Maryland State Childcare Association

C.A.M.P. (Children Are My Passion)

Conference by the Sea

Clarion Resort and Hotel, Ocean City, MD

May 3 – 6, 2018

Conference Summary

C.A.M.P. (Children Are My Passion) MSCCA’s Conference by the Sea (CBTS) 2018 is the Maryland child care and early learning industry’s forum to collaborate and share best practices. Registrants are eligible to earn two (2) Professional Activity Units and can attend classes offering up to 17 hours of MSDE-approved training. With over 600 attendees expected from across Maryland, CBTS is the must attend event for the early childhood community.

The 2018 conference offers three days of presentations by industry experts, opportunities to interact with vendors in the exhibit area, networking with peers, professional development, two receptions, “C.A.M.P.” theme fun and more. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

MSCCA Conference by the Sea 2018 is sold out! Registration/waitlist are closed.

In addition, we are addressing the waitlist and contacting individuals based on limited space available.  MSCCA registration support will connect with waitlist individuals.

If you would like to exhibit at Conference by the Sea 2018, contact Barry Benesch (PH: 443-878-3988, Email:

Saturday Conference by the Sea Schedule

Saturday, May 5, 2018

7:30 – 8:00am Opening and Welcome, MSCCA: C.A.M.P (Children Are My Passion)
Presenters: MSCCA Board of Directors (non-credit component of the Professional Activity Unit)

8:00 – 9:00am  Plenary and Keynote Session, Movin and Groovin: Interactive Literacy with Eric Litwin, # 1 New York Times best-selling author of the original four Pete the Cat books, The Nuts and Groovy Joe (1.0 Curriculum)

Get ready to sing, dance, laugh and fall in love with early literacy. Eric’s dynamic performances are fully interactive. He sings, plays the guitar and brings books to life. Eric will share his NYT Best-Selling Pete the Cat books as well as The Nuts and Groovy Joe. It is big, musical, literary FUN! Eric shows how simple techniques such as music, movement, call and response, and repetition help children learn to read. With his guitar and dynamic singing voice, Eric will have everyone singing, dancing and grooving.

9:30am -11:00am SESSION 1 (Select + for Class Descriptions)


Sensory Processing and the Balance System. Presenter: Crystal Ey, LiteBrite LLC (1.5 Child Development)

Is it behavior or is it sensory? Join us as we take a deeper dive into how sensory processing and the vestibular system are connected. Learn how this fascinating body system that controls functions such as balance and movement is connected to sensory stimulation. Engage in sensory activities that both promote and stabilize this important body system in all ages from infant to school age.


Harnessing the Power of Nature Play. Presenter: Lavonne Taylor, Owner/Director, Forest Hill Nature Preschool. (1.5 Curriculum)

The value of natural materials in both classroom and outdoor exploration is demonstrated by the way these materials can inspire play. Children are drawn to nature as a focal point for observation, exploration and investigation. These are the building blocks of scientific thinking for children as young as toddlers, and these same principles guide the development of scientific thinking in Healthy Beginnings.


Songs in the Key of C: Creativity, Curriculum and Community Values. Presenter: Vincent Nunes. (1.5 Curriculum)

This presentation pairs interactive music with age-appropriate activities and fundamental movement skills to enhance curriculum content, encourage creative thinking and introduce shared community values. The songs are original, engaging and fun, but they are also purposeful, allowing young learners to see the connection between music, movement and curriculum content. Among the many topics to be presented are use of the senses (“Eyes, Ears…”), color options (“Colors of the World”, “Rainbow”), formation of working/playing units for a single purpose (“Fire Station”), sharing the environment (“River Keep Rollin”), counting and numerical values (“My Grandma”, “One Number Higher”), reducing waste and recycling (“Uncle Jonathan”), and alphabetical sequencing (“Jamaican ABCs”). Movements and simplified ASL-based signs accompany every song, along with active discussion of curriculum content.


The Truth About Consequences. Presenter: Mandy Lloyd, Certified Instructor, Conscious Discipline. (1.5 Child Development)

Mistakes are an opportunity to teach! Learn the difference between punishment and consequences, and how to effectively use consequences in your classroom. The Truth About Consequences Handout


A Model for Ethical Leadership. Presenter: S. Colby Peters, PhD, LCSW, CEO, Human Systems. (1.5 Professionalism)

Leaders make change – how do you ensure that you are leading and making changes in an ethical way that maximizes positive outcomes for both your organization and your students? What is the difference between leadership and management, and when do you use each? Participants learn about the new Human Systems leadership approach, the first scientifically validated leadership and organizational development model designed for use in human service organizations. Participants will also explore practical applications of the model, including creating their own personal definition of leadership.

