• Registration Information

    Registration Information

    2023 Teaching Kindergarten Conference:
    “Where Did the Garden Go? Thinking, Exploring and Rebuilding Together”

    Date and Time:
    March 3, 2023 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM ET
    March 4, 2023 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET


    • Virtual (via Zoom). Attend live sessions or access the recordings after!

    Conference Fees:

    Additional Information:

  • Conference Schedule

    Conference Schedule

    Friday, March 3, 2023

    Time (Eastern) Activity (Via Zoom)
    5:30 PM – 5:40 PM Welcome Remarks
    5:40 PM – 6:30 PM Keynote:
    The Art and Craft of Teaching Kindergarten: “Neuro-Sculpturing” with Play
    Catherine Steiner-Adair, Clinical Psychologist and Research Associate at Harvard Medical School
    6:30 PM – 6:40 PM Break
    6:40 PM – 7:45 PM Arts Gathering:
    Sparking Joy: Dance & Music in the Kindergarten Classroom
    Emily Meisner, Director of the NDI Collaborative for Teaching & Learning

    Saturday, March 4, 2023

    Time (Eastern) Activity (via Zoom)
    10:30 AM – 10:45 AM Welcome Remarks
    Conference Honoree: Deborah Meier
    10:45 AM – 11:35 AM Keynote:
    Centering Freedom Through Play: Free to Develop, Free to Learn, Free to Teach
    Denisha Jones, Executive Director of Defending the Early Years
    11:45 AM – 12:55 PM Morning Breakout Sessions
    12:55 PM– 1:45 PM Lunch & Learn:
    Make-Believe Gun Play in a World of Gun Violence (optional)
    Nicole Limperopulos, faculty member in the Department of Leadership at Bank Street College
    1:45 PM – 2:30 PM Author’s Corner:
    Inventing Stories & Connecting with Young Children: An Author’s Perspective
    Matt de la Peña, #1 New York Times Bestselling and Newbery Medal-winning author
    2:40 PM – 3:50 PM Afternoon Breakout Sessions

    Participants will make their workshop selection after registering for the conference.

  • Keynote Presentations

    Keynote Presentations

    The Art and Craft of Teaching Kindergarten: “Neuro-sculpturing” with Play
    You will be inspired as you learn about your role as a “neurosculptor.” Learn to recognize the power of your words and the interactions with the children in your kindergarten classroom. Discover what current research tells us about the brain development of 5- and 6-year-olds, the impact of technology, and why social interactions, imaginative play, and creativity continue to be essential. 

    Catherine Steiner-Adair has been a clinical psychologist and research associate at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years. She is on the faculty of the Family Institute of Cambridge and is an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Steiner-Adair has consulted with over 250 independent and public schools, working with teachers, directors, parents, and students on the neuroscience of early development and the impact of technology on children, teachers, and families. She has presented at conferences throughout the United States and internationally. She is the author of three books including The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age (Harpur, 2014) and numerous academic papers. She received her BA from Bowdoin University and her EdD from Harvard University in Clinical Psychology.

    Sparking Joy: Dance &  Music in the Kindergarten Classroom
    In this joyful dance and music workshop, National Dance Institute’s senior teaching artists will guide you on how to enrich your classroom with movement and music. The workshop will focus on imaginative storytelling, movement games, and musical explorations. You will leave this gathering with practical ideas for making your classroom/educational setting an inviting space for dance and movement, as well as tools to help kindergarteners explore creativity and self-expression.  

    Emily Meisner began teaching and choreographing for National Dance Institute (NDI) in 2003 and was named the director of the NDI Collaborative for Teaching & Learning in 2019. As a teaching artist, Emily has taught in diverse public school communities throughout New York City, instructing more than 500 children each week in dance education. In 2004, Emily worked alongside NDI’s founder, Jacques d’Amboise, to create the early childhood music and dance program Arts Encounter, which was instrumental to the development of NDI’s unique early childhood curriculum. Prior to joining NDI, Emily trained intensively and danced professionally with the Boston Ballet. She received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Columbia University and her Master’s in Education from Bank Street Graduate School.

    Centering Freedom Through Play: Free to Develop, Free to Learn, Free to Teach
    In her book, Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks said, “I celebrate teaching that enables transgressions – a movement against and beyond boundaries. It is that movement which makes education the practice of freedom.” What does education as the practice of freedom look like for young children? PLAY. By centering play in our pedagogy, relationships, observations, and assessments, we create movement against the boundaries that constrain children’s natural development, desire to learn, and our ability to teach. In this keynote, I share my work on play as freedom for children and families and play as liberation for teachers and society. 

