Conference Summary

In It to Win It with MSCCA’s Conference by the Sea (CBTS) 2019, 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 18.5 hours of MSDE-approved training. With over 750 attendees expected from across Maryland, CBTS is the must attend event for the early childhood community.

The 2019 conference, which is being held at the Clarion Resort, 10100 Coastal Highway in Ocean City, Maryland, offers four days of presentations by industry experts, opportunities to interact with vendors in the exhibit area, networking with peers, professional development, two receptions, the “Winning” theme fun and more. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Conference registration includes all conference sessions, hosted receptions and meals noted in the agenda. There are three payment method options when you check out – Credit Card, Check and MSDE Training Voucher.

Onsite conference check-in opens Thursday afternoon, May 2, at 2:30 pm. Attendees arriving on Thursday have the option to participate in a session being held from 4:30-6:00 pm as well as the Early‐Bird Kickoff session from 7:00 pm–8:30 pm, both for credit options.

MSCCA Members receive a 25% discount on the conference registration fee. Click here to learn more and apply for membership.


Attendees are encouraged to register for the conference online*

*All attendees who register online will be entered into a raffle. Two lucky entrants will be selected to win a FREE 3-night stay (maximum value of $375.00 per winner) at the Clarion Resort or Marigot Beach Suites.

There are three registration Payment Methods: Credit Card, Check and MSDE Training Voucher.

Registration Fees

SAVE MONEY on your Conference by the Sea 2019 Registration fee. Renew or sign up for 2019 membership TODAY! (Membership Options: Individual, Center, Business, School Age)

Registration Type Fee
Member: Individual $345
Member: Group (Must have 5 or more attendees from the same MSCCA Member Center) $299
Non-Member $445
Exhibitor $350
Exhibitor Business Member* $315

An $85.00 late fee will be added to the registration cost for all attendees who register after Tuesday, April 2nd.

Exhibit booth space costs will increase to $400 for exhibitors and $360 for exhibitor business members after Tuesday, April 2nd.

*MSCCA Business Members receive a 10% discount on their Exhibitor registration fee. Click here to learn more and apply for business membership.

You will receive a confirmation email after registering. If you do not receive this email, either your email address was entered incorrectly or your registration was not processed. If you have any questions about your registration or the conference, please email

Registration Fees

SAVE MONEY on your Conference by the Sea 2019 Registration fee. Renew or sign up for 2019 membership TODAY! (Membership Options: Individual, Center, Business, School Age)

Registration Type Fee
Member: Individual $345
Member: Group (Must have 5 or more attendees from the same MSCCA Member Center) $299
Non-Member $445
Exhibitor $350
Exhibitor Business Member* $315

An $85.00 late fee will be added to the registration cost for all attendees who register after Tuesday, April 2nd.

Exhibit booth space costs will increase to $400 for exhibitors and $360 for exhibitor business members after Tuesday, April 2nd.

*MSCCA Business Members receive a 10% discount on their Exhibitor registration fee. Click here to learn more and apply for business membership.

You will receive a confirmation email after registering. If you do not receive this email, either your email address was entered incorrectly or your registration was not processed. If you have any questions about your registration or the conference, please email

MSDE Training Voucher: If you are selecting the MSDE Training Voucher as your payment method, please note that per MSDE rules, a voucher will ONLY be awarded for the full amount of the approved conference or pre-service training as long as the request does not exceed $400.00. If you are not a MSCCA member, the easiest solution is to sign up for MSCCA membership TODAY.

In addition to training and other discounts, MSCCA Membership includes professional advocacy and grant opportunities that are only available to members.

There are two membership options:

  • Individual Members save $100 ($345 vs. $445) on their registration cost for CBTS 2019 in addition to getting a 10% discount for Maryland EXCELS published programs at any level. NOTE:  Individual Membership is not available to individuals employed in the child care industry, only parents and other interested persons.
  • Center Membership covers all staff working in the program and conveys a Professional Activity Unit for all staff, no matter the Center’s size. If five (5) or more Program staff members register to attend CBTS 2019, each member of the team qualifies for the Group rate of only $299.

After you complete your membership application and submit payment, email a copy of your membership confirmation to with a request to modify your registration type to MSCCA Member: Individual (a $100 savings) or Member: Group (a $146 savings) as appropriate.

If a provider/registrant does not have enough funds to cover the full amount or if the request exceeds $400, a voucher will not be approved. However, there is the option to pay for the registration fee out-of-pocket and submit an application for training reimbursement upon successful completion.  As long as funds are still available, the remaining balance will be reimbursed.

You need to submit your training voucher APPLICATION (not to exceed $400.00) to MSDE (not MSCCA) no later than March 1, 2019. You do NOT need a voucher to register.  However, to complete your registration, the approved Training Voucher must be mailed (address: MSCCA Conference by the Sea 2019, 1783 Forest Drive, #314, Annapolis, MD 21401) or emailed to with the registrant’s signature (in blue) and date. Your voucher must be received by MSCCA no later than Monday, April 1. Training Vouchers will NOT be accepted as payment onsite.

The name listed on the MSDE/OCC Training Voucher and the online registration name must be identical. You can submit a request for reimbursement up to $400 after the conference (up to 180 days) with proof of completion of training and payment. The Program may assume the payment obligation for MSCCA registration fees should the Voucher request for payment be denied by MSDE/OCC or the individual attending will need to provide another form of payment. You will be notified that your registration is approved when the voucher payment is received.

Code of Conduct: In an effort to maintain a professional training environment, all registrants are required to read the Conference Criteria and Code of Conduct prior to attending this year’s MSDE/OCC Approved Conference by the Sea training event.

Exhibitors:  Partners and businesses that serve the early childhood education industry are invited to sponsor a table in the exhibit area and network with attendees during meals and receptions.  Event exhibitors and sponsors will receive prominent mention in the conference program, signage at the event, and will be introduced at the membership with a pre-function announcement. If you’re not able to join us onsite, please consider your support as a sponsor!

Facilitators:  MSCCA will email you by March 29, 2019 to confirm your request.  If selected, your facilitator information will be attached.  Please contact Marcia Tivoli with questions at  For additional information, contact Christina Peusch at or call 410-820-9196.

Hotel Reservations

A block of rooms has been set aside for MSCCA Conference by the Sea 2019 attendees at the Clarion Resort located at 10100 Coastal Highway in Ocean City, Maryland 21842. To make reservations, call 800-638-2100 between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm ET. BE SURE to ask for the Maryland State Child Care Association Conference rate. Book your hotel room early before the room block is filled.

You can also book your accommodations online at either the Clarion Resort or the Marigot Beach Suites.

A deposit equal to one night’s room and tax is required at the time of booking. The deposit is refundable if notice is given at least seventy-two (72) hours prior to arrival and a cancellation number is obtained. Reservations cannot be shortened within seventy-two (72) hours of scheduled arrival. There will be no refunds for early check-out. Anyone checking out prior to their scheduled departure date will be responsible for their full scheduled stay.

Room Rates*

Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel
$125 for a Standard room with two queen beds and a sofa bed (sleeps 5)
$145 for a Studio King with king bed and sofa bed (sleeps 3)

Marigot Beach Suites (the Ocean Front condos will be in high demand, so make your reservation early):
$160 for 1-bedroom with a king bed and a sofa bed (sleeps 3)
$240 for 2-bedroom with a king bed, two double beds and a sofa bed (sleeps 7)
$285 for 3-bedroom with two king beds, two double beds and sofa bed (sleeps 9)

The Marigot Beach Suites are located just steps away from the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel. A two night minimum stay is required for 1 and 2 bedroom suites. A three night minimum stay is required for the 3 bedroom suites. Rates listed are per night. An additional 10.5% tax will be applied to the bill. The hotel reservation cut-off date is Tuesday, April 2, 2019.*

* Please note: Once the room block is filled or the hotel reservation cut-off date has passed, rooms will be reserved on a space-available basis. Reservations can be cancelled any time up to 72 hours in advance and your deposit will be refunded.

Clarion Restaurants and Nightlife

The Clarion Resort offers several restaurants and nightlife options for attendees. For those of you arriving prior to Friday night’s MSCCA Opening Reception with Exhibitors at 5:15 pm, the hotel offers a $6.99 lunch special on Thursday and 20% Early-Bird Special for dinner on Thursday and Friday.

Friday Discount Lunch Tickets: CBTS 2019 attendees can also purchase a $10 discount meal ticket for the Friday, May 3rd, Italian Buffet Lunch, which opens at noon in the Horizons Oceanfront Restaurant. Tickets can be purchased at the Clarion’s front desk from Wednesday, May 1, at 4:00 pm until 10:00 am on Friday, May 3, 2019. The regular buffet price is $12 based on available seating.

Conference by the Sea Schedule

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Please Note: Conference by the Sea 2019 session details are preliminary pending MSDE approval and unforeseen changes.