11:15am - 12:45pm SESSION 2 (Select + for Class Descriptions)


Stupendous Science for Preschoolers. Randi Albertson, Owner, Innovations in Education, LLC. (1.5 Curriculum)

As one of the seven domains of learning, science and inquiry can be seen in children’s everyday activities. This hands-on session introduces participants to the Maryland State Curriculum’s objectives for young children in this domain. Capitalize on childrens’ natural curiosity to bring science learning into your program. Learn strategies for incorporating science and inquiry throughout your day.


Universal Design for Learning for Infants and Toddlers. Stephanie Cooper and Sara Bosley, Abilities Network. (1.5 Special Needs)

Many of our infants and toddlers come into our classrooms with varying needs and developmental levels. We know that it is very typical to have young children who are the same age with varying skill levels. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) theory supports providers in creating fully inclusive classrooms that support all children. In this course you will learn all about UDL and the practical strategies used to support your environment, activities, and engagement with our littlest learners.


Classroom Management and Transitions. Eric Litwin, # 1 New York Times best-selling author of the original four Pete the Cat books, The Nuts and Groovy Joe (1.5 Child Development)

Eric began using interactive literacy and music as a classroom teacher. Very quickly he discovered that they were powerful and effective in day-to-day classroom management. In this practical and inspiring session, teachers learn how interactive music and stories can help facilitate smooth transitions, create community, increase student engagement, reinforce educational objectives, teach rules, provide structure, set a positive tone and channel energy into learning.


Don’t Call Me Kid: Understanding a Multigenerational Workforce. Lacey Tsonis, Assistant Deputy Director, Resource and Referral Services, Maryland Family Network. (1.5 Community)

Are Millennials really entitled? Why do Baby Boomers love committees? Come explore what influenced each generation during their critical years and how this shaped the characteristics we see today in general and in the workplace. Explore the communication and professional development preferences of each generation and develop a plan of action for how to use this information to have more meaningful and productive relationships with everyone you work with, regardless of age!


The 4 R’s: Refreshing, Reclaiming & Recharging the Role of The Center Owner-Director. Dr. Gerri-Lynn Ballard and Deborah Williams, Focus on Learning. (1.5 Professionalism)

This session will address important issues facing the Owners and Directors from the Maryland Child Care community. We continue to face new challenges related to the climate of the early childhood education field as well as specific challenges here in Maryland. Early childhood leaders are expected to maintain the current trends and best practices to ensure the highest quality programs are offered to children and families. This session is designed to provide useful tools and information within the scope of early childhood education and professional development. In addition, it enhances understanding, offers ideas, and enables ECE leaders to improve and power their programs. The session’s goal is to create opportunities for participants to elevate their roles and voices.

2:00pm - 3:30pm SESSION 3 (Select + for Class Descriptions)


Promoting Resilience in Young Children. Nicole Pierre, LiteBrite LLC. (1.5 Child Development)

How can you help children bounce back? Participate in this interactive session to understand how you can help children develop resilience in the face of life’s challenges. Learn the primary characteristics of resilience and the changes to your environment, routines and curriculum that can help you make a true impact on the future of young children.


Tinkering with STEM. Sheila George, LiteBrite LLC. (1.5 Curriculum)

Let’s get tinkering! Participants will have the opportunity to learn about activities and strategies that support children’s exploration of STEM experiences, props and materials. Participants explore how making and tinkering extend the understanding of STEM concepts and practices. The session will identify specific strategies that attendees can begin using in their classrooms.


