Metro United Way’s Excellence Academy early learning program is invested in training high-quality teachers to teach our future leaders. This past summer, 36 of our Excellence Academy early learning teachers and staff had an opportunity to attend two learning tours: The Boulder Journey School Reggio Conference in Boulder, Colorado and the Nature Explore Leadership Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Boulder Journey School is a national Reggio conference that took a deeper dive into the philosophy of the Reggio Emilia Approach and its long-term effects on the teacher, children and community. The Excellence Academy teachers were able to see Reggio in practice in a population outside of their own.
“We have greatness that is just ready to blossom,” proudly said Valerie, a teacher at Keystone Learning Academy, after being inspired by attending the Boulder Journey School. “It came to me after the conference that I have been acting like a referee and was not being engaged. I want to focus on what the child is learning versus what I want them to learn,” she said.
Nature Explore is a national leadership conference that brought early childhood experts and professionals together to teach them about the best practices around building a natural playground, providing a deeper understanding of why nature is important to the long-term learning and development of children both cognitively and socially.
The inspiration continued among another one of our Excellence Academy early learning teachers, Te’ra, while participating in a hiking activity at the Nature Explore Leadership Conference. “The experience recharged me in a way to come back and give the children that positive experience in nature because they need that in early childhood development. Teaching is my passion and we have to learn from children and children have to learn from other teachers and me.”
Ensuring that young children have both involved and intentional teachers is one of the most critical elements to achieving kindergarten readiness. These conferences provided our teachers opportunities to connect and enhance their teaching skills in ways that will help kids shine in our Excellence Academy early learning centers!