2017 Western Nebraska Early Childhood Conference

“Early Childhood Inclusion” is the theme of the 2017 Western Nebraska Early Childhood Conference, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 7, in Scottsbluff.

Keynote speakers will in the morning and afternoon sessions will focus on including young children with disabilities, as well as opportunities, initiatives and resources available to professionals who work with young children in Nebraska.

The conference is intended for child-care providers, teachers, and educators from child-care homes, child-care centers, preschools, and Head Start. It will take place from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Western Nebraska Community College Harms Advanced Technology Center in Scottsbluff.

The conference site is a change from previous years, when it was held in Gering.

Preregistration is required; no registrations will be accepted after Sept. 29. On-line registration and an informational brochure are available on the Scotts Bluff County Extension web site at http://scottsbluff-morrill.unl.edu. (On-line registrants still need to mail payment.)

Attendees will earn contact hours to help meet licensing requirements. For more information or to receive a registration brochure, contact University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 632-1230.

The morning keynote address presented by UNL’s Johanna Taylor will focus on the current research and state of inclusive practices in the field of early childhood, including a history of and current research supporting inclusion for young children with disabilities.

She will cover the law, organizations and policy statements that define and impact the quality of inclusive settings. Her talk is titled “Embedding Interventions for Children with Challenging Behaviors in Inclusive Early Childhood Environments.”

Taylor will define the use of evidence-based practice to embed instruction for children with challenging behaviors, including a decision-making process to identify goals, strategies and activities.

An assistant professor of practice in UNL’s Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, Taylor has worked for the past two decades with providers and caregivers in home settings, public and private schools, and community settings for children, adolescents, and adults with autism and development disorders.

 In the afternoon keynote, Andrea Nelson will speak on “The view of Nebraska Early Childhood from the Land of ‘Pause’.” She will discuss the many opportunities and initiatives afforded to early childhood educators and the bright future of early childhood in the State of Nebraska.

Nelson will invite attendees to reflect on their participation in current and future programs while developing goals for their own professional development.

Nelson has a broad perspective of early childhood education from her years of experience in both Nebraska and Kansas. Born in Nebraska but raised in Kansas, she earned a master’s degree from Kansas University in early childhood special education. After teaching in Kansas, she married and moved to Sidney, Neb., where she worked in early childhood, including a stint for ESU 13 as an early child special educator in the Panhandle.

Two years ago, her family returned to Kansas to help with the family ranch. She returned to the field of early childhood special education as both an itinerant and classroom teacher for inclusive settings.

The early childhood conference will offer a number of concurrent sessions. Topics and presenters include:

  • 10 Best Tips to Facilitate Wholesome Eating Behavior: Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator Marcia Bauer.
  • Can You Hear Me Now? Sarah Ochoa, Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska, will discuss the role of strong communication in developing positive relationships with parents and families.
  • Educating Exceptional and Gifted Children: Patsy Yager, WNCC Early Childhood Education.
  • How to Integrate Sensory Activities within the Classroom: Angel Flohrs, Sidney Public Schools Special Education.
  • Identifying the Warning Signs of Early Developmental Delays: Ashley Meyer, Educational Service Unit 13.
  • Impact of Trauma on Early Childhood: Katherine Carrizales, Educational Service Unit 13.
  • Incorporating Sign Language for Children throughout Your Day: Sara Peterson and Heather Esterdahl, Educational Service Unit 13.
  • Introduction to Autism and Strategies for Early childcare Settings: Johanna Taylor, UNL
  • Step Up to Quality Orientation: Cindy Molina, Step Up to Quality Coach (history of program, program goals).
  • Teaching Children with Autism Social-Communication Skills within Play Activities: Johanna Taylor, UNL.
  • What Do I Do When … A Guide to Accessing Nebraska’s Special Educational Services Birth to Age 5: Becky Jo Wylie, director, Twin Cities Early Childhood Center, and Betsy Skelcher, assistant Director of Student Services, Scottsbluff Public Schools.
  • What is the TEACH Early Childhood Nebraska Scholarship Program and Can I Qualify? Julie Warford, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood NEBRASKA Scholarship Counselor.

In addition to Saturday’s conference, training will be provided Friday, Oct. 6, on Early Learning Guidelines. Two ELG classes are being offered at Western Nebraska Community College Harms Advanced Technology Center: Approaches to Learning, presented by Cindy Molina, and Language and Literacy, presented by Sarah Ochoa. Sessions run from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Registration is limited on-line at http://scottsbluff-morrill.unl.edu.

Also on Friday, two other classes are being offered at the Harms Center from 1-5 p.m. They are Safe with You, presented by Brittain Trave, and CPR and First Aid, presented by Bruce Meier.

Conference sponsors are Nebraska Extension, Western Nebraska Community College Early Childhood, Scottsbluff Public Schools, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska, ESU 13 Head Start, Panhandle Early Learning Connection Partnership, Panhandle Family Daycare, and Twin Cities Early Childhood Center.