Thursday, December 5, 2019

8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center
One Partnership Circle, Abingdon, VA 24210

Please join us as we welcome hundreds of early childhood professionals from across Southwest Virginia at the 2019 Tender Loving Caregivers conference. We will spend the day focusing on early learning techniques and best practices for becoming a trauma-informed early childhood classroom, sharing our passion for early childhood development, and hearing from experts working in the early childhood field. We will also hear insights about overcoming trauma, and the lasting impact one positive relationship can make on the children’s lives that are in your care, from keynote speaker and YouTube star, Derek Clark, also known as the “Rapping Dad.”

What is the Tender Loving Caregivers Conference?

United Way of Southwest Virginia hosts the Tender Loving Caregivers Conference to provide a day celebrating the great work of early childhood professionals in Southwest Virginia. We want every attendee to leave with information and best practices that will either add to their teachers’ tool-kits, or help them become the best version of themselves for the students that are in their care.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Derek Clark
Derek ClarkKeynote Speaker

Derek Clark’s life is one of resilience and redemption. As a child, he suffered unthinkable child abuse, abandonment, and emotional distress before being turned over to the psychiatric hospital at age five. His 13 years in the San Francisco Bay area foster care system reflected an early life of humiliation, aggression, emotional distress, overwhelming anxiety and being wrongfully labeled. Eventually, with the help of foster parents, mentors, and a fantastic social worker, he defied the artificial limitations imposed upon him.

Derek is an inspiring motivational speaker/trainer. Derek’s true-life trials and personal triumphs have imbued organizations worldwide with his message of resilience, hope, unwavering perseverance, and redemption. He recently received the International Foster Care Award through SOS Children’s Villages, located in 134 countries, dedicated to helping and protecting children. Recently, Derek has become a viral video sensation for his “Rapping Dad” videos which have had over 250 million social media views.

ITINERARY 

8:00-8:45 Registration 

8:45 – 9:00 Opening Remarks 

9:00 – 10:00 Keynote: Derek Clark

10:00-10:15 BREAK

10:15-11:15 Morning Workshops Session 1

11:15-11:30 BREAK

11:30-12:30 Morning Workshops Session 2

12:30-1:30 LUNCH

1:30-2:30 Afternoon Workshops Session 1

2:30-2:45 BREAK

2:45-3:45 Afternoon Workshops Session 2

3:45-4:00 CLOSING in Grand Hall

WORKSHOPS

MORNING WORKSHOP SESSION 1

Doodle your way to a stress-free day! – Carolyn Koesters
Expressing your self is creative self-care! Calm your brain, improve your mood, and let loose with just a few strokes of your pen. Making repetitive lines and circles is a soothing, relaxing, and simple technique to not only teach fine motor skills to those young ones in your care, but it has brain-boosting impact! Researchers believe that doodling gives a break to parts of the brain, making it possible to absorb and retain more information overall. You do not even need any artistic talent or ideas… come doodle with me and unwind your mind!

The Art of Acceptance – Megan Hamilton 

We live in a world where many things are out of our control. There are conditions in our jobs and personal lives that can challenge our ability to accept not only certain situations, students, co-workers, but even ourselves at times. The action of acceptance can make or break a team, or a relationship. How do we really learn to accept life as it comes in order to really collaborate, create, and thrive in our jobs and personal lives? Participants will learn the “Yes and…” mentality, to build upon life circumstances. This will help curb resistance that prevents deeper connections from happening with others.

Exploring Art Techniques & Materials for All Ages – Steven Cregger

Join Art teacher Steven Cregger for a fun-filled hour of CREATIVITY! In this hands-on, messy, and fun session participants will explore a variety of kid- (and adult-) friendly art processes that can be used in a million different ways. This session has a focus on exploring different materials, art mediums, and art techniques that can be used with children of any age. The activities we will explore may also prove to be very fun for those who are just big kids at heart!

Yoga for Every Body – Robyn Raines

In yoga, we believe in the need to give to yourself in order to then be able to give to others. The word “yoga” means “to unite”… specifically movements of the body with the breath. This union brings more flexibility and balance with the benefits of taking a deep breath. The awareness of our breathing in yoga naturally calms and soothes our bodies helping us to recharge in order to keep going. Bring comfortable clothes that you can move in; mats and additional props will be provided. This class will be appropriate for all levels… beginners to regular yogis.