Cultural Competency: What Does It Really Mean. Darlene Schmidt, Mary Beth Johnson, Sharon Vance, Maryland EXCELS. (1.5 Professionalism)

This workshop will explore the many facets of developing and promoting a culturally competent environment for children, families, and staff including administrative practices, curriculum, and family engagement. Participants will also learn how they can earn the Cultural Competency endorsement to add to their Maryland EXCELS rating.  Cultural Competency Handout


Communicating with Co-workers: Stop Gossiping and Start Finding Solutions. Mandy Lloyd, Certified Instructor, Conscious Discipline. (1.5 Professionalism)

Learn how to cultivate a caring community among your staff and avoid the pitfalls of gossip. Children learn how to build strong, positive relationships with others by observing the adult relationships around them. It is essential for adults who work with children to model positive problem solving skills. Participants will learn specific strategies for managing their emotions and communicating assertively with co-workers. Communicating with Co Workers Handout


Quality Staff Starts with You: A Supervisor’s Role in Engaging and Managing Staff at All Levels. Lacey Tsonis, Assistant Deputy Director, Resource and Referral Services, Maryland Family Network (MFN). (1.5 Professionalism)

Great supervisors know they are responsible for the quality of the staff that they hire and continue to employ. Once staff has been hired, however, a supervisor’s job hasn’t ended as you must now mentor/coach, encourage, train, and engage each staff member. Explore strategies to engage all staff members, encourage them to reach their fullest potential, correct poor habits and, ultimately, coach staff members to become their best selves.

3:45pm - 5:15pm SESSION 4 (Select + for Class Descriptions)


Circle Time: You Can Make It Developmentally Appropriate. Jill Lyons and Inette Hunter. (1.5 Curriculum)

Are you tired of the same boring circle time routines, calendar, weather, etc? In this interactive session, you will walk away with three concrete success strategies to ensure your circle time is more than just a routine experience, becoming an engaging learning opportunity! You’ll learn how to support all domains while involving children in a way that promotes their individual developmental needs.


Quality Questions that Support Meaningful Responses. Sheila George, LiteBrite LLC. (1.5 Curriculum)

Can purposeful questioning strengthen problem solving? Participants will learn about developmentally appropriate strategies that promote and support open-ended questions, multi-word responses, and problem-solving skills. They will have an opportunity to practice using the strategies and to plan ways to include the strategies in their daily classroom routines.


Storytelling – Little Red Riding Hood Greets the Big Bad Wolf: Engage Children with Interactive Storytelling. Donna J. Satterlee, EdD, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland Eastern Shore. (1.5 Curriculum)

Little Red Riding Hood meets the Big Bad Wolf while learning about the use of dramatization to bring a story to life, using minimally costumed characters. Explore some ways to create costumes from easily accessible materials. Learn some theatrical skills in storytelling and blocking the set as well as teachable skills for presentations. Developmentally appropriate skills for preschoolers through 12 year old children will be assessed.


Highly Sensitive People in the Workplace. S. Colby Peters, PhD, LCSW, CEO, Human Systems. (1.5 Professionalism)

Are you extremely sensitive, emotionally and physically? Do you know or work with someone who is? Participants in this session will learn about sensory processing sensitivity, or individuals who are Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs), how they might be able to identify it in themselves or in others, and the potential effects of adverse work events on HSPs. Participants will also learn what individuals who are highly sensitive can contribute to the workplace, and how to best support HSPs in educational environments.


Multiple Disciplinary Skills and Collaboration on Behalf of Children. Lacey Tsonis, Assistant Deputy Director, Resource and Referral Services, Maryland Family Network. (1.5 Community)

Collaboration skills are an important part of your professional development journey. Understanding how to ensure these partnerships go well is important, but so is understanding what strategies are needed when it’s not going well. Come build strong collaboration skills, understand how this fits into your professional development plan. Walk away ready to build lasting partnerships with others committed to improving the quality of care for all children.

Sunday Conference by the Sea Schedule

Sunday, May 6, 2018

8:00am – 8:30am MSCCA – Membership Advocacy and Your Voice. Presenters: Alexander & Cleaver and MSCCA Public Policy and Legislative Task Force Committee. (non-credit; part of Professional Activity Unit conference protocol) Hear about the 2018 legislative session and meet our Government Affairs legal team/Lobbyists.

8:30am – 9:30am Plenary Session, Are Maryland’s Children Ready for Kindergarten? (1.0 Professionalism) Special Guest Speaker Steven Hicks, new Assistant State Superintendent of Early Childhood Development for Maryland State Department of Education Readiness report from new state Superintendent, Steven Hicks. Readiness Matters 2018 KRA 2017-18 Technical Report

9:45am – 11:30am Closing Keynote, Self-Regulation: Moving from Chaos to Calm. Keynote Speaker Vicky Hepler, Master Instructor, Conscious Discipline.  (1.75 Child Development) Many children come into your classroom, school or center from an environment of trauma, lack of resources or chaos. Learn how to move from chaos to calm by using research-based strategies that help children learn self-regulation.  Self-Regulation: Moving From Chaos to Calm Handout 11:15am – 12:00pm Resources and Enriching Activities and Field Trip Ideas Workshop. (non-credit / informational) Visit our “CAMP” showcase of field trip ideas and extra-curricular, enrichment opportunities for your program.