    Denisha Jones is the executive director of Defending the Early Years. She is a former kindergarten teacher and preschool director who spent the past 19 years in teacher education.  Denisha is an education justice advocate and activist working with various grassroots organizations to dismantle the neoliberal assault on public education. She is a part-time faculty member in the Art of Teaching program at Sarah Lawrence College and the School of Education at Howard University. Since 2017, she served on the steering committee for the national Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. Her first co-edited book, Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice, was published in December 2020 by Haymarket Books. Jones has a BA in early childhood education from the University of the District of Columbia,  a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University, and a Juris Doctor from the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia.

    Inventing Stories & Connecting with Young Children: An Author’s Perspective
    Matt will talk about the inspiration for his stories and characters, how small moments can often grow into big ideas, and his fascination with the real world. He also talks about how unique and worthy all of our stories are and how to harness them. Experience how reading a story with children opens the door for a unique connection between the reader and the child.

    Matt de la Peña is the #1 New York Times bestselling, Newbery Medal-winning author of seven young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoy and We Were Here) and seven picture books (including Patchwork and Last Stop on Market Street). In 2016 he was awarded the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. De la Peña was awarded an honorary doctorate from University of the Pacific in 2019.

  • Morning Workshops

    Morning Workshop Descriptions

    Workshops will be offered for teachers and administrators. Titles and presenters are listed below. Participants will select one morning and one afternoon workshop after completing registration. Keynotes and workshops will be recorded and made available to everyone registered for the conference.

    Show and Tell Becomes a Classroom Museum
    Re-imagine show and tell as a Classroom Collection Museum that engages children’s curiosity and their sense of wonder. As children learn to explore the different collected items carefully and with purpose, they have ongoing opportunities to ask and answer questions, categorize and document their objects, while learning about their classmates’ cultures and the world around them.

    Grace Attanasio Shickler taught in The Anderson Program and was a founding K-1-2 teacher of the Muscota New School, both in New York City. Shickler recently retired as the Early Years Principal at High Meadows School in Roswell, GA, a progressive, independent preschool through 8th grade school serving 400 children on 40 acres. She is currently developing a Peace Garden preschool program for homeschoolers and young children. Shickler received a BA in Communications from Fordham University and an MA in Early Childhood from City College of New York.

    Strengthening Hearts, Minds & Imagination Through Live Storytelling
    Once upon a time and long ago, children spent many hours listening to stories told by their parents, teachers, and elders. Listening to a story is dynamic and participatory and enhances children’s capacity to focus, think, and reflect as they use their imagination to visualize what they are hearing. In this workshop, you will learn step-by-step activities to prepare a story for the telling. Re-engage with this lost art and learn how to make stories come alive for your kindergarteners while helping children create and tell their own stories.

    Laura Simms has been telling stories and training teachers for over 40 years. She is an award-winning storyteller, writer, arts educator, recording artist, mediator, and humanitarian. Presently she is the artistic director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center in New York City and serves on the United Nations’ NGO Council for Global Education. In 1999, Laura won the Sesame Street Sunny Days Award for her work with children worldwide. Previously, she appeared at the Nobel Peace Festival in Oslo and worked with UN Women, Mercy Corps, The Red Cross, Common Ground, and the Arthur Mauro Peace and Justice Center in Manitoba, Canada. Laura is completing a book titled Wild Rose: Summoning the Restoration of the World (publication date TBA).

    The Productive and Enjoyable Reading of Math Storybooks with Kindergarteners
    Why read math storybooks to kindergarteners? This workshop begins with a discussion of two types of math storybooks: those with explicit (Anno’s Counting Book) or implicit (The Three Bears) math content and concepts. Like all books, both are valuable to read with children as they contribute to their literacy, math education, and delight, and to the amelioration of some adult readers’ math discomfort. The workshop will draw upon videos of adult/child reading interactions to discuss guidelines for choosing and reading math storybooks.