Childhood Trauma and The Power of Creating an Authentic Connection – Derek Clark

Derek captures the heart of the audience on an emotional level, where transformation really happens. Learn to commit and build upon your strengths when encouraging children to have hope. Derek talks about how to overcome negative thinking towards a specific child and why that child needs you to believe in them. He shares his experience as a youth in foster care and the impact of feeling deeply listened to, while knowing the people rallying around him were committed to protecting his wellness, dignity, integrity, and spirit.

Classroom Environments: The Third Teacher – Amy Bowie
Learn how to set up and maintain a classroom environment that provides the child and teacher with a safe, warm, and inviting learning environment where both child and teacher can feel nurtured and supported. This kind of classroom enables the teacher to be at ease and brings a sense of calm, all while making it possible to facilitate the learning of the child by meeting the child where they are, without expectation. This approach also relies heavily on observation and documentation of the child and how the space is used as a key component to furthering the ongoing education of the child.

MORNING WORKSHOP SESSION 2

Let’s Give Time Out a Time Out: Strategies for Gentle Discipline & Classroom Management –  Cassandra Caffee Morelock

Young children need to learn how to get along in the classroom, and yet at the same time, it is not developmentally appropriate to make threats or offer bribes to control their behavior. In this workshop, attendees will learn practical strategies to help manage behavior without the use of a punishment/reward system. The result will be a calmer, kinder, more grace-filled learning community for both the children and their loving caregivers.

Winter Paint Party – Lori Rouse & Amesha Whitt

Creativity is essential to self-care. You don’t have to be “good” at art to reap the benefits of letting your creative juices flow. Join the William King Museum of Art’s education staff for a relaxing painting activity. Participants will be guided step by step through the process of creating their own winter holiday image on canvas, which they can give as a gift or use as holiday decorations in their home or office. All materials are provided and no previous art experience is necessary. 

Joyful Yoga and Magical Mindfulness – Leslie Eslinger

Teaching yoga and mindfulness is as easy as breathing in and breathing out. With fun music, simple yoga poses, and easy breathing activities, you’ll have all you need to share these powerful tools with young children while you reap the benefits yourself! You’ll leave with a “box” of happiness that promises to calm, soothe, and bring joy to all who play along!

The Heart Wants What It Wants – Dr. Sherry Barnard

Neither Selena Gomez nor Emily Dickinson could have said it better, “The heart wants what it wants, or else it doesn’t care.”  Sound like anyone you know? Emotions travel faster than thought, and usually are our first line of defense when encountering a problem, even when we know it’s not the most effective. Although conflict is a natural part of life, conflict resolution strategies are not as readily available in our social toolbox. How do you handle conflict in the early childhood classroom? Join us for strategies that foster social-emotional learning and guide children toward resolving conflicts on their own. 

When Caring Hurts – Mark Larsen

Working with those who have been exposed to violence and trauma can impact the way we think, feel, and (re)act, yet there is little information about how to soften the effects of this impact. This session will introduce participants to the similarities and differences between burnout, compassion fatigue, secondary and vicarious trauma and will offer information about how to identify these in themselves and others. Participants will learn about successful self-care strategies to prevent and manage effects.

Becoming a Trauma-Informed Early Childhood Professional: Practices & Strategies – Dr. Kimberly Austin

In their daily work, Early Childhood Educators will most likely encounter children and families that have experienced various forms of trauma. Research demonstrates the impact of trauma on a child’s ability to learn, to create healthy attachments, to form supportive relationships, and to follow classroom expectations. Because of the proven results, early childhood classrooms need to be safe, trauma-sensitive spaces for both children and families. This workshop will present the impact of trauma on young children and their families and will provide practices and strategies necessary to best serve this critical population.

AFTERNOON WORKSHOP SESSION 1

Doodle your way to a stress-free day! – Carolyn Koesters

The Art of Acceptance – Megan Hamilton 

Exploring Art Techniques & Materials for All Ages – Steven Cregger

Yoga for Every Body – Robyn Raines

Childhood Trauma and The Power of Creating an Authentic Connection – Derek Clark

Classroom Environments: The Third Teacher – Amy Bowie

AFTERNOON WORKSHOP SESSION 2

Let’s Give Time Out a Time Out: Strategies for Gentle Discipline & Classroom Management  – Cassandra Caffee Morelock

Winter Paint Party – Lori Rouse & Amesha Whitt 

Joyful Yoga and Magical Mindfulness – Leslie Eslinger

The Heart Wants What It Wants – Dr. Sherry Barnard

When Caring Hurts – Mark Larsen

The Secret “Skill” for Kindergarten Readiness: Preparing Infants and Toddlers For Kindergarten – Lisa Green

Some of the children entering Kindergarten have little knowledge of how to self regulate. How are our infants and toddlers missing these valuable and necessary skills? Please join us in the discussion as we learn possible causes for their lack of attention and impulsive behavior in the classroom. Learn research-based strategies on how we can help our children before they enter Kindergarten.  