4:30 pm – 6:00 pm, Session 1 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

Thu1 Active Games for Active Children, Gerard Bolden, School Age (1.5 Curriculum)

Session Description: Every program year is an opportunity to experience something new and exciting every day. Learn new techniques to support children’s social emotional learning through cooperative active games. You will learn some of the fundamentals of managing both age-specific and mixed age groups including encouraging fair play, building gross motor skills, setting clear expectations and modeling good sportsmanship.

At the end of the session the participants will have learned
• New active games to share with their team members to assist with their professional development.
• How to communicate successfully to children the goals and purpose behind each game.
• How to manage age-specific and mixed age groups.

Thu2 How to Communicate with Challenging Children, Lauren Spigelmyer (1.5 Special Needs)

Session Description: This workshop will provide parents and caregivers with communication techniques that build respect and rapport, strengthen positive relationships, foster problem solving, and teach children to take control of their actions.

These strategies will give participants tools for preventing and addressing challenging behaviors through dignifying and respectful communication. Attendees will leave the workshop with a mnemonic to help them remember the strategies as well as a card ring resource that directly connects the strategies to their specific needs.

This workshop is largely interactive as participants will be working in pairs, small groups, and large groups to brainstorm ways to incorporate the strategies into their daily practices.

After completion of this workshop, participants will be able to
• Identify the seven highly effective communication strategies otherwise known as the mnemonic SCHWINF.
• Define areas of need and problem solve for solutions to meet those needs.
• Exemplify ways to apply the SCHWINF strategies to their teaching practices.
• Develop a card ring of personalized strategies to be used as a reference tool.

Thu3 Lessening the Impact of Incarceration on Children, Marisel Torres-Crespo (1.5 Community)

Session Description: This course will share, in an interactive manner, the journey of a 15-year, all-volunteer nonprofit that is dedicated to assisting children who have an incarcerated family member. It will include discussion on what can be done to assist the children and their caregivers, as well as their parents who are in jail or have recently been released.

There will be sharing of national and statewide statistics to demonstrate the topic’s importance, as well as a review of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and its possible impact on children.

We will then share the journey of our nonprofit and offer strategies and resources that we are currently using and have found to be successful. There will be time for participants to create a plan on how they will use this information when they return home. There will also be time for them to review children’s books and resources on this topic, talk with one another about them, and share their own experiences.
We are going to share how to create meaningful collaboration with the community like the one we have with the Mental Health Association of Frederick Maryland.

• An in-depth understanding of the issues affecting children when a family member is incarcerated.
• Knowledge of resources and books available to assist the family.
• A plan for implementing strategies in their own work site to help children and families.

Thu4 The Value of Positive Guidance…Using Maryland EXCELS Standards to Support Best Practices, Mary Beth Johnson and Thea Quible, MSDE (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: Through the development of policies that support positive guidance in early childhood, participants will gain a greater understanding of the components of positive guidance and strategies for implementation.

Thu5 Utilizing Play to Guide Children’s Learning, Sheila George and Nicole Pierre (1.5 Curriculum)

Session Description: In this interactive session, participants will increase the power of play in their program through intentional planning and building on children’s interests. Increasing research has supported the idea that play has the key ingredients needed to create successful learning experiences for all children. This session will explore hands on the benefits of play and how to support effective play in your program while supporting educational goals.

Thu6 Child Care Business Practices, Owners and Directors, Janice Nieliwocki (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: Personnel is the area where administrators often have the most difficulty finding information and answers. Changing laws have only further complicated this matter. Research shows that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of lawsuits filed by employees against employers in the last several decades. Many of these lawsuits could have been avoided if administrators had the necessary human resource knowledge and had legally correct policies and procedures in place. This workshop will look at a variety of personnel policies and procedures, discuss new legislation and help administrators make sound decisions and write policies that are legally correct and reflect current law.

All employers, whether they operate a small child care center or are part of a child care conglomerate, face the risk of being involved in an employee lawsuit. Employee/Employer lawsuits cost the employer a great deal of time and money, but many of these legal actions could be avoided.
Participants will be provided with an UPDATED sample table of contents which outlines important personnel policies particular to the needs of child care agencies. We will discuss the topic, why the particular policy is important to the agency, and the legally correct language related to each policy.

Child Care Business Practices/Personnel Policies: This workshop will begin with a discussion of the importance of personnel policies, the purpose they serve, and the physical logistics of a good Personnel Policy Manual. Topics to be discussed will include at-will employment, discrimination and the protected classes, the hiring process, exempt vs. non-exempt employees and the Fair Labor Standards Act. If time allows, we will discuss policies related to evaluating your employees and the legal implications of an “inaccurate” appraisal.

Current law and “real life” situations will be discussed in session. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and bring forth concerns related to their policies and procedures throughout the workshops.

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, Session 2

Thu7 Early‐Bird Kickoff Session, “No Small Matter” Film and Discussion (1.5 Community)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Please Note: Conference by the Sea 2019 session details are preliminary pending MSDE approval and unforeseen changes

10:00 am – 12:00 pm, Session 1 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

F1 Personnel Policies, Owners and Directors, Janice Nieliwocki (2.0 Professionalism)

Session Description: We will discuss the termination process and policies that will assist you in defending unemployment claims against your agency. We will look at recent updates in the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave, and policies that adequately address the updates. This workshop will conclude with recent trends in policies, such as social networking policies, cell phones and the legal concerns related to each.

Current law and “real life” situations will be discussed in the session. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and bring forth concerns related to their policies and procedures throughout the workshops.

F2 Understanding and Empathy – How to Create Meaningful Relationships with Children, Sandy Graham and Sharon Pindell (2.0 Child Development)

Session Description: This training is appropriate for all levels as it addresses the need for Early Childhood educators to gain a better understanding of the need for empathy and understanding in the classroom.  Educators will be given opportunities to understand what empathy and understanding truly means and how similar, yet different these approaches can be.  This training will provide educators with the tools to understand the “need” behind the behavior as well as the empathetic approach when redirecting that behavior.  During this training, educators will participate in role playing scenarios.  They will also be given opportunities to apply their own experiences as it pertains to empathy and understanding.  The training will also give insight and strategies on how to role model understanding and empathy in any environment, at any stage of development.


  • To become more empathetic and understanding of children’s needs and behaviors.
  • To create and role model an understanding and empathetic environment within the classroom.
  • To be able to look at students as “people” and understand their needs and emotions.
  • To build positive relationships with children and families


F3 Joy in the Classroom, Laura Foster (2.0 Professionalism)

Session Description: Teachers should reflect positive, responsible, sensitive, and respectful attitudes in working with all children. During this interactive training, participants will describe the dispositions of joyful teachers, summarize the role of joy in Dr. Montessori’s educational philosophy, create a “toolbox” of joyful activities for the classroom, and actively practice and cultivate reflections for joy.


  • Participants will describe the dispositions of joyful teachers.
  • Participants will summarize the role of joy in Dr. Montessori’s educational philosophy.
  • Participants will create a “toolbox” of joyful activities for the classroom.
  • Participants will practice active reflection during the workshop and then list methods for self-reflection to use on a regular basis.
F4 Maryland Accreditation, Nicole Johnson (2.0 Professionalism)

Session Description: During this dynamic workshop, participants will learn about Maryland Accreditation and the process to achieve and publicly confirm that they meet high quality state standards. A program chooses to pursue self-appraisal, program improvement, external review, and continuous quality improvement to benefit children, families and staff. Attendance at this workshop meets the requirement to begin the Maryland Accreditation process.

Expected Outcomes: Participants will be introduced to the Maryland Accreditation process, the Maryland Accreditation online system and the Maryland Accreditation Standards. Participants will have completed the first required step to begin the Maryland Accreditation process. Licensed child care centers will learn how to obtain reimbursement for instructional materials purchased from the Accreditation Support Fund for pursuing Maryland Accreditation. Licensed child care centers and registered family child care providers will learn how to apply for Accreditation Support funds for fees required by national accrediting organizations recognized by the Maryland State Department of Education.

F5 Shifting from Family Involvement to Family Engagement, Nancy Cahlink-Seidler and Debbie Langer (2.0 Community)

Session Description: Parent involvement and family engagement both include interactions with families. The difference is that with family engagement, these interactions occur in the context of an ongoing and collaborative relationship. Meaningful relationships get us closer to effectively partnering with families and are a critical component of high-quality early care and education. When done well, family engagement practices can support the healthy social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of young children regardless of ethnic or socioeconomic background. Similarly, families, particularly those with limited resources, benefit when early care and education providers link them to support in times of need, increase their understanding of child development and provide classes and training to enhance their parenting practices. Join us as we discuss and plan ways to help families become more than just involved, but become actively engaged in order to have a more direct and positive impact on their children’s education and overall well-being.