    Herbert P. Ginsburg is the Jacob H. Schiff Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has conducted basic research on the development of mathematical thinking, with particular attention to children from low-income communities, diverse cultures, and ethnic groups. He has drawn on cognitive developmental psychology (and imagination) to develop a variety of materials for young children, including storybooks, both traditional and digital. He is currently creating materials to help teachers and parents gain insight into young children’s mathematical thinking and learning. Dr. Ginsburg holds a BA from Harvard University and an MS and PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

    Trees, Squirrels & Playgrounds: A Year of Inquiry
    This workshop is a presentation of a year-long study in a kindergarten classroom. The inquiry started in the fall with a study of trees and squirrels and concluded in June as the entire class created a working wooden playground for the squirrels. The class then advocated for a playground for themselves as well. We will focus on the strengths and values of in-depth studies as well as the challenges that teachers often face while creating inquiry/emergent curricula in their kindergarten classrooms.

    Lauren Monaco has been an early childhood educator for over 22 years, including 5 years in the kindergarten classroom. She currently teaches kindergarten at PS 89 in New York City. Monaco has been a university instructor at Kent State University as well as a teaching artist and author. She has presented on educational topics at NAEYC conferences (2001-05) and at NAREA (North American Reggio Emilia Alliance) conferences across the country (2003-14). Lauren is a contributing author to In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia (Teachers College Press, 2005). Her work has been featured in Kid Made Modern Blog, (Todd Oldham, 2013) and in Designs for Living and Learning, (Redleaf Press, 2003). She holds an MAT in Early Childhood Education (Birth-2) from Kent State University.

    Adding Mindfulness to Your Classroom: Why & How?
    As kindergarteners learn to self-regulate, they rely on the adults around them to support these developing skills. The goal of this workshop is to provide teachers with an understanding of mindfulness and self-regulation. We will explore specific mindfulness strategies, tools and techniques, books, games, and other activities that promote self-regulatory behaviors for your kindergarten class.

    Robin Thomas is a licensed social worker and currently works with the New York City Department of Education, providing families with supportive services for children and families. She is an adjunct faculty member at Bank Street Graduate School, where she teaches Developmental Variations. Thomas received her Master’s in Social Work from the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work and her Master’s in Infant and Family Development and Early Intervention from Bank Street Graduate School.

    “Wanna Play?” Turning Favorite Books into Class Plays
    Open the hearts, minds, and imaginations of your kindergarten children as they create age-appropriate dramatic presentations using stories they know and love. Throughout this project, children’s language, literacy, listening, and speaking skills are enhanced as they cooperate and work together as a community, experiencing the satisfaction and joy of creating and performing their play together. Guided by their teachers, kindergarteners learn about acting, costumes, music, and designing simple sets and playbills. School classrooms, libraries or cafeterias may become a small theater. This workshop will support teachers who may feel drama is out of their comfort zones as well as those who love it.

    Ariane Durham has been teaching kindergarten and pre-K for 11 years at the New Hope Academy in Franklin, Tennessee. Before joining the field of education, she was a professional actress in New York City for 10 years. Durham has developed a theater-based curriculum in her classroom and school community that incorporates the experience of theater into the curriculum. She has a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from the New School in New York City and an MSEd in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street Graduate School. She is currently pursuing her EdD in Instructional Leadership from Union University.

    Kindergarten Artists at Work: Creating a Rich Interdisciplinary Curriculum Through Art
    In this workshop, we will explore how children’s artwork can be integrated with math, science, literacy, and social studies curricula while supporting the development of their fine motor skills and exposing them to a broad range of materials including oil pastels, tempera paints, watercolors, collage, boxes, found objects, and more. Children experience the many different ways that their artwork is important: as a vehicle for self-expression, as “art for arts sake,” and as a way to deepen their understanding about how the world works. Teachers partner with families to provide recyclable materials that are used for the creation of art projects in their classrooms.

    Paulo Cesar Arango, originally from Colombia, has been a teacher at Manhattan Country School, a progressive private school in New York City, for 13 years. He is currently a classroom teacher with the 4- and -5 year olds and has been a teacher with first, second, and third graders and the after school program. Arango received his BA in Modern Languages and Pedagogy from Narino University in Colombia and a MSEd from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY.

    Winnie Chan began her teaching career at the All Souls School, a Reggio-inspired program in New York City where she taught pre-K for six years. She is presently teaching kindergarten at Manhattan Country School. Chan received her BA in Public Health and Community Health Education from Stony Brook University and her MA in Early Childhood and Childhood Education from Bank Street Graduate School.

  • Afternoon Workshops

    Afternoon Workshop Descriptions

    Workshops will be offered for teachers and administrators. Titles and presenters are listed below. Participants will select one morning and one afternoon workshop after completing registration. Keynotes and workshops will be recorded and made available to everyone registered for the conference.