Keynote Speakers

Vicki Hepler

Keynote Speaker

For over 35 years, Vicky has been an early childhood educator teaching Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade and self-contained Special Needs for children with Autism. This, along with her position as a resource teacher for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida enables her to understand what educators deal with day in and day out. Her classroom is a nationwide model for Conscious Discipline implementation and has been featured in professional development videos.

Eric Litwin

Keynote Speaker

Eric is a song singing, guitar strumming, # 1 New York Times Best Selling author who brings early literacy and music together. He is the original author of the Pete the Cat series as well as the author of The Nuts and Groovy Joe. Eric’s books have sold over 10 million copies, been translated into 15 languages, and won 19 literacy awards including a Theodor Geisel Seuss Honor Award.

Vincent Nunes

Keynote Speaker

Vincent Nunes’ award-winning, curriculum-based music for children is original and interactive. It has received numerous national awards (Parents’ Choice Award, NAPPA, Children’s Music Web Award, Parent’s Guide to Children’s Media Award, and Family Choice Award). He has presented keynotes and workshops at teacher conferences from Massachusetts to California, and from Texas to Michigan, including the annual conference for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, for more than 30 years as an early childhood music specialist. Holding a BA and a JD, this presenter has many decades of experience as both a musician and as an early childhood educator. In his presentations he emphasizes age-appropriate, fundamental movement skills and simplified ASL-based signs.

John K. Thomas

Keynote Speaker

Kelvin has worked with school-age children in the Childcare Industry for over 22 years. He has served as Director of Well Why Not Me for 17 years and has been the Owner for 12 years. Kelvin is considered the world’s leading Youth Engineer, which means he helps teens, young adults and those who work with children to maximize their potential to the world.  Kelvin has also been a Baltimore County fire fighter for over 12 years with advance rescue training in confined space, trench rescues and building collapses.

Conference by the Sea Speakers

Randi Albertsen

Owner, Innovations in Education, LLC

Randi has a B.S degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Loyola College in Maryland. She has worked in early childhood settings for over 25 years. Randi’s experience includes school age care group leader, childcare center senior staff, family childcare provider, and public school Kindergarten and third grade teacher. For the past 16 years, she has been a licensed trainer in Maryland. Randi Albertsen owns Innovations in Education, LLC. Her company provides training and consulting services to the early childhood community. She is also a curriculum developer and serves as a coach and mentor to providers and program administrators. As an adjunct faculty member of Howard Community College, Randi helps to prepare future teachers for success in the early childhood field.

Erika Anderson

Educational Trainer, LiteBrite LLC

Erika Anderson holds a Bachelors degree in Early Childhood, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and an Administrative I certificate. In the past 21 years in education, she has worked as a kindergarten and second grade teacher, Teacher Mentor, Instructional Facilitator and a Portfolio Coach for Johns Hopkins University. In addition, Erika is a Certified Pre-K CLASS observer. Erika recently began working as an MSDE certified trainer, providing professional development experiences that ultimately support the growth and development of our youngest learners.

Gerri-Lynn Ballard, PhD

Owner/Director, Focus on Children Development Institute

Dr. Gerri-Lynn Ballard has more than 30 years of experience in the field of early care, early childhood, and youth development programs. She started with military child care and continued with public broadcasting, working in children education television programs.  In 1998, Dr. Ballard founded the non-profit organization FOCUS ON CHILDREN, Inc. Her organization provides approved training to early childhood educators and professionals in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. in a wide range of training topics to include the Core of Knowledge, Pre-Service and CDA courses, and Train-the-Trainer. In addition to training, Dr. Ballard serves as a CDA Program Development Specialist, and sits on the MSDE/OCC Training Review Board. This past year she was recognized by Governor Hogan for commitment and contributions to Maryland State Department of Education/Division of Early Childhood Development and to the child care community.

