Start Early. Start well.

November 29, 2016

Nurturing Young Children as Active Thinkers Will Be Focus of Professional Development Institute

Omaha, Neb. – More than 200 teachers, community-based early childhood educators, and others who serve young children in the metro area will participate in the first institute of the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan “Professional Development for All” 2016-2017 series December 1-2 in Omaha. 

The event, entitled “Engaging and Nurturing Young Children as Active Thinkers,” runs from 5:45 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday and again from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, both at the DC Centre, 11830 Stonegate Drive. Participants will examine what research has demonstrated about how young children actively engage in their own learning and the strategies that adults can use to extend their learning and thinking.

Developed by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska and funded by the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties, the free professional development series is designed to introduce leading-edge research and innovative practices to those who work with young children and families, and give early childhood professionals the chance to come together and learn from each other. Now in its second year, the series drew nearly 1,000 participants in 2015-2016.

“Children’s learning experiences during the years from birth through Grade 3 shape who they become as adult thinkers, problem-solvers, and lifelong learners. Yet young children are often not recognized as the powerful thinkers they already are and are capable of becoming,” said Chris Maxwell, director of program development at the Buffett Institute. 

Featured speakers at the institute include Jerlean E. Daniel, an early childhood education consultant who is former executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); and Portia Kennel, a senior advisor to the Buffett Early Childhood Fund who previously served as senior vice president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund and as executive director of the Educare Learning Network. 

Other speakers include Michelle L. Rupiper, associate professor and assistant department chair for Child, Youth & Family Studies (CYAF) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Bonnie Reyes, PreK – Grade 3 alignment coach lead, and Stephanie B. Reid, PreK – Grade 3 alignment coach, both with St. Paul (MN) Public Schools.

Additional 2016-2017 “Professional Development for All” institutes are planned for January 19 and 21, and March 2 and 4. Dates for the fourth institute in the series will be announced in the coming weeks.