    Observing Children’s  Self-Portraits with Descriptive Review
    In this workshop, participants will look closely at a series of self-portraits created monthly by one kindergarten student. They will examine the portraits through the lens of Descriptive Inquiry, a well-established mode of teaching and learning guided by a commitment to attending with care to the individual and their work. Participants will see the value and power of collecting on-going self-portraits as they learn how to assess them in order to deepen their understanding of the child.

    Cara Furman is currently an associate professor in literacy education at the University of Maine in Farmington. Furman’s publications include: “This Child: Descriptive Review in Support of Parental Ethics” (Ethics in Education, 2021), “Seeing the Rock: Expanding One’s Vision in Community with Preschool Knowers” (Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 2021), Descriptive Inquiry in Teacher Practice: Cultivating Practical Wisdom to Create Democratic Schools” (Teachers College Press, 2021), and “Conversations about Death Provoked by Literature” (Bank Street Occasional Paper Series, 2020).  Dr. Furman holds a PhD in Philosophy in Education from Columbia University.

    Hillary Post is a kindergarten teacher in Los Angeles, California. She has been teaching for 11 years, including six years as a kindergarten teacher. She has been a long-term participant at the Summer Institute on Descriptive Inquiry and has facilitated descriptive inquiry work for her colleagues. She published “Partnering with Families: Connections and Disconnections When Linking Theory to Practice” (University of Chicago Press, 2020). In 2022, Post presented at the Philosophy of Education Society Pre-Conference titled “Learning Together to Stay with Trouble: Sustaining Educators Across Time and Space.” She holds a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

    Empowering Young Children to Create Math “Story Problems”
    By empowering children to be creators and co-constructors of math problems, they can think of themselves as mathematicians! Math makes sense when it is contextual and tied to everyday experiences. Even the youngest children add, multiply, divide, and subtract at the park, the grocery store, and while sharing breakfast with siblings and snacks with friends. In this workshop, we will explore how to scaffold children’s learning as they create their own math “story problems” based on their real-life experiences.  Participants will look at math in a new way and leave with concrete ideas that are easy to implement in the classroom.

    Jane Parkes is an early childhood educator with over 10 years of experience teaching pre-K and kindergarten. She currently works as a demonstration teacher at UCLA Lab School, a PK-6 school affiliated with UCLA’s Graduate School of Education. In her current role, she is engaged in teacher action research on pedagogical documentation and facilitates professional development in the area of inquiry-based teaching and learning. Parkes presented at University of Texas El Paso’s School of Education in 2019 as well as at the National Conference for Cognitively Guided Instruction in 2022. She holds a BA in Literature from Yale University and an MSEd in Education from Bank Street Graduate School.

    Kelly Peters teaches kindergarten at the UCLA Lab School. She has presented at several conferences nationally and internationally including “Child Rights in Education” at the Progressive Educator Network Conference in 2019 and “Navigating Equitable Group Work” at the National Cognitively Guided Instruction Conference in 2019. Peters has taught young children in schools around Los Angeles for the past 10 years. She has an MEd from UC San Diego and an MA in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary.

    Story Seeds: Growing an Anti-Racist Classroom Library
    Anti-racist books are a unique and important addition to the literature of a kindergarten classroom library. We will look at books together with a school librarian and a classroom teacher and learn how to differentiate diverse, affirming, and anti-racist books. This workshop will deepen kindergarten teachers’ awareness of the types of books they choose for their own classroom libraries and help them curate resources to assist them in their journey.

    Kharissa Kenner is the children’s librarian at Bank Street School for Children. She is a member of the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee, and is co-chair of the Anti-Racist Resources Committee at Bank Street College, which is dedicated to highlighting new books that combat stereotypes and affirm BIPOC children from nursery through 8th grade. Kenner is also a reviewer for School Library Journal and Shelf Awareness. She has a Master’s in Library Science from Queens College (MLS) and a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College.

    Susie Rios is a kindergarten teacher with 20 years of teaching experience in elementary education. She has presented at the NYSAIS Diversity Conference (2022) and the NYSAIS Brain Conference (2018). Rios co-founded and co-chairs the Anti-Racist Book Group at Bank Street College. She is dedicated to building racial understanding in classrooms through the use of picture books, discussion, and experiential learning. She has an MA in Curriculum Development from SUNY Empire State. Dr. Rios also has an MA in Educational Psychology and a PhD in Education with a focus on the Neuroscience of Learning, both from CUNY Graduate Center. 

