This November 20–23, Senior Associates John Ritter and Julie Ryan joined over 9,000 educators at the Music City Center for the Annual Conference for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in Nashville, TN. Hundreds of sessions for professional development and inspiration were on offer. Participants were invited to meet some of their favorite NAEYC authors as well as explore the importance of yoga in early childhood education while attending sessions at the Expo in the new Learning Bytes Theater. Everyone was invited to the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum for an evening of live music, dancing, good food, and music history.
Keynote Speaker Dr. Gail C. Christopher, President and Founder of the Ntianu Center for Healing and Nature, is an award-winning social change agent. Gail, who recently-retired as Senior Advisor and Vice President at the W.K Kellogg Foundation, gave a dynamic address on how change begins with individuals and extends to community, organizations, and systems. On their website, NAEYC says,
Following this year's Opening Keynote Presentation, attendees left inspired, motivated, and ready to address their responsibilities to promote equity and diversity in early childhood education.
One great feature of the event was a panel discussion in which attending professionals shared their experiences of studying, working, and volunteering abroad. Topics focused on adjusting to different cultures, learning different languages, and finding international opportunities. Julie said,
We were proud to say that Search Associates was recommended as a great organization to help educators explore the possibilities offered by international schools. As a result, we've met many interested and highly-qualified attendees.
On the conference’s last day, NAEYC’s Director of Policy and Professional Advancement Lauren Hogan gave updates on Early Childhood Education policy and prepared attendees for the census and upcoming elections. NAEYC's Senior Director of Publishing and Professional Learning Susan Friedman led a panel discussion on the partnership between public school leaders and early childhood educators. Everyone then gathered one final time in the grand ballroom for the closing celebration.
John and Julie were delighted to meet many potential candidates and some who shared enthusiastic stories of using Search Associates and teaching at international schools. It was inspiring to be at this conference of over 9,000 committed early childhood educators.