F6 Leadership versus Management, Developing Your Staff Beyond their Current Job Position, Carlena Vaden (2.0 Professionalism)

Session Description:  Are all mangers good leaders? This is a question that many find themselves asking when thinking about the impact that leadership can have within an organization. This notion of managers versus leaders is a depiction of methods and how differently the two work to reach the people they supervise.  The best leaders and mangers aim to seek growth within staff.  They look for opportunities to promote, guide, and encourage.  Good leaders within an organization cultivate an atmosphere where everyone wants to perform at a high level.  Learn about traits needed to become that good leader and foster such a high level of leadership that staff will discover the leader within themselves.

 This session will be a mixture of presentation, small group activity, group discussion and video participation. From thought provoking discussions with table mates to hands on activities, this workshop is geared to explore the impact of leadership on management through staff development.  During this workshop, participants will engage in activities and discussions that will give leave them with ideas on leadership and staff development/coaching.


  • To examine the distinction between a leader and a manager.
  • To identify traits of great leadership.
  • To explore areas of leadership development within staff.
  • To discover areas to grow in leadership.
  • To explore areas of transitional leadership.

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Session 2 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

F7 Legos, Duplos, Megablocks, Oh My – Building Successful Preschoolers, Debbie Langer (2.0 Curriculum)

Session Description:  Children (and adults!) love playing and building with blocks and, as we all know by now, play is a child’s work and how they learn best. Come and play with me as we discover how to use play to teach skills in all areas of the curriculum using lego’s, duplo’s and megablocks. Along the way, we will learn the importance of keeping learning fun, discuss the many ways to use blocks to teach, participate in hands-on experiences, and plan/develop activities to use in your classroom.

F8 Wire Children’s’ Brains for Cooperation, Kindness and Helpfulness, Jane Plum (2.0 Child Development)

Session Description:  Learn from Conscious Discipline to develop an encouraging environment where all children are accepted for who they are.  The skill of noticing helps adults strengthen children’s pre-frontal lobes, bringing awareness to their actions and facilitating lasting change. Get rid of useless praise and build children’s brains for academic achievement with the skill of Encouragement.  Learn how to teach what classroom values such as kindness sound and feel like.

Participants will:

  • Review brain research related to encouraging language.
  • Practice the skill of noticing and eliminating judgement.
  • Practice language that stimulates children’s pre-frontal lobes, to increase academic achievement and social-emotional learning.
  • Learn alternatives to ineffective praise.
  • Discover techniques for intentionally teaching cooperation, kindness and helpfulness in the classroom.
F9 Break Them Out of the Mold: Creativity in the Age of Standardized Testing, National Expert, Rae Pica (2.0 Curriculum)

Session Description: Why is creativity important, and why, in this country, does it peak at about age 4? Structured classroom environments, insistence upon conformity, academic accountability, and emphasis on competition are often blamed for squelching creative potential. Yet the characteristics of creativity are what today’s kids will most need as they venture into an ever-changing future. This presentation offers ideas and encouragement to those hoping to nurture creativity, self-expression, and problem-solving skills.

F10 ABC’s of Child Care Subsidy – A Child’s First Scholarship, Rene Williams and John Lamb, MSDE (2.0 Professionalism)

Session Description: This presentation from MSDE Branch shares new guidelines, new eligibility requirements, new marketing and outreach for more eligible families to have access and equity related to quality early childhood/child care programs. FAQ’s, forms, tiered reimbursements strategies that will benefit children, families and your businesses will be presented.

F11 How Trauma Impacts the Brain and Nervous System and What to Do About It, Lauren Spigelmyer (2.0 Health, Safety and Nutrition)

Session Description: This workshop will provide participants with an interactive way of understanding and explaining how trauma affects the youth and impacts the brain and nervous system. Individuals will leave the workshop with techniques that build and strengthen relationships, foster respect, teach children to solve problems, and promote empathy and self-regulation.

This information and these strategies will give participants tools for preventing and addressing challenging behaviors through open and respectful communication and problem solving. Challenging behaviors continue to increase and trauma continues to present itself, so it is absolutely imperative that we educate adults on how to deal with and respond to these challenging events.

Our goal is to raise a generation who knows empathy, wellness and has a sense of belonging. We want to strengthen providers by bestowing the skills and informed methodologies needed for them to feel secure in their response techniques, and for youth to feel safe, comfortable, and develop the ability to regulate their emotions.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Upon completion of the workshop, learners will be able to describe the parts of the brain and nervous system and how they are impacted by trauma.
  • After completion of this workshop, learners will be able to identify why recognizing and addressing trauma is important.
  • At the end of the workshop, learners will develop a plan for applying strategies that help students regulate their emotions.
F12 Watch Them Grow! Using Observation to Track and Boost Child Development, Robert Wagner, Linda Carling, Kristen Thompson and Kelly Summy (2.0 Child Development)

Nurturing the development of young children has an enormous impact on their lifelong health and overall well-being. But how can you measure children’s growth to ensure that they are developmentally on track and ready for kindergarten? One of the most valuable ways to gather this crucial information is by observing children in natural, everyday settings and activities. In this workshop, participants will strengthen observation skills through practice, and then explore using observation data to plan excellent learning experiences. Participants will learn about and practice using the Early Learning Assessment (ELA), a free observation-based tool developed by the Maryland State Department of Education and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education. The ELA helps you understand and track the development of children between ages 36-72 months. The session will consider four key domains of development: language and literacy, social foundations, mathematics, and physical well-being and motor development.


  • Participants will gain strategies and best practices for observing the children in their care.
  • Participants will learn about the formative assessment process and how it applies to their setting.
  • Participants will learn about the Early Learning Assessment and how it can support them in observing and measuring children’s growth.

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm, Session 3 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

F13 Comprehensive Overview of the Division of Early Childhood/Office of Child Care Key Branches (Licensing, Credentialing and Accreditation, Subsidy, Training and EXCELS), Jennifer Nizer, Director MSDE – Office of Child Care Panel Branch Chiefs (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: All branches of the Office of Child Care will be represented and will share latest details and updates related to child care regulations and quality initiatives under the direction of Jennifer Nizer, Director of the Office of Child Care, MSDE.

F14 How to Navigate the Maze of Online Learning, Gillian Gansler (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: E-learning is everywhere! Yet, similar to in-person professional development, the quality of e-learning varies greatly. While all e-learning enables early childhood programs to obtain professional development without travel and the expense of on-site training, it can be difficult to determine how to evaluate the different approaches and costs of different online learning approaches. Using rubrics and examples of e-learning courseware, participants will explore best practices in e-learning and will discuss how to establish an online professional development system for their early education agency/program. Cases of successfully utilizing e-learning in neighboring states and local early education programs will also be explored. Online learning CAN be engaging, interactive, relevant and fun….while saving money and meeting the needs of ALL adult learners. Come find out how!

This workshop will utilize e-learning examples such as games and videos to engage the participants. Rubrics and research – some developed by universities – for evaluating e-learning will be shared. There will be small and large group discussions of effective e-learning systems. Participants will also have an opportunity to explore developing an e-learning system for their early education agency/program in addition to establishing an online professional development system.

F15 Math is Not Just Counting, Randi Albertsen (1.5 Curriculum)

Session Description: As one of the seven domains of learning, mathematical thinking and problem solving can be seen in children’s every day activities. This hands-on workshop introduces participants to the Maryland State Curriculums objectives for young children in this domain. Learn strategies for incorporating mathematical thinking and problem solving throughout your day.

F16 Kids and Tech Innovation and Developmental Domains, Marisel Torres-Crespo, Ph.D. (1.5 Child Development)

Session Description: During the preschool years, young children are starting to develop their initiative and creativity. Curiosity about the world around them drives their learning. They are constantly exploring their abilities to create and communicate by using a variety of media (crayons, markers, finger paints, craft materials, blocks, dramatic play materials, miniature life figures, and so on) and through creative movement, singing, dancing, and using their bodies to represent ideas and experiences.

Digital technologies, like iPads, provide one more outlet for them to demonstrate their creativity and learning.

The National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) developed a position statement regarding technology and young children: “Technology and interactive media are here to stay. Young children live in a world of interactive media. They are growing up at ease with digital devices that are rapidly becoming the tools of the culture at home, at school, at work, and in the community. With guidance, these various technology tools can be harnessed for learning and development; without guidance, usage can be inappropriate and/or interfere with learning and development”.

According to Karsentini and Fieves (2013), in recent years technology has been gaining significant ground, not just in the day-to-day lives of the young, but also at school. Also, different kinds of technologies have transformed society, particularly in terms of education and what the public expects education systems to deliver. Based on the previous statement, it is the teachers’ responsibility to create educational experiences that allow technology (iPads) to be part of the children appropriate development.