    Choice Time: Promoting Inquiry-Based Play
    Children are back in school, but they carry with them the emotional baggage of two stressful and isolated years. Through play, children can reconnect socially and emotionally. While we are concerned about the issue of “catching up” academically, we need to be most concerned with children’s social and emotional health. The play that takes place during Choice Time provides an important path toward reaching this goal. We will explore and discuss play inside and outside the classroom using  examples of classroom centers and outdoor play.

    Renée Dinnerstein has many years of experience as an early childhood educator, teaching in both Italy and the United States. She is currently an independent early childhood consultant, presenting workshops and keynote addresses nationally and in Hong Kong. Dinnerstein blogs about kindergarten at Investigating Choice Time: Inquiry, Exploration and Play. Previously, she was a member of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Early Childhood Reading think tank, was an early childhood staff developer for the New York City Department of Education, and received the Bank Street Early Childhood Teacher Award in 2000. She co-authored “Saim’s Wheelchair: Making a Transportation Study Meaningful” in Teaching Kindergarten: Learner-Centered Classrooms for the 21st Century (Teachers College Press, 2015) and “Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play, PreK-2” (Heinemann, 2016). Dinnerstein received both her BA in Sociology and an MA in Early Childhood from Brooklyn College, New York City.

    Bringing Kindergarten Home: An Authentic Family Study
    This workshop takes you through an integrated Family Study that has been designed to support both children and parents as they make the transition from home to school. The study has evolved into an authentic way for children to learn about each other and their families.  You will learn how we get families involved and plan and implement the many different elements of the family study.  This is an integrated study where many components of the kindergarten curriculum are addressed.

    Bryan Andes has been a kindergarten/first grade teacher at Midtown West in New York City for 23 years, during which he created both The Kindergarten Family Study and The First Grade Theatre Study. In 2006, he helped create the social studies K/1 curriculum for The Community Roots Charter School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Andes has presented his work at The 97th Annual NCTE Conference (2022, Anaheim, California), the 2015 National Conference on Geography Education in Washington, DC, and the 2020 Annual Language Series titled “Language and the Brain: How We Learn Best” at Bank Street College. In 2020, he was a featured speaker at the K-12 Arts Integration & STEAM Online Conference. His article, “Curtain-Up: Place-based Teaching and Learning in the New York City Theater District” was published in Bank Street College’s Occasional Paper Series #33 (May, 2015). In 2022, he was awarded a City Council Citation for his 20+ years of service to the Midtown West school and community. Andes received his BS in Early Childhood Education from New York University, graduating with honors, and his MS in Reading and Literacy Education from Bank Street Graduate School. 

    Rowena Hurst  teaches kindergarten and first grade at Midtown West, a progressive public school in New York City where children remain with the same teacher for two years. She works closely with her colleague Bryan Andes, implementing the Family Study and Theater Study at Midtown West. Hurst received her BA in Early Childhood/Childhood Education from SUNY Cortland and her MA in Early Childhood Education from SUNY Albany.

    Storytelling/Story Acting: Children’s Original Stories Come Alive
    Presenters, inspired by the work of Vivian Gussin Paley, will share a year-long Storytelling/Story Acting project in a Brooklyn public school kindergarten. Teachers will learn how to integrate Storytelling/Story Acting  into their classroom curriculum to support children’s literacy, listening skills, social emotional growth, creativity, and community building. In Storytelling/Story Acting, all children, including children with special needs and multilingual learners, participate, and all children succeed.

    Kristin B. Eno is an early childhood arts educator specializing in using video as a tool to document young children’s play and process. She is currently a research fellow at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University.  Eno is a coach with Teaching Beyond the Square in New York and Connecticut. She taught at Beginnings Nursery School and other public and private schools in New York City. Eno’s work is featured in Susan Ochshorn’s book, Squandering America’s Future: Why ECE Policy Matters for Equality, Our Economy, and Our Children (2015). She has presented at the Ithaca Play Symposium (2015) and the Fred Forward Symposium, Fred Rogers Center (2010) among many others. Eno holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MEd in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

    Shariffa Martinez has been an early childhood educator for over two decades. She was a teacher for New York City public schools and community-based organizations and currently coaches teachers and leaders of Brooklyn’s District 19 as an instructional coordinator for the Division of Early Childhood. She presented at NAEYC (2022) and Little Chairs Big Differences (2014). Shariffa holds a BA from the State University of New York at New Paltz, an MEd in Literacy Education from Alfred University, and an Advanced Certification in Educational Administration from the College of St. Rose.