WORKSHOP PRESENTERS

Amesha Whitt

Growing up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia and later moving to the Tri-Cities area, Amesha calls Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee home. She has been with the William King Museum of Art since April of 2016. She began as their Van Gogh Outreach Instructor before taking on the role of Education Assistant. Teaching art to students, especially young children, is a job she enjoys and values very much. In addition to art, Amesha loves literature, yoga, traveling, and animals, especially her cats.

Amy Bowie

Amy Bowie has owned and operated Miss Amy’s LLC for 27 years, in Abingdon, VA. She has taught all age levels from infants through school-age. Before operating her own center, she worked in both Head Start and a private faith-based center, as well as a licensed childcare facility. She attended an international Study Tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy in 2013. Amy lives in Abingdon, VA with her husband of 39 years, her elderly mother, and two dogs, Willie and Buster. She has two grown children and four grandchildren, who are the loves of her life. Amy has also served as an elder in the Presbyterian church for more than 20 years.

Carolyn Koesters

While Carolyn Koesters usually teaches workshops on the benefits of personal writing, she has recently added doodling and visual journaling to her creative toolbox for self-expression, mindfulness, and focus. Carolyn is a Childhood Success Coordinator in the Childhood Success Department of United Way of Southwest Virginia, working with participating Virginia Quality childcare providers and is a certified Infant and Pre-K CLASS observer. She enjoys helping agencies and community leaders collaborate on improving conditions for families and their young children birth to five, to better prepare them for Kindergarten. She and her husband Nick moved from Cleveland, Ohio, and reside in Abingdon with their daughter, Calliope.

Cassandra Caffee Morelock

Cassandra Caffee Morelock serves United Way of Southwest Virginia as a Childhood Success Coordinator. She offers technical assistance and support to participating Virginia Quality childcare providers and is a certified Infant, Toddler, and Pre-K CLASS observer. She previously spent seven years working as an early childhood educator after earning her Master’s degree in Education from Johnson University. Cassandra lives in Northeast Tennessee with her husband and their lovable pets. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and attending local events.

Derek Clark

Derek Clark’s life is one of resilience and redemption. As a child, he suffered unthinkable child abuse, abandonment, and emotional distress before being turned over to the psychiatric hospital at age five. His 13 years in the San Francisco Bay area foster care system reflected an early life of humiliation, aggression, emotional distress, overwhelming anxiety and being wrongfully labeled. Eventually, with the help of foster parents, mentors, and a fantastic social worker, he defied the artificial limitations imposed upon him. 

Derek is an inspiring motivational speaker/trainer. Derek’s true-life trials and personal triumphs have imbued organizations worldwide with his message of resilience, hope, unwavering perseverance, and redemption. He recently received the International Foster Care Award through SOS Children’s Villages, located in 134 countries, dedicated to helping and protecting children. Recently, Derek has become a viral video sensation for his “Rapping Dad” videos which have had over 250 million social media views.

Dr. Kimberly Austin

Kimberly Austin is a professor of early childhood education at Southwest Virginia Community College. She holds a Bachelors’ degree from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and a State of Virginia Teaching License. She obtained a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from East Tennessee State University and is currently a doctoral candidate at ETSU. Her research involves early language and literacy among rural populations. Additionally, she provides consulting and professional development for Early Childhood Programs nationwide. Kimberly resides in Marion, Virginia with her husband and their four children.

Dr. Sherry Barnard

Sherry Barnard has been a teacher for 20 years. Her experience includes special education, elementary education, Title I teacher, and Reading Specialist. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Social Science and her Master’s degree in Reading, both from Radford University. With a desire to improve teacher professional development, she earned her Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Adult and Postsecondary Education from Capella University. Since then, Sherry has been doing consultant work on her own, became a Curriculum Specialist and Technical Assistant for Virginia Quality, a Professional Development Specialist with the Council for Professional Development Recognition, a CLASS Reliable Observer, and a part-time Childhood Success Coordinator for United Way. Her favorite hobby is making memories with her two children and her husband.

Leslie Silk Eslinger, M.Ed.