Yvonne Bell

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Yvonne earned the degrees of M.Ed in Elementary Education and M.Ed in Special Education. She has worked in the early childhood and education fields for over 25 years.  During that time, Yvonne has held numerous positions including licensed child care provider, special ed. teacher, principal, trainer, and Head Start Regional Services Manager/Disabilities Coordinator. She is a passionate Early Childhood and Special Education advocate.

Angeline Bishop-Oshoko

Branch Chief, Office of Child Care – Credentialing Branch

Angeline Bishop-Oshoko is currently Branch Chief, Office of Child Care – Credentialing Branch. Ms. Bishop-Oshoko was previously the Operations chief. Prior to MSDE, she was the Family and Partnership Manager at the Howard County Head Start Program. She managed the TANF program at the Duchess County DSS for over 10 years.

Sara Bosley

Program Manager, Abilities Network

Sara develops and maintains training for early childhood educators based on state regulations and standards.  She also provides child-specific consultation services in early care and education programs at the request of the early care and education director and with the consent of the child’s parents.  Sara obtained her Master of Education from the Pennsylvania State University.

Stephanie Cooper

Inclusion Specialist, Abilities Network

Stephanie provides early childhood mental health consultation to teachers of children from birth to five.  She also provides training and technical assistance to address curriculum and social-emotional development in early childhood educational settings. In addition, Stephanie is a trainer for Project ACT’s training Academy, helping to education child care providers throughout Maryland.

Crystal Ey

President and Educational Director, LiteBrite LLC

LiteBrite LLC is an MSDE-approved training and consulting company. At the cornerstone of Crystal’s passion for providing the highest quality professional development is her dedication to children and families. LiteBrite LLC supports our early care community of providers and teachers in all 23 counties and Baltimore City. Crystal is proud to have partnered LiteBrite LLC with Johns Hopkins Center for Technology in Education to support the roll out of the Early Learning Assessment in Maryland. A graduate of Salisbury State University with a degree in Elementary Education, Crystal’s career spans over 23 years as a Harford County public school teacher, homecare provider, owner/operator of The Learning Express early learning program, MSDE Accreditation Validator and certified CLASS observer.

Jennifer Fernandez

Early Learning Project Manager and Trainer, Kiddie Academy

Jennifer works closely with the corporate team at Kiddie Academy to update various operations and educational manuals.  She contribute to newsletters and other communications regarding child development, maintains relationships with educational program vendors, coordinates all training sessions among franchisees and academy directors, as well as helping to ensure ongoing curriculum support and service to franchisees and the academy. Jennifer received an undergraduate degree from Towson University and a Master’s Degree from Capella University.

Sheila George

Educational Trainer, LiteBrite, LLC

Sheila graduated from Millersville University with a degree in Education. She has worked as a School-Age teacher and director, homecare provider, preschool teacher, preschool director, Child Development Specialist, Harford County public school teacher, Teacher Mentor, and an adult educator. Sheila also works with Robert-Leslie Publishing as an Implementation Trainer for the InvestiGator Club Curriculum and is a Certified Pre-K CLASS observer. Sheila continues to attend professional development classes and to pursue her education with graduate classes. She has enjoyed working with children and students of all ages in a variety of educational settings for over 20 years. Sheila’s work as an MSDE certified trainer allows her to share her passion for education with individuals dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children.

Sandra Graham

Director of Training, Kiddie Academy

Sandra joined the Kiddie Academy Education Department in May 2017.  She brings more than 25 years of experience in teaching, directing, and training in the field of early childhood education.  Sandra holds a degree in Speech Language Pathology with a minor in Education. As Director of Training, she organizes the franchisee and director training programs, delivers training in person and via webinar, and develops new training modules for the Kiddie Academy System.

Steven Hicks

Assistant State Superintendent, Division of Early Childhood Development, MSDE

Steven Hicks serves as Assistant State Superintendent for the Division of Early Childhood Development at the Maryland State Department of Education. Immediately prior to his appointment, he was Executive Director of the non-profit Ready at Five in Maryland. Previous to working in Maryland, he served as Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education. There, he focused on advancing the national early learning agenda through helping to develop and oversee the Early Learning Challenge and Preschool Development Grants programs, as well as integrating early education throughout policies, initiatives, and legislation, including in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Steven first came to the Department as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow, following 20 years as a preschool, kindergarten and early elementary school teacher. During his career, he served as Prekindergarten Director for the California Reading and Literature Project in Los Angeles and in the workgroup that created Los Angeles Universal Preschool. Seeing a need to increase access to high-quality preschool in South Los Angeles, he founded a Reggio Emilia-inspired early learning center at his school. He also taught courses on family engagement as an adjunct professor at California State University Los Angeles.