Child development is composed of four essential domains: cognitive, language, socio/emotional, and physical. Cognitive development means how children think, explore, and figure things out. Language development refers to the skills that children need to communicate with others. Socio/emotional development includes the child’s expression and management of emotions. Physical development consists of the developing control over the body, particularly muscles and coordination. This is an important piece of information because the main criticism of the use of technology (iPads) in the early settings is that it could have a negative impact on a child’s development.

After the course the participants will:

· Understand the educational benefits of a tablet in an early childhood setting.

· Understand how the teacher can measures child development through the use of a tablet.

· Learn the children’s reaction to the use of a tablet in an educational setting.

· Recognize how to use a tablet to help preschoolers to develop cognition.

· Comprehend how to use a tablet to help preschoolers to improve socio/emotional development.

· Know how to use a tablet to help preschoolers to develop language.

· Recognize how to use a tablet to help preschoolers with physical development.

5:15 pm – 7:00 pm, MSCCA Opening Reception with Exhibitors (free appetizers, drinks and DJ)
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, Keynote Kickoff, Educating the Whole – Thinking, Feeling, Moving – Child, Rae Pica, National Author and Keynote (1.5 Child Development)

Session Description: Developmentally appropriate practice dictates that we educate the whole child in an integrated fashion. But more than ever the trend is toward the mind and body as separate entities, with children regarded as existing only from the neck up. We have the research that proves how children learn; now we have to implement best practice! Rae’s presentation informs, entertains, and empowers as she explores the possibilities for uniting mind and body.

8:30 pm – 10:00 pm, DJ and Dancing

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Please Note: Conference by the Sea 2019 session details are preliminary pending MSDE approval and unforeseen changes

7:30 am – 8:00 am, Welcome and Grant Awards, MSCCA
8:00 am – 9:00 am, Plenary and Keynote Session, Best Day Ever – How to Create Experiences that Change the Way We Think, Steve Spangler (1.0 Curriculum)

Session Description: How do you turn ordinary moments into unforgettable learning experiences? You must first understand the differences in teaching styles. Combining his experience as a science teacher and award-winning toy designer, Steve helps teachers discover how to create educational experiences that make learning fun… and spread like a virus!

9:30 am – 11:00 am, Session 1 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

A1 Twinkle Little Star, See How Precious Babies Are, Cathy Lancelotta, Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor (1.5 Child Development)

Session Description: Teachers of infants and toddlers will learn how to offer their little ones the best beginnings in brain development through attachment, attunement, and changing the language we use with them. They will also learn how to implement “Baby Doll Circle Time”™ a powerful teaching activity, developed by Dr. Becky Bailey, specifically designed to enhance attachment, increase self-regulation, and promote trust through joyful interactions in group care.

Outcomes: Teachers will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of attachment and joy bonds for an infant’s optimal brain development. They will learn an innovative activity, Baby Doll Circle Time™ that will help them build those crucial bonds with more children in less time.

Method of Training: PowerPoint style slides, handout, videos, music and movement. Participants will be actively involved in the learning process through music and movement, interactions with one another and practicing the Baby Doll Circle Time™ activity.

B1 Setting Up for Success: Helping Children Adapt in Our Ever Changing World, Sandra Graham and Jen Fernandez (1.5 Special Needs)

Session Description: This training takes you on a journey through all the road blocks that may affect the ability for children to learn and be successful in school. It shifts the way we look at social emotional development and school readiness of young children. Let’s look at tools that will help you work with inclusive classrooms, cultural diversity and children affected by traumatic events. We will learn how building resiliency in young children can help them adapt to our ever-changing world.

C1 The Possibility of Discovery: Using Loose Parts to Enhance Children’s Learning, Sara Bosley and Morgan Horvath (1.5 Curriculum)

Session Description: Participants will be introduced to the wondrous world of loose parts.  Participants will discover how to use loose parts in classrooms to create authentic play experiences for all children.  Participants will be able to experience creative inspirations through using loose parts.

Outcomes include:

  • Identify the impact that play-based learning has on the healthy growth and development of children.
  • Define loose parts.
  • Intentionally identify how loose parts play can promote social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and creative competence for all children.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to use loose parts for children with varying social, emotional, cognitive and physical developmental needs.
D1 Your Voice for Helping Children Be Successful – Assertive Communication, Jane Plum, Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor (1.5 Child Development)

Session Description: Conscious Discipline can help you to focus on behaviors and actions that you desire for your classroom. Develop your assertive voice and learn the technique of Name, Verb, and Paint Commands. Change the culture of your classroom by communicating with children and adults in ways that model and teach respect. Explore the use of visual routines to increase children’s compliance with classroom expectations.

Participants will:
• Review brain research related to encouraging language.
• Practice the skill of noticing and eliminating judgement.
• Practice language that stimulates children’s pre-frontal lobes to increase academic achievement and social-emotional learning.
• Learn alternatives to ineffective praise.
• Discover techniques for intentionally teaching cooperation, kindness and helpfulness in the classroom.

E1 Supporting Young English Language Learners and Their Families, Professor Sonia Pruneda-Hernandez (1.5 Child Development)

Session Description: Supporting Young English Language Learners and Their Families is focused on identifying and understanding young English Language Learners, how they acquire the English language, stages that all English Language Learners go through, and what you as a teacher can do to support English language development.  Attendees will have the opportunity to review and identify appropriate multicultural books, materials, and curriculum objectives that are appropriate for all children with specific focus on English Language Learners.  Finally, attendees will develop strategies to support the families of young English Language Learners, including identifying creative ways to communicate daily.


  • Identify the stages that English Language Learners go through to learn English.
  • Explain how to support young children and their families with language, literacy, reading and writing in the classroom and home.
  • Describe how to select culturally appropriate books and materials for young English Language Learners children.
  • Develop a list of strategies that can be implemented to support the families of English Language Learners language.
L1 The Hiring Process, Dr. Syretha Storey (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: Through this workshop, participants will learn how to effectively develop interview questions. Leaders/Directors will learn how to better differentiate candidates and hire more qualified employees. 

11:15 am – 12:45 pm, Session 2 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

A2 What Should We Play With? Activities for Infants and Toddlers, Stephanie Cooper, M.Ed (1.5 Curriculum)

Session Description: This training will support teachers who want to add engaging learning experiences into their daily routines. After reviewing typical development, participants will explore several best practices that lend themselves to supporting learners with varying developmental needs in infant and toddler classrooms.


  • Describe the importance of observation in meeting the needs of all children.
  • Describe elements of developmentally appropriate practice that support children with varying developmental needs.
  • Identify engaging and appropriate activities and materials that promote exploration of a wide variety of play experiences.
B2 Discover Five Secrets to Becoming a Truly Amazing Teacher, Steve Spangler (1.75 Curriculum)

Session Description: It’s not great worksheets, colored overhead transparencies or interactive flip charts that make an amazing teacher—it’s the person. Truly amazing teachers have the ability to inspire students to achieve greatness by creating unforgettable learning experiences. Steve’s high-energy keynote will help you discover the five secrets to becoming an amazing teacher!
NOTE: Session may run until 1:00 pm.

C2 Math for the Win, Lisa Ann Dickinson (1.5 Curriculum)

Session Description: This training will introduce the approach of whole math.  Whole math is an approach to mathematics education that stimulates children to create mathematical relationships out of real-life situations.  We will review the developmental stages of quantification for the preschool child.  Lesson plan activities that include whole math for preschool and toddler age children will be explored and developed during the workshop.

Outcomes:   Participants will have a basic understanding of the developmental stages for the preoperational child.  Participants will complete a whole math activity to include in a lesson plan which includes: a description of the activity, materials, child’s level, questions to extend thinking, and integrated curriculum activities.

D2 Widening the Lens: Looking at Quality from a Program Administrative Perspective, Quality Assurance Specialists Sharon Vance, Meghan Leach-Gwynn and Rosemary Lober (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: An Overview of the Program Administration Scale (PAS). PAS is a tool that will systematically add to the leadership and management practices in your center. Data generated can be used to develop action plans for program improvement. Use of the Program Administration Scale to guide program improvement can qualify your program for the Quality Business Practices Achievement in Maryland EXCELS.

This training is the official overview of the Program Administration Scale (PAS) designated for use by the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership. PAS provides child care center directors and administrators with a systematic approach to assess critical leadership and management practices including human resources, budgeting and fiscal management, center operations, marketing, family partnerships, etc.

E2 Make the Connection: Nurturing Experiences and Toxic Stress, Crystal Ey (1.5 Health, Safety and Nutrition)

Session Description:  What occurs during the “serve and return” interaction between child and adult? What happens to the brain when this interaction is disrupted?  Join us to examine how adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) can result in toxic stress.  Learn the effects of toxic stress and your role in helping to combat this growing concern.  Build a portfolio of ideas to support “mindfulness” in young children.

L2 Facing the Mirror: Meaningful Self Assessment for Continuous Quality Improvement, Andrea Zabel (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description:  During this interactive workshop, participants will explore meaningful self-assessment as a guide to continuous quality improvements; review how to conduct authentic self-assessments; and determine how best to share the benefits of conducting meaningful self-assessments with any and all stakeholders.