Leslie Silk Eslinger, M.Ed. is the Director of Education and Development for Becker’s School Supplies.  Leslie has been involved in early childhood education for over 30 years as a teacher, mentor, trainer, and administrator. In the last 20 years, Leslie has developed and presented Professional Development workshops at local, regional, and national conferences. She finds joy and calm in practicing yoga and mindfulness, and has recently become passionate about bringing these practices into the classroom. She has trained with Bari Koral, a well-known children’s yoga and mindfulness educator, and worked closely with Bari to develop a series of yoga and mindfulness materials.

Lisa Green

Lisa joined the United Way of Southwest Virginia team in April 2017 as an Infant & Toddler Specialist. She brings over 20 years of early childcare experience, six years experience as a deaf interpreter with Washington County Schools, VA, and ten years experience as program director and lead teacher for a local childcare center. While there, she was a lead teacher to a classroom of ten preschoolers while mentoring college students from various career paths. Lisa earned her Master of Arts in Education from Emory & Henry College in 2012 and continues to be a lifelong learner. She is looking forward to sharing her enthusiasm and love of teaching with others with the emphasis being on research-based best practices of infant and toddler care. 

Lori Rouse Mann

Lori studied Fine Art at Radford University. Before joining the William King Museum of Art education staff as an assistant in 2013, she held many clerical jobs and worked as an assistant activities director in an assisted living facility. She is a mother of two and currently resides in Chilhowie, VA.

Mark Larsen

Mark is a Licensed Professional Counselor with experience as a community organizer focused on utilizing evidence-based, person-centered, and trauma-informed practices to promote health, wellness, and self-sufficiency. Mark joins us after most recently working at Marion Correctional Treatment Center as a Psychology Associate II, serving on one of the psychiatric inpatient acute treatment teams working with seriously mentally ill incarcerated individuals. Prior to his work with the Virginia Department of Corrections, Mark served in the role of Director of Adult Behavioral Health Services for Mount Rogers Community Services Board for three years, overseeing multiple programs and services within five counties. He coordinated Trauma-Informed Care training for all staff within the agency, as well as organizing a TIC Train the Trainer to ensure that multiple staff was able to train all existing and new employees in TIC practices. He coordinated the Alternative Transportation pilot within the region, which reduces the re-traumatization of individuals needing involuntary psychiatric hospitalization through more trauma-informed transport. He was successful in securing a grant from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to open the first Crisis Intervention Team Assessment Center in the far southwest region.

Megan Hamilton

Megan Hamilton is currently serving as a Youth Success Coordinator with United Way of Southwest Virginia to assist bridging the gap between employers/work force and the youth of our region. As an adjunct professor at Emory & Henry College, she teaches in the freshman Transitions course to help students gain the soft skills necessary for not only college, but future careers through the topic of the mind, body, spirit connection. This topic is inspired by her expertise as a certified yoga and meditation instructor currently teaching at Whitetop Yoga in Abingdon, Virginia. Additionally, Megan founded and created Barter Theatre’s award-winning Project REAL. Using theater skills, Project REAL collaborates with local schools, non-profits, government services, and lock-down facilities to teach both academic and social skills through the lens of human experience. The success of Project REAL led Megan to create a graduate program in Applied Theatre Pedagogy at ETSU. She became the Director of Education at Barter Theatre in 2016 where she supervised all of the theatre’s educational programming.

Robyn Raines

Robyn became the owner of Whitetop Yoga in 2017–believing both in the practice and community it creates. First introduced to yoga seventeen years ago, she has used her practice to work toward better life balance and is amazed by its ability to create space and time. A southwest Virginia native, Robyn moved back to the region a decade ago journeying through a non-linear career thriving on problem-solving and new experiences. Currently, she is the Director of Childhood and Youth Success at United Way of Southwest Virginia. Robyn is passionately committed to seeing southwest Virginia succeed and overcome the challenges facing the region. She believes in working collectively to find solutions and instilling hope and resilience in the children and youth of our communities. As the owner of Whitetop Yoga, she is excited to support gratitude, mindfulness, and intention with the local community and visitors to the region.

Steven Cregger

Steven Cregger is an elementary art teacher at High Point Elementary School in Washington County, Virginia where he teaches Pre-K- 5th grades. He also teaches gifted education classes in Appalachian Studies, Art History, Oceans & Habitats, Conversational Spanish, and Animation. In 2018, Steven taught Summer Scholars 2D & 3D Art at Emory & Henry College. He graduated from Virginia Intermont College in 2007 with a B.A. in Art Education & Graphic Design. Steven won Teacher of the Year at HPES in 2010 and was the recipient of the McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence: Elementary Level winner 2014. He is an active member of the StateLine Wind Symphony, playing Euphonium and is the Artistic Coordinator for the John S. Battle Marching Band.

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