Start Early. Start well.

February 29, 2016

Cultural Awareness Will Be Focus of Professional Development Institute

Omaha, Neb.  Key research and strategies for responding to children’s cultural and linguistic backgrounds in order to maximize their learning will be the focus of the second institute of the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan “Professional Development for All” series for 2015-16.

 More than 200 teachers, caregivers and other early childhood professionals in the metro area are expected for Wednesday’s institute, entitled “Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness for Whole Child Development and Learning.” The event runs from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Salvation Army Kroc Center Omaha, 2825 Y Street.

 Developed by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska and funded by the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties, the professional development series is designed to introduce leading-edge research and innovative practices to those who work with young children and families.

 “The PD for All series offers an important collaborative opportunity for early childhood professionals to come together across school districts and agencies to learn with and from each other,” said Chris Maxwell, director of program development at the Buffett Institute. “Thinking about how we can be more inclusive in our work with children of diverse cultures is critically important for all of us.”

 Featured speakers at the event include Dr. Tonia Durden, an assistant professor and early childhood extension specialist within the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Nicky Clark and Beth Sechrest with Heartland Family Service in Omaha; Melissa Wolken, dual-language coordinator at Gomez Heritage Elementary, Omaha Public Schools; Janette Merkel, preschool  – third grade program specialist at the Buffett Institute; and Dr. Jane Fleming, co-founder and director of KIDS LIKE US, a Chicago nonprofit organization.

About the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan

The Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan provides a blueprint for a comprehensive approach to serving vulnerable young children, birth through Grade 3, in the 11 school districts of Douglas and Sarpy Counties. The goal is to reduce or eliminate learning and achievement gaps in the Omaha area.

The Superintendents’ Plan was mandated by the Nebraska Legislature, funded through the Learning Community, developed by the superintendents and district representatives in conjunction with the Buffett Institute, and endorsed unanimously by the 11 superintendents of the Learning Community. The Buffett Institute continues to provide leadership for the implementation of the plan.