Expected Outcomes: Participants will be able to: explain the need for meaningful self-assessments; conduct valid self-assessments regardless of the tool, across program types, and inclusive of all developmental and learning domains; and apply the information gained from the self-assessment to implement continuous quality improvements.

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm, Session 3 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

A3 STEM with Infants and Toddlers, Sheila George and Nicole Pierre (1.5 Curriculum)

Session Description: Experiential STEM learning begins at birth. As caregivers and teachers, we recognize that infants and toddlers are very active learners and that we need to introduce the principles of STEM to them in different ways than we do with older children. In this training we will address how infants and toddlers learn, what is the role of the caregiver and teacher, and how do we support STEM learning in young children, as well as what are some STEM activities for our youngest learners.

B3 Bringing Harmony to Discord: Managing Difficult Conversations, Laura Foster (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: Administrators and teachers occasionally find themselves facing difficult conversations with employees, colleagues, community members, or parents. Even if these conversations are rare, they can consume a tremendous amount of time and energy if we let them. This session will bring attention to techniques and reflections that can prepare administrators and teachers for these conversations. Participants will gain insight into managing hostility, anxiety, denial, and differences in values while developing intentional responses to implement in future conversations. Participants will actively explore how facts, feelings, and identity contribute to all conversations and especially how to increase sensitivity to the needs of others in a diverse, pluralistic school setting. Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to view difficult conversations through a lens of hope and harmony and bring real change to their school communities.

• Participants will examine their own feelings about difficult conversations and then practice active listening and clear communication utilizing the IMAGO paradigm of sending and receiving dialogue.
• Participants will analyze causes for difficult conversations and develop intentional responses that bring harmony to relationships.
• Participants will recognize the multitude of diverse identities in a pluralistic school setting.

C3 Toxic Stress: What is it and How Can You Support Children and Families, Laura Hutton (1.5 Child Development)
D3 School Age – New Director, New Staff and New Expectations, Gerald Bolden (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: If it was easy, anyone could do it. The afterschool world requires special people who are willing and want to rise to the challenge to make a difference to our youth of today. Starting a new position requires the right support, strong communication, and a strong work ethic to make that difference. Staff needs to understand what it means to be part of the team and be engaged the entire time. We want them to be invested.

At the end of the session participants will learn how to successfully multi-task, the responsibility of observing and being engaged while in the program.

E3 It Takes a Village: Understanding Generation X and Millennial Parents, Lacey Tsonis (1.5 Community)

Session Description: Are today’s parents difficult to understand and engage with? Or do we just not understand them? When we understand someone’s generational cohort and the experiences and characteristics which a generation shares, it is easier to understand who they are. Come explore how Gen X and Millennials were raised and how this influences their parenting attitudes and behaviors.

L3 Building Community through Collaboration: A Partnership Model, Claudia Martin and Linda Mercurio (1.5 Community)

Session Description:  This co-presented session will feature the story of how one county’s Early Childhood Advisory Council—the Washington County Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) —built a collaborative relationship with a county-wide cradle to career initiative—OnTrack Washington County, Inc.—to raise awareness, amplify voices, break down silos, and build an educational continuum for the county’s children from birth to career.

The Washington County Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) was created as part of Maryland’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant with the purpose of overcoming school readiness gaps and improving the early childhood service delivery system. The ECAC is made up of more than 20 active partners/member agencies. By developing a local infrastructure and employing a collective impact approach, the ECAC is able to more actively engage all community members in support of early childhood development and education and have greater impact on the lives of our children.

OnTrack Washington County, Inc. (OnTrack) is a coalition of approximately 40 community partners—from the educational, business, nonprofit, and civic leadership world—focused on raising the educational attainment levels of Washington County residents to strengthen the local economy and improve our community’s quality of life. A collective impact, cradle to career initiative, OnTrack seeks to empower citizens to acquire the educational or vocational training necessary for lifelong success. Much of OnTrack’s work is done through three Success Teams: Early Childhood; School Aged Youth; and Workforce/Career Readiness. With early buy-in and strong participation from the business community, OnTrack works to demonstrate to the community the impact of early learning on future workforce development.

Since OnTrack’s inception, the ECAC has been an active partner, holding a permanent position on OnTrack’s Board of Directors. As an active partner, the ECAC provides expertise for OnTrack’s early learning focus and is the managing entity for OnTrack’s Early Childhood Success Team.

In this session, participants will learn how to foster these partnerships in their own communities. Participants will also learn about specific projects the ECAC and OnTrack have collaborated on to promote early childhood initiatives and create positive change.  The story of how one county’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) built a collaborative relationship with a county-wide cradle to career initiative to raise awareness, amplify voices, break down silos, and build an educational continuum for the county’s children from birth to career is explored. Come join us to learn how to foster these partnerships in your community.

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm, Session 4 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

A4 Reality Bites, Jill Lyons (1.5 Child Development)

Session Description: In this training, participants will learn why a child’s development can be a key factor in understanding why children bite. Included are strategies on how to handle several types of biting situations as well as how to discuss a biting incident with parents.


  • Participants will explore the different perspectives from which one might view biting behavior in the classroom, including the child’s perspective, the family’s perspective, and the teacher’s perspective.
  • Participants will understand the developmental nature of biting behavior and how it makes participants feel (including how the child who bites might feel, how the child who is bitten might feel, how the family might feel, and how the teachers might feel).
  • Participants will develop a comprehensive approach to handling biting that includes a focus on the child who bites, the child who is bitten, the family, the classroom, the schedule, and the teachers’ problem solving strategies.
B4 Building Resiliency in Young Children, Randi Albertson (1.5 Health Safety and Nutrition)

Session Description: From handling disappointment, to managing stress, to dealing with adversity – what causes some children to melt down and others to move forward? Grit and resilience. Fortunately, there are strategies we can teach children to build resiliency. This workshop explores ways in which early childhood educators can support resilience in young children and promote positive social outcomes.

C4 Workforce Development and Career Pathways, College Consortium (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description:  This is a panel discussion on workforce development opportunities, educational pathways at community colleges, and attending or transferring to four-year universities.  Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about applying to colleges, financial aid and/or scholarships available, and supports that colleges/universities may offer.  The panel discussion will provide time for questions and answers.

  • Identify workforce development opportunities at community colleges and support that leads to the credit side.
  • Discuss educational pathways at community colleges throughout the state of Maryland.
  • Examine paths to attend or transfer to four-year universities in Maryland.


D4 Nature 2.0 – Using Authentic Materials Instead of Worksheets, Lavonne Taylor (1.5 Curriculum)

Session Description: Using natural materials in the classroom is a great way to not only cut costs, but also to provide great sensory experiences using authentic materials. This workshop will extend on last year’s exploration of natural materials by exploring how teachers can use natural materials to create valuable learning experiences in all curriculum domains.

E4 Sensory Sensitivities, Sara Bosley and Morgan Horvath (1.5 Special Needs)

Session Description:  This training provides participants with an understanding of sensory integration, sensory integration dysfunction, and how sensory issues can impact children with autism spectrum disorders.  It discusses ways to include ‘sensory diets’ and sensory activities that assist children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to be successful in their learning environments. 

Outcomes Include:

  • Increase participants’ knowledge of sensory processing and sensory processing disorder.
  • Explain how using sensory integration techniques can help children with particular special needs that may be more affected by sensory sensitivities.
  • Offer strategies to enable educators to provide the best learning environment possible for all children.
L4 Understanding and Preventing Suspensions and Expulsions, Dr. Syretha Storey (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: Increasingly, Early Childhood Educators are expelling young children from child care programs as a result of challenging behaviors. This session reviews a more expansive definition and looks at consequences of suspension and expulsion. Early Childhood Educators will learn some new strategies for reducing risks of over-reliance on behavior management strategies. Presenter will share information from training at Harvard University.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Please Note: Conference by the Sea 2019 session details are preliminary pending MSDE approval and unforeseen changes

Su1 8:30 am – 9:30 am, Advocacy and Your Voice, Compass and MSCCA Public Advocacy and Legislation team, Isaac Meyer (1.0 Professionalism)

Session Description: Isaac Meyer, Partner at Compass Government Relations, and the MSCCA Legislative Task Force will share the importance of advocacy and how we can make a difference as individuals and as a collective Association. The session will touch on the important work of the Innovations in Excellence in Education Commission (Kirwan Commission) and legislation related to Pre K expansion and Universal Pre K in Maryland, as well as other initiatives recommended in the final report. The session will also provide an overview of the 2019 legislative session related to child care, early childhood education, business and relevant bills that could impact our field. In addition, MSCCA will provide an update on the advocacy related committee’s progress, including the Evening in Annapolis Advocacy initiative, National Governors Association and Chief Council School Superintendent’s work, the Workforce Competency Workgroup, Lead Poisoning Prevention Commission and the Coalition of Partners for Progress.

