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Keynote Speakers:

Click on the tabs below for details on the 2018 keynote speakers.

Though the theme of our conference is Teaching Kindergarten, this talk will focus on what we can learn from our kindergartners -- particularly those who make the most trouble at school -- about what it means to be human in our classrooms, and beyond them. We will explore the critical role that young children play in social movement and social change, and the need for us as educators to cultivate, celebrate, and insist on their imagination and creativity as antidotes to the many constraints that limit justice.

Carla Shalaby is a researcher of teaching and teacher education at the University of Michigan and the author of Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School. Her professional and personal commitment is to education as the practice of freedom, and her research centers on cultivating and documenting daily classroom work that protects the dignity of every child and honors young people’s rights to expression, to self-determination, and to full human being

As participants sing and dance together they will be reminded of the powerful impact that these experiences can have on children. In this unique and engaging session, teachers will be introduced to traditional North & Latin American, African, Asian and European dances, songs, and singing games. Learn how dancing and singing significantly strengthen children’s memory, as well as their listening, spatial, sequencing and social skills. Teachers will also learn how these experiences can be powerful assessment tools and offer a fresh perspective on children's growth and development. Teachers will leave the workshop ready to introduce these same music and dance experiences into their classrooms.

Betsy Blachly is the music specialist for the Bank Street School for Children and Family Center. She was a founding member of the first Family Camp at Pinewoods Camp in 1976 where she learned traditional singing games and dances. Blachly has a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College and a Masters Degree in Music Therapy from New York University.

Susan Harris has been teaching music and movement with young children in New York City for forty years. She is the Lower School music teacher at the Manhattan Country School in New York City. Harris holds a Bachelors Degree in Music from Manhattan School of Music, a Masters Degree in Education from Bank Street, and has additional training in Dalcroze Eurythmics.

Henry Chapin is a music teacher, fiddler and musician at the Bank Street School for Children and a teaching artist with the New York City Public Schools. As a free lance artist, he calls Family Dances. Chapin has a Bachelors Degree in music composition and theory from Columbia University, and a Masters Degree in Arts Administration from Teachers College.

What’s a kindergarten education for? Keynote speaker Patsy Cooper argues that a fundamental achievement of the kindergarten year is complex confidence – confidence in oneself as a capable and curious learner, as a self-respecting partner in love and friendship, and as a responsible member of the community. The kindergarten teacher plays an obviously critical role in this achievement, but never more so than when events outside the classroom door threaten to disrupt the child’s burgeoning identity. Drawing on many years of classroom and field experience, Cooper weaves developmental and curricular theory with John Dewey’s vision of schools as diversified, democratic places to offer a view of teaching kindergarten that children perceive as interesting, affirming, and just, as it schools them for the years ahead.

Patsy Cooper is an associate professor and co-director of early childhood education at Queens College, CUNY. She is a former kindergarten teacher and school director.

Meeting the needs of today’s five year olds
Are we meeting the needs of 5 year olds in today’s climate? This keynote will look back at past practices, as well as, begin to access todays’ practices in Kindergarten. It will also examine the characteristics of 5 year olds and how we can develop exciting and challenging programs that will meet their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical needs.

Ursula Davis is a highly recognized early childhood educational specialist providing consultant services to schools and childcare facilities throughout the country. Her expertise is that of a practitioner developed through her many years in the classroom as a teacher throughout the early childhood grades in both rural and urban settings. Davis' outstanding classroom skills led her to broader challenges as an administrator and as Deputy Director of the Commission on Early Childhood and Childcare programs in New York City.

Over her career, Davis has written extensively for professional magazines and has appeared as an expert guest on television and radio discussing early childhood issues. She is also the author of Blocks: The Cornerstone of an Early-Childhood Curriculum (Childcraft Education Corp, 1997).