A frequent speaker across the country and internationally, he has contributed to numerous publications, including a national preschool curriculum and an on-line mentor program. Steven is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Childhood and holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Primary Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.

Inette Hunter

Preschool Program Specialist, Montgomery County Childcare Resource and Referral Center (MCCRRC)

Although Inette recently joined MCCRRC, she has been involved in the childcare industry since 1999.  Prior to her current position, Inette was a Quality Assessment Specialist for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  In that position she created and maintained systems and processes to monitor the reliability of the accreditation assessment process.  She has been a presenter at national industry conferences as well as regional workshops and training sessions.

Mary Beth Johnson

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Mary Beth holds a BS Degree in Elementary Education/Early Childhood and has been in the Early Care and Education profession since 1987.  She began her career in Pennsylvania as a Pre-K Teacher at a center in her hometown and eventually became the Director of Education at the center.  After moving to Maryland, she was employed at the Council for Professional Recognition (CDA Program) in Washington, DC, as an Early Childhood Specialist/Trainer, where she remained for the next 17 years. Currently, Mary Beth is the Quality Assurance Specialist with Maryland EXCELS in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties on the Eastern Shore.

Mandy Lloyd

Certified Instructor, Conscious Discipline

Mandy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from Virginia Tech. She has been a Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor since 2007. Mandy helped to implement the Conscious Discipline® program in all of the classrooms with children ages three months to five years and created a positive school climate where collaboration and problem-solving were valued among the staff and families.

Jill Lyons

Infant Toddler and Inclusion Program Specialist, Montgomery County Childcare Resource and Referral Center (MCCRRC)

In her role with MCCRRC, Jill responds to child care provider requests for individual technical assistance related to business development program improvements, and professional development.  She also provides technical assistance aligned with Maryland EXCELS in the form of case management, site visits, phone calls, emails, and one-on-one meetings and group sessions. Jill also develops training modules for MSDE approval and delivers training to child care providers.

Janice A. Nieliwocki

Child Care Specialist, Ronald V. McGuckin & Associates

Janice is a cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton where she obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services.  Janice’s entire professional life has been focused in the field of education. Her career took a slightly different path when she joined Ronald V. McGuckin and Associates in January 2005. Bringing her practical classroom experience to the field of child care law, Janice now lectures nationally on various child care issues, including employment law, human resources, school readiness, and other theoretical and legal aspects surrounding early childhood education.  Janice is a contributing writer for The Child Care Professional Experience, a quarterly online journal for child care providers. She regularly assists clients with regulatory compliance including the writing of Plans of Correction when agencies are at risk for license revocation.  Janice received recognition from Pennsylvania Pathways and was awarded the status of Special Discipline Trainer (SDI-3243000).

Jennifer Nizer, M.Ed.

Immediate Past President, Maryland State Child Care Association

Jenn has spent the better part of two decades being an advocate for child care programs, teachers, children and families.  She has her Master’s in Education.  Jenn is also the Regional Director at Creative World Schools Franchising Company, Inc.

Colby Peters

CEO, Human Systems

Colby has over 10 years of social work and human services experience in operations, development, technology and design, program development, and, most recently, organizational assessment using advanced research and analytic techniques with both quantitative and qualitative data. In addition, she has experience in policy research, development, and analysis, including research and analysis of Maryland’s disability policies for Heather Mizeur’s gubernatorial campaign in 2014. She has presented her work at multiple conferences and classes and has shared her talents with many nonprofits in both professional and volunteer capacities, including the University of Maryland, Seeds 4 Success and Eastport Girls Club, the Y of Central Maryland, the Light House Shelter in Annapolis, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

Nicole Pierre

Educational Trainer for LiteBrite, LLC

Nicole graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Communications. She worked in the marketing field for several years before deciding to open her own family child care business. She returned to college to pursue her degree in Early Childhood Education and expanded her work in the field of family child care by obtained accreditation by the National Associations for Family Child Care (NAFCC). After her career as a family childcare provider, Nicole has worked serving the childcare community assisting providers in providing quality child care from starting their business to achieving accreditation. She worked in the capacity of technical assistance specialist, training support, and training coordinator for the Maryland Child Care Resource Network for over 8 years and now works as an independent and contract trainer across the state of Maryland. In addition, she enjoys being an NAFCC observer and observer trainer supporting the field of family child care. She continues to attend professional development workshops and develop training to meet the needs of the child care community in Maryland and at various conferences and events. She focuses on supporting diversity and inclusion, developmentally appropriate practice and professionalism in early childhood education. She has a passion for helping educators continually provide quality care and believes high quality personal development is the foundation of a well-rounded early educator.