Su2 9:45 am – 11:15 am, Closing Keynote, Finding Your Personal Educational Passion, Lillian Hubler (1.5 Professionalism)

Session Description: High-energy, fun event. Participants will learn: why they are the way they are, what motivates them, and how they can best utilize their unique talents to positively impact their lives and classrooms, including how to put your best foot forward before leaving home, how to visualize and verbalize your day, how to revisit your life’s dreams that guided you to work with young children, how to unlock your personal power to be more happy, grateful, and positively motivated from the moment you start your day, every day – the 6 Basic Needs.

11:15 am – 12:45 pm Session 1 (Select + for Class Descriptions)

Su3 Teaching Social-Emotional Academic Learning, Dr. Michael Hubler (1.5 Child Development)

Session Description: Life-changing lessons in how to deal effectively with misbehavior. Participants will learn to flip all of their home or classroom misbehaviors into opportunities to provide positive reinforcement necessary to eliminate future misbehavior. Learn to teach your children to problem solve for themselves to deal with situations that cause them frustration and result in errant behavior. Also, learn to teach and promote children’s self-control.

Participants will walk through the social emotional behavioral process that teaches children the necessary skills to interact and assist other children in dealing with classroom conflict.

They will learn how to teach their children to empathize with others. This is particularly important for the boys in the classroom. Teachers will learn important techniques to minimize negative behaviors in the classroom, provide children with positive opportunities to express their emotions, and how enhancing parent relationships can help reduce misbehavior in the classroom. Participants learn to use common classroom emotional learning scenarios to help children understand and control their emotions and resultant behavior.

Su4 Peace Talks – Innovative Ways to Tackle Challenging Behaviors, Dr. Donna Satterlee, Flora Gee, Michelle Leneski and Rose Merryweather (1.5 Child Development)

Session Description: This presentation will enhance understanding of the necessary dispositions to create a safe place in a caring, peaceful classroom community. The attendees will learn about helping children develop resilience, self-regulation, values, respect and problem solving skills.

Helping children to develop the dispositions of a peaceful, caring community is the theme we initiated as we worked toward creating a safe place in the classrooms in three centers. We were awarded a grant
by P.E.A.C.E. to buy some parts and pieces to enhance these classrooms and, according to the results from our research study, it made a difference. In this session, we will explore the theoretical underpinnings of creating peaceful classrooms from three perspectives.

One of the centers focused on creating inside comfy corners, and reading stories; another focused on being comfortable outside, setting up a place to converse and read with friends; and the third center
focused on teaching inner peace and breathing techniques while spending time in the peaceful herb garden. All of the centers helped the children learn to self-regulate, solve problems and respect their
fellow classmates.

Learning Outcomes:
• The importance of teachers recognizing the caring dispositions such as empathy, compassion, rapport, fairness and cultural competence
• To enhance the children’s development of respect, value, problem-solving skills, self-regulation, resilience, and creating a safe place in a caring, peaceful classroom community
• To investigate the necessary dispositions for handling conflict in a peaceable program.
• To identify strategies and resources to build and sustain a peaceable program.

Su 5 Achieving Quality, The Maryland Child Care Credential, Angeline Bishop- Oshoko, LaTanya Taylor and Agneatha Wright (1.5 Professionalism)

The Maryland Child Care Credential is a voluntary program that recognizes child care providers who go beyond the requirements of State licensing and registration regulations. There are seven staff credential levels and four administrative credential levels, each one recognizing a child care provider’s achievement of a specified number of training clock hours, experience and professional activities important for providing quality child care programs. Participating providers are required to complete training in six Core of Knowledge areas that will help them develop the knowledge and skills to provide the best possible care for the children and families they serve.

Keynote Speakers

Steve Spangler

Keynote Speaker, American Television Personality, Author and Science Teacher

Website: Steve Spangler

Steve Spangler is well-known for his work as a funny and engaging science guy on stage, television and as a YouTube celebrity. Spangler is an authority on STEM education with more than 1,800 television appearances to his credit. He’s a regular guest on the Ellen Show where he never fails to entertain the Burbank Fire Department. Steve is the host of the three-time Emmy nominated television series DIY Sci airing on FOX affiliates nationwide. Steve Spangler is a best-selling author, an Emmy award-winning television personality and a Hall of Fame Speaker Inductee who shares his expertise in turning engagement opportunities into unforgettable experiences in education.

Why does Steve Spangler do all of this? His passion is to find the most creative ways to make learning fun. His methods might be unconventional, but the goal is to turn ordinary life lessons into unforgettable learning experiences.

Video: Steve Spangler Makes It Rain(bow)!

Rae Pica

Keynote Speaker, Early Childhood Keynote Speaker, Consultant, Author

Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting

Rae has been an education consultant since 1980 and is the most-published author in the fields of children’s physical activity and active learning. A former adjunct instructor with the University of New Hampshire, she is the author of 19 books, including the textbook Experiences in Movement and Music (now in its 5th edition) and, most recently, What If Everybody Understood Child Development?: Straight Talk About Bettering Education and Children’s Lives.

Additionally, Rae blogs for Huffington Post, is a former columnist for Young Children, and is cofounder of BAM Radio Network (, the world’s largest online education radio network, where she hosts Studentcentricity, interviewing experts in education, child development, play research, the neurosciences, and more.

Video:  The Importance of Movement in Early Childhood Education

Lillian Hubler

Keynote Speaker, President and Founder, Time to Sign, Inc.

Time to Sign, Inc. 

Lillian Hubler is the founder and President of Time to Sign, Inc., the foremost sign language trainer of young children’s educators, having trained more than 50,000 educators nationwide. She is a dynamic presenter who makes all her presentations engaging and fun, as well as educational. Participants are amazed at how much sign language they learn in a single enjoyable session.

Lillian is nationally known for her workshops and presentations because her passion for what does is undeniably visible. She has appeared on CNN, ABC, NBC, as well as being interviewed by Florida Today and the Washington Post. She has been the owner and director of a licensed Day care with 135 children aged from birth to 12 years old. She and her husband, Michael, have authored over 25 books.

Video:  How are you feeling?

Conference by the Sea Speakers

Dianna Aguirre

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

In her position with Maryland EXCELS, Dianna promotes and helps to implement quality childcare programs by training providers and programs on national and state accreditation standards. She maintains a database of participating and non-participating programs. Dianna collaborates with local agencies to improve equitable access to quality early care and educational programs.

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.

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.

Gerald Bolden

Program Director & Extended Day Auxiliary Manager, Wonders Early Learning and Extended Day

Gerald is the Program Director and Auxiliary Program Manager for Wonders Extended Day. He is a seasoned school age professional who has had a variety of leadership roles at Wonders during the past 14 years, including Curriculum Instructional Specialist and Camp Coordinator. Gerald’s 25 years of experience have been enriched by the connections he has made with children and families, and strengthened by effective communication and team work. These characteristics are the foundation of his training philosophy.

Gerald presented at the National After School Association Conference in 2017 and the Tri-State Camp Conference in 2016 and 2017.

Sara Bosley

Program Manager, Project Act, Inc.

Sara has served children, families and caregivers for over 19 years by creating innovative solutions to early learning systems and programs. She provides training to early childhood educators on learning standards and state regulations. In addition, Sara provides child-specific consultation services in early care and education programs at the request of the early care and education director with the consent of the child’s parents. She supports community revitalization and truancy efforts in Baltimore city in conjunction with 20 nonprofit agencies, and helped organize and plan a statewide early childhood conference.

Nancy P. Cahlink-Seidler

Training Coordinator/Training Specialist, MSDE Office of Child Care

In her role with MSDE, Nancy is responsible for overseeing 100+ state approved trainers and organizations. She clarifies policies and procedures and recommends approval or denial of trainers and training proposals. Nancy also coordinates and shares information with MSDE staff and branches on programs, regulations and policies that affect service delivery. She deals with programmatic issues, training and funding opportunities, and works closely with Credentialing and the MD Excels divisions. Nancy obtained an Early Childhood Mental Health Certification from the University of Maryland, earned her Master’s in Education/Business from Strayer University, and also has a Teaching Certification K-8 from Keene State College.

Coordinate and share information on programs, regulations and policies that affect service delivery to MSDE staff and Branches throughout the State of Maryland
Communicate and discuss programmatic issues, training, and funding opportunities
Work closely with Credentialing and MD Excels Divisions

Linda Carling

Senior Program Director for Learning, Engagement, and Design/Associate Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins University School of Education CTE

Linda Carling, EdD is the Senior Program Director for Learning, Engagement, and Design at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education Center for Technology in Education (CTE). In this role, she leads the team that designs, builds, and implements high quality learning experiences for a range of initiatives for general and special educators and early childhood providers statewide, including the professional development for Maryland’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and Early Learning Assessment. Prior to joining CTE, Dr. Carling was an elementary school teacher for a local school system, a curriculum developer and teacher for eSylvan, and a child care teacher.

