Omaha, Neb. — Nearly 250 teachers, caregivers and other early childhood professionals representing 75 Omaha area organizations and school districts will participate in the first professional development institute offered as part of the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan. Two one-day events, entitled “What Matters Most for Young Children, Families, and Communities,” will be held May 14 and May 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Scott Conference Center on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The institute will introduce leading-edge research and innovative practices to those who work with young children and families. It marks the first in a series of events that will be offered to all early childhood professionals in Douglas and Sarpy Counties as part of the Superintendents’ Plan. 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 will promote collaboration among school districts, child care providers, and community-based organizations.
Featured speakers at the inaugural institute include Dr. Samuel J. Meisels, founding executive director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute; Dr. Aisha Ray, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Erikson Institute; Dr. Sharon Ritchie, director of FirstSchool at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Dr. Iheoma Iruka, director of research and evaluation at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute.
Organizers originally planned to offer one daylong inaugural session for 120 participants. When all slots were filled a week after registration opened, a second session was added to meet the demand.
“The enthusiasm that early childhood professionals have shown for the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan and its professional learning opportunities is truly exciting,” said Christine Maxwell, director of program development at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute. “We’ve been inspired by their vision and their eagerness to work together to serve young children and their families.”
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. This includes young children growing up in poverty or experiencing other conditions of high stress and familial challenge, and those identified with or at risk for developmental delays. 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 of Douglas and Sarpy Counties, developed by the superintendents and district representatives in conjunction with the Buffett Early Childhood 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.