Claudia Remington

Executive Director of the Maryland State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (SCCAN)

SCCAN advises Maryland’s Governor and Legislature on systems’ improvements to prevent, detect, prosecute and treat child abuse and neglect. Ms. Remington provides consensus-building leadership, research, writing, and organizational support to SCCAN. She facilitates the collaborative work of 23 Council Members representing diverse perspectives, sectors, disciplines and communities. Under her leadership, the Council adopted a public health approach to preventing child maltreatment (CM) before it occurs. Together with other Council leaders, Ms. Remington participated in the CDC sponsored PREVENT CM Institute; helped establish Maryland’s Partnership to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse-Enough Abuse Campaign; established SCCAN’s “Prevention Learning to Action Network” raising awareness and commitment to promoting safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children; leads Maryland’s CDC sponsored Essentials for Childhood Initiative work to prevent CM and other ACEs in Maryland; and advocated for passage of the “Maryland Home Visiting Accountability Act” and Maryland’s Alternative Response legislation. Prior to becoming E.D., Ms. Remington was a practicing attorney at the law firm of Conroy, Ballman & Dameron, and chaired SCCAN, having advocated on behalf of abused and neglected children within child welfare, juvenile justice, school, medical, mental health and court systems.

Darlene Schmidt

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Darlene holds a BA in Elementary Education and an AA in Early Childhood Education.  She taught Kindergarten and Head Start for over 30 years in Garrett Co.  Darlene is currently retired from teaching and working for Maryland EXCELS as a Quality Assurance Specialist for Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties.  She lives on a 231 acre farm in Accident with her husband, John.  They have two daughters and three grandchildren.  Darlene spends most of her free time with her grandchildren.  She is also a 4-H leader.

Donna Satterlee, EdD

Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Donna works full time at the University teaching courses in Human Ecology and Child Development.  She has 20 years of experience as an early childhood development specialist focusing on experiential learning. Her research using the natural environment as a platform for learning to learn has led to several articles for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, coauthored by Grace Cormons. Donna is currently the president of the Eastern Shore Chapter of the Maryland Association for the Education of Young Children, hoping to advance the professionalism of early childhood education.

Angela “Angie” Sparks

Inclusion Specialist, Abilities Network

In her position with Abilities Network, Angie observes children in childcare settings and provides feedback regarding the child’s strengths as well as recommendations for improvement in home and school environments.

Lavonne Taylor

Owner and Director, Forest Hill Nature Preschool

Lavonne has been an early childhood educator for more than 20 years and worked in the public school system and the Archdiocese of Baltimore before opening her own center in 2013. She current serves as the President of the Harford County Director’s Association, as an elected Member-at-Large on the Maryland State Child Care Association Board, and is a member of the Advisory Board for Abilities Network. Lavonne is dedicated to maintaining play in early childhood programs and is passionate about environmental education and nature play opportunities for children.

Lacey Tsonis

Assistant Deputy Director Resource and Referral Services, Maryland Family Network

Lacey has worked with children and families for over 15 years, primarily in non-profit settings. For the last decade, she has worked with the Maryland Child Care Resource Network, first as the Professional Development Coordinator at the Howard County Child Care Resource Center and now as the Assistant Deputy Director at Maryland Family Network. Her work continues to focus on improving the quality and accessibility of affordable child care for families in Maryland. She is an adjunct instructor at Howard Community College and state approved trainer for child care providers. Lacey received her bachelor’s degree from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania in Child and Family Studies and is currently pursuing a Masters in Education from Loyola University Maryland.

Sharon Vance

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Sharon holds a BS in Early Childhood Education and, after a tour as a kindergarten teacher in the late 80’s, she moved to the world of afterschool care where she worked for the next 25 years.  Sharon is currently the Maryland EXCELS Quality Assurance Specialist for Carroll and Howard counties and the President of the Maryland AfterSchool Association.  She lives in Westminster with her husband and dogs and if you can’t find her here at the conference, she’s probably on the beach.