Stephanie Cooper

Infant and Toddler Lead Specialist, Project ACT

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 childcare providers throughout Maryland.

Lisa Ann Dickinson

President of the Baltimore County Chapter of MSCCA

Lisa Ann Dickinson has been in the field of Early Childhood Education for 28 years. She has taught all levels of development from infancy through college. She spent many years in the classroom as a two-year-old teacher, pre-kindergarten teacher, and infant teacher and has worked in an administration capacity as an Assistant Director and Director. Mrs. Dickinson is currently the Education Coordinator for the Goddard School in Owings Mills. She has served in the past as a Board Member of the Maryland State Child Care Association and has been an active member of the Professional Development Committee for many years. She is currently the President of the Baltimore County Chapter of MSCCA.

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 contributes 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.

Gillian Gansler

Vice President, Quality Assist

Gillian Gansler is the Vice President of Quality Assist, an early education company based in Atlanta, Georgia. For over 30 years, Quality Assist has provided professional development, technical assistance and evaluation services to federal and state government agencies, private for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and individual child care and Head Start programs. Quality Assist has developed innovative e-learning professional development courses and systems that are currently being utilized by early education providers across the nation through Quorum, an early education e-professional development program. Quorum is an integral part of the workforce initiatives in Washington, DC. Quality Assist is the e-learning partner of Kaplan Early Learning Company.

Gillian has a Bachelors Degree and has worked in early education for over 20 years, including four years at the Georgia Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC affiliate).

Sheila George

Educational Trainer, LiteBrite, LLC

Sheila George graduated from Millersville University with a degree in Education. She has worked as a homecare provider, a preschool teacher and director, a before and after school group leader, a director and coordinator. Sheila has also been a Child Development Specialist and a Harford County public school teacher. She is currently a teacher mentor and coach, a certified PreK CLASS observer, and an adult educator. Sheila also works for Robert Leslie Publishing Company as a consultant and provides professional development training for their curriculum.

Sheila has enjoyed working with children and students of all ages in a variety of educational settings for over 25 years. She has been proud of her work with Johns Hopkins Center for Technology in Education, supporting the roll out of the Early Learning Assessment in Maryland and training trainers for the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment in Maryland and other states. 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 Graham 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 throughout the United States in person and via webinar, and develops new training modules for the Kiddie Academy System.

Morgan Horvath

Director, Abilities Network Project ACT

Morgan has been dedicated to meeting the needs of children and families for well over a decade. She completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Guilford College before pursuing a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education at Johns Hopkins University. Morgan spent many years working directly with children with a variety of disabilities in a special needs school setting, providing instruction and planning to meet their academic and behavioral needs. She also worked with children in their homes and communities as a Behavioral Support Counselor with Abilities Network. In spring 2012, Morgan joined the Project ACT team. She now leads the Project ACT team, ensuring that the providers and families they serve across the state of Maryland receive the high quality coaching and training needed so that children of all abilities can be successfully included in their community settings.

Laura Hutton

Associate Professor and Teacher Education Department Coordinator, Harford Community College

Laura Hutton is an Associate Professor and Teacher Education Department Coordinator at Harford Community College. She has taught a variety of ages including in a multi-age 3-5 year-old preschool classroom. She has a master’s degree in early childhood special education and is a proponent of relationship-focused care and developmentally appropriate practices.

Mary Beth Johnson

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Mary Beth Johnson 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. Mary Beth lives in Queenstown with her husband, two children, one very active black lab, two cats, goldfish, hermit crabs and, occasionally, a rescued turtle.

Nicole Johnson

Accreditation Specialist, MSDE Division of Early Childhood

Nicole Johnson has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Towson University. She launched her career as an educator within the Baltimore City Public School System teaching second grade for seven years. After that, she worked for Y Head Start Baltimore City at the Y of Central Maryland as the Director of Early Childhood Education and Health Services for 10 years. Currently, Nicole is the Accreditation Specialist for the Division of Early Childhood in the Maryland EXCELS Branch. Nicole is committed and excited to help Maryland programs use the Maryland Accreditation process as a tool for continued self-improvement.

John Lamb

Deputy Chief, MSDE Office of Child Care Subsidy

John is Deputy Chief of the Office of Child Care Subsidy. During his 30 year state career, he has been an advocate for children in need of quality child care and for promoting stability in a child’s early childhood development. In addition to John’s current position, he has worked directly with foster care children as the Assistant Director for a non-profit group home for 11 years, focusing on education and independency by 21. John is very passionate about helping children to become successful and about educating parents on other programs that may help stabilize the family and move them beyond the income limits of the Child Care Subsidy Program. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and spending time with Peggy, his wife of 35 years.

Cathy Lancelotta

Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor

Cathy Lancelotta is a Certified Conscious Discipline Instructor and Director of Heritage Preschool at Heritage United Methodist Church in Overland Park, Kansas. Cathy has worked in the field of early childhood for 25 years and has been a Certified Conscious Discipline Instructor since 2006. Cathy holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Family Life and Environment from Louisiana State University. She is a member of the ACEI (Association for Child good Education International), NAEYC, and Mid-America AEYC as well as the Christian Early Childhood Association of Greater Kansas City.

Debbie Langer

Training Approval Specialist, MSDE Office of Child Care

Debbie has a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University of Portland, Oregon and is also completed 9 semester hours of Guidance Counselor Graduate Training Courses,
Currently, Debbie is the Training Approval Specialist – MSDE Office of Child Care where she coordinates and shares information on programs, regulations and policies that affect service delivery to MSDE staff and branches throughout the State of Maryland. Debbie focuses on programmatic issues, training, and funding opportunities, and works closely with Credentialing and MD Excels divisions.

Meghan Leach-Gwynn

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Meghan has an M.Ed in Early Childhood from Towson University and my BS in Early Childhood Program Administration from Cazenovia College in NY. She has been in the early childhood field for more than 15 years with experience teaching all age groups, the majority of her career spent as a center director. In 2017, she joined the Maryland EXCELS team as a Quality Assurance Specialist for Baltimore County.

Rosemary Lober

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Rosemary is a graduate of Towson University with dual degrees in both early childhood and elementary education. She has spent more than 25 years in the field as a teacher, mentor, center director, and most recently as a Quality Assurance Specialist with Maryland EXCELS. Her focus is on ensuring best practices and offering guidance and instruction for children, families, and teachers. In addition to her formal position, she also serves on the Project Act Advisory Board as well as the Harford Community College Early Childhood Advisory Council. She continues to be immersed in realm of early childhood in her most important role…mom to two young boys.

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.

Isaac Meyer

Managing Partner, Compass Government Relations Partners

Isaac Meyer is a seasoned government relations consultant with ten years of experience working with nonprofits and corporations to meet their advocacy and public policy goals. Isaac is currently a Partner at Compass Government Relations Partners in Annapolis Maryland. Prior to that, he worked with Alexander & Cleaver; was a principal at INM Consulting, a management consulting firm focused on helping nonprofit organizations maximize their government relations operations; and served as Government Relations Manager for Service Corporation International (SCI) after successfully representing their interests in Maryland as a member of the Alexander & Cleaver team. Before joining SCI, Isaac was a government relations consultant for Alexander & Cleaver. Isaac regularly worked with clients to create their public policy agenda and secure state operating and capital budget funding.

Isaac is a graduate of Towson University in Maryland where he received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. While at Towson University, he created the student legislative advocacy program on behalf of the Student Government Association. During his two-year term as Director of Legislative Affairs, Isaac cultivated relationships with champions in higher education and drafted the first student-written legislative agenda in the State of Maryland. Isaac graduated from the University of Maryland Smith School of Business with an MBA in June 2018.

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.

Director, Office of Child Care, Maryland State Department of Education

Jenn Nizer has her Master’s in Education from Towson University. She has spent the better part of two decades being an advocate for child care programs, teachers, children and families. She has been a Director for Johns Hopkins Bayview Child Development Center and adjunct faculty for CCBC colleges in Maryland. Jenn served as President of the Maryland State Child Care Association (MSCCA) for almost 7 years. She worked as a curriculum specialist in Florida and recently moved back to her home state to accept the position of Director of the Office of Child Care at the Maryland State Department of Education. Jenn’s Dad was a Maryland teacher and she is excited to be back in a leadership role in Maryland to make a difference for children and providers/teachers.

Nicole Pierre

Educational Trainer, LiteBrite, LLC

Nicole is an Educational Trainer for LiteBrite, LLC. She graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Communications and worked in the marketing field for several years before deciding to open her own family child care business. Nicole 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.

Nicole worked as a 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. Nicole 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.

Jane Plum

Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor

Sonia Pruneda-Hernandez

Professor and Early Childhood Program Coordinator, Montgomery College

Professor Sonia Pruneda-Hernandez is the Early Childhood Program Coordinator for Montgomery College Rockville and Takoma Park Campuses.  Sonia earned her M.S. from Nova Southeastern University and her B.A. from the University of North Florida.  She is a current doctoral candidate of early childhood education at Walden University.  Sonia started her career in early childhood education with the Navy Child Care Programs in Jacksonville, Florida and continued in the ECE field directing and training in Child Care Centers for the Department of Defense – Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy and then government centers in Rockville, MD.  She has worked extensively throughout her career assisting child care centers through the NAEYC Accreditation process.

Professor Pruneda-Hernandez is the Co-Advisor of the MC Early Childhood Education Club, which has received numerous awards.  She is one of the lead developers of the Advancing Child Care Teachers Towards Completion (ACCTTC) Initiative and is the MC Coordinator for the Maryland State Department of Education Child Care Career and Professional Development Fund.  Professor Pruneda-Hernandez has been teaching early childhood education classes at Montgomery College since 2006.  She was awarded the MC Faculty Outstanding Service Award in 2015 and the NISOD of Excellence Award in 2016.  Professor Pruneda-Hernandez was also the recipient of the American Association of Community College Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty designation for 2018.  Her key role is supporting Early Childhood Educators with pathways that lead them to create high quality environments for young children birth through age 5.

Thea Quible

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Thea Quible has been working in the field of early childhood education for the last 19 years. Early on in her career, she had the opportunity to impact children and families as a Pre-K teacher, child care center director as well as an early childhood coordinator while working with Early Head Start. More recently, Thea has had the opportunity to support early childhood educators while working as a Technical Assistant and Education Director with Arundel Child Care Connections. In her current role as a Quality Assurance Specialist for Maryland EXCELS, she is now able to impact the lives of children, families, AND early childhood educators! Her goal is to empower you so that you can be the best early childhood educator you can be and, in turn, impact the families and children enrolled in your programs.

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.

Lauren Spigelmyer

Executive Director, The Behavior Hub Non-profit

Having been in education for over 10 years, Lauren has the knowledge and experience to back her thoughts and to build quality, child-driven profiles for each client. Being an adventurer, Lauren loves to find nontraditional solutions and make sure that boundaries are being pushed.

Her passion for children and whole health inspired her to open The Behavior Hub Non-profit with the goal of teaching people how to communicate and connect with each other and children in a more dignifying way. She wants children to know how to lead their best lives in all domains of well-being (mental, emotional, and physical).

Syretha Storey, PhD

Director, NASA Goddard Child Development Center

Dr. Syretha Storey has been in the field of early childhood education for more than 30 years.  During this time, she has been a teacher, child care center director, trainer and family child care director.  She also has significant experience as a post-secondary educator.  Through her company, The Child Care Company, Dr. Story brings her knowledge and expertise to early childhood programs throughout the state as an MSDE approved trainer.  Dr. Storey is currently the Director of NASA Goddard Child Development Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  She manages an online Directors group as a way to facilitate partnerships between center-based child care programs in the state of Maryland. Dr. Storey is also the President of the PG County Chapter of The Maryland State Child Care Association (PGMSCCA) and Secretary for MSCCA.

Kelly Summy

Project Administrator, Johns Hopkins University School of Education CTE

Kelly Summy is a Project Administrator at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education Center for Technology in Education (CTE). She focuses on creating and presenting professional development related to the Early Learning Assessment (ELA) and Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA). Prior to joining CTE, Ms. Summy worked as an early childhood ESOL teacher, general educator, and interventionist in Baltimore City Public Schools. Ms. Summy studied linguistics and neurobiology at Harvard University and holds an M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University.

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 currently 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.

Kristen Thompson

IT Manager, Johns Hopkins University School of Education CTE

Kristen Thompson, M.S., is the Technical Project Manager at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education Center for Technology in Education (CTE). In this role, she manages CTE technology products, including the Ready for Kindergarten Online System and related technologies that support Maryland’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and Early Learning Assessment. Previously, she managed and supported the development and delivery of professional development initiatives at CTE. Prior to working at CTE, Ms. Thompson worked as a director of a youth program, as well as a child care teacher.

Marisol Torres-Crespo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Hood College

Marisel N. Torres-Crespo is originally from Puerto Rico but moved to Maryland in 2012 to teach at Hood College in Frederick, MD.  She received her BA and MA degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from the University of Puerto Rico and her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction Early Childhood Education from Penn State University.

She has been teaching at college level since 2002 in universities in Puerto Rico and also at Penn State. Her teaching style is a collaborative one, in which every member of the learning community has something important to add and share.  Everyone will learn from everyone.  She also worked as an Academic Consultant for Publishing Companies and Head Start. Her research interests are play, arts, gender roles, STEM in early childhood, multiculturalism, and lately, technology in the early years.

In addition to being an Associate Professor and Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator at Hood College, she is the Director of the Onica Prall Child Development Laboratory School. That gives her the “best of two worlds” – little kids in the morning and big kids in the afternoon! 

Lacey Tsonis

Assistant Deputy Director Resource and Referral Services, Maryland Family Network

Lacey has worked with children, families, and within the child care world for over 15 years. She started as a School-Age Director and Summer Camp Director, before moving on to the Howard County Child Care Resource Center as the Professional Development Coordinator. In her role at Maryland Family Network, she assists in the oversight and management of the Maryland Child Care Resource Network, as well as working tirelessly to advocate for the children, families, and early care and education professionals throughout Maryland. She received her Bachelor’s in Child & Family Studies from Albright College in Reading, PA.

Carlena Vaden

Trainer, MSDE and Founder, Divine Illumination Agency

Carlena Vaden holds a BA in Political Science from Morgan State University, a MEd from Strayer University with a concentration in management, and is pursuing an EdD in Education Leadership and Management from Capella University. She has provided leadership training and professional workshops for public and private educational organizations and at national conferences. Ms. Vaden has been highlighted in the Early Childhood Report, February 2017 issue on leadership and professional development. Carlena is also a Maryland State Department of Education approved trainer. It is her desire to see that all students are given the proper tools and support needed to be successful in their educational journey.

Carlena has over 15 years of experience in the education field and is currently in the dissertation phase of the doctoral program. She has led and pioneered several different school based and non-school based projects that increased leadership functionality and brought moral support to institutions. These projects included, but were not limited to, seminar sessions, consulting of leadership services, and educational consulting for instructional and managerial support.

Sharon Vance

Quality Assurance Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

Sharon holds a BS in Early Childhood Education and has been working with early childhood and school-age children in licensed care since the late 80’s as teacher, director, coordinator, trainer, advocate, and general jack of all trades. For the last five years she has been a Quality Assurance Specialist working with child care providers in Carroll County and around the state providing assistance with Maryland EXCELS and other quality improvement initiatives.

Robert Wagner

Education Program Specialist, MSDE Division of Early Childhood

Robert Wagner works in the Division of Early Childhood Development at the Maryland State Department of Education. As an Education Program Specialist, he oversees the implementation of the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and the Early Learning Assessment. He works with the early childhood supervisor in each of the 24 school districts with grant funding for professional development. Prior to his current position, he worked with Anne Arundel County Public Schools as a teacher in general education and special education for 11 years before becoming an elementary school principal for 22 years. Mr. Wagner was the NAESP National Distinguished Principal for Maryland in 2011.

Rene’ D. Williams, M.Ed.

Branch Chief, MSDE Office of Child Care

Rene’ D. Williams, M.Ed., is the Chief of Child Subsidy for Maryland’s CCDF Lead Agency, the Maryland State Department of Education. Rene’ considers the Child Care Subsidy Voucher as “A Child’s First Scholarship” on their path to self-sufficiency and to becoming a life-long learner and contributor. Two decades of her work has focused on the management and implementation of State and/or County Child Care Subsidy (CCS) Programs and the provision of support services to those committed to advancing equal access to high quality, affordable, early care and education. Because she believes a solid educational foundation breaks generational-poverty and is the cornerstone for building a stronger nation, her primary interest is identifying child care subsidy barriers within four (4) key areas that impact continuity of care: Parents, Providers, Payment and Policy.

Andrea L. Zabel, M.Ed.

Quality Measurement Specialist, Maryland EXCELS

In her role as Quality Measurement Specialist with Maryland EXCELS, Andrea trains contracted assessors to reliability on the ITERS-R, ECERS-R, SACERS-u, FCCERS-R and Pre-K CLASS observation tools. She assigns assessors to conduct observations at programs participating in Maryland EXCELS. In addition, Andrea reviews, edits and sends site visit Summary Reports to programs. She participates in Maryland EXCELS Leadership Team projects, collaborates with statewide Quality Assurance Specialists, and represents Maryland EXCELS at state and local meetings and events.