    Persistence, Gratitude, Acceptance, and More: Transforming Classroom Culture through Intentional Words
    Using “intentions”—special words of kindness and empathy such as generosity, persistence, gratitude—presenters will share an approach to create a values-based community that shapes the classroom culture throughout the school year. These words create the context for children to take action in order to make the world of their classroom, home and extended community a kinder and fairer place. Facilitators will show how these intentional words and values are shared with families and the larger school community.

    Annabelle Baylin taught pre-K through first grade at schools in New York for 10 years. She is presently an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College of Early Childhood Literacy and an educational consultant. She has presented at the Everyone Reading Conference in 2020 and at the PaTTAN Conference in 2021. In 2014 and 2015, she presented at the Teaching Innovation Conference on Mindfulness in Early Childhood. In 2023, she presented with Karen Levenberg on Play at Congregation Beth Elohim ECC in Brooklyn, NY. Baylin holds a BA in Mindfulness in Education from New York University and an MSEd in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Brooklyn College.

    Karen Levenberg is an early childhood education consultant. She was a classroom teacher for 17 years and taught at the Blue School in New York City for ten years. Prior to teaching, she worked with the Early Literacy Even Start programs in New York City public schools. She co-presented with Annabelle Baylin at the Blue School in 2018; at the Play Bozeman, Bozeman MT in 2022; and at Congregation Beth Elohim ECC in Brooklyn, NY in 2023. Levenberg holds a BA in Studio Art/Art History from Oberlin College, an MSEd in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College, and an MPH in Public Health from Hunter College. 

    Organizing Beyond the Classroom: Kindergarteners as Agents of Change
    Kindergarteners are powerful, active, and passionate members of their communities. Inside our classrooms we facilitate dynamic learning and meaningful action, but what happens when we push beyond the borders of traditional schooling? In this workshop, we will share our case study of two teachers organizing with the Changemakers Collective, an independent group of young children and their families coming together to learn and take action for social justice. Join us to engage with ideas for developmentally appropriate discussions and kid-friendly action projects that extend the impact of our kindergarteners into the broader community.

    Elise “Lee” Sommers has been a co-teacher at the Brooklyn Sandbox Early Learning Center for over five years. Sommers is the Education Director at Queer Kid Stuff and organized and presented at the Queer Teachers Rock Conference in 2022. They are a founding member of the Changemakers Collective, an action-based group of children and families in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Sommers holds a BA in American Studies from Tufts University.

    Carly Zurcher has been co-teaching in a pre-K and kindergarten classroom for six years at the Brooklyn Sandbox Early Learning Center. She is a founding member of the Changemakers Collective, an action-based group of children and families in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Zurcher holds a BA in Psychology from Occidental College and a Master’s in Early Childhood General Education from Bank Street Graduate School. 

  • Lunch and Learn

    Make-Believe Gun Play in a World of Gun Violence 

    Gun violence is a uniquely American phenomenon; one that impacts children, families, teachers, and school communities throughout the nation. We will explore the context surrounding gun violence in the US, and examine the complex relationship between gun violence and children’s play. How do Kindergarteners process the reality of gun violence and integrate it into their construct of the everyday world? As teachers, how do we support them during this extraordinarily challenging time?

    Nicole Limperopulos is a faculty member in the Department of Leadership at Bank Street, where she teaches courses in transformational change, qualitative research, and racial literacy. Prior to joining the faculty at Bank Street, Nicole served as the Associate Director of the Principals Academy at Teachers College, Columbia University. Limperopulos began her career in the New York City Department of Education where she served as a high school history teacher in Harlem and the South Bronx. Most recently, she authored Guns, bullets & caskets in the Boogie Down: Boys of color and the silent epidemic of chronic violence exposure in urban communities (in press) and presented Dying to Fit In: Black and Latino Boys’ Experiences with Gun Violence and Mass Consumption and School Targets: A Historical Perspective of Gun Violence in Education in America at AERA in 2021. Limperopulos holds an MA in History from CUNY; an EdM in Education Leadership from Columbia University, and an EdD in sociology and urban education from Columbia University.

    This optional workshop will take place during the lunch break. There will be a 15-20 minute presentation and 10 minute Q&A.

From the 2022 Conference

  • 98%
    Of participants reported gaining new skills and strategies to implement immediately
  • 96%
    Of participants reported wanting to attend the conference again
  • 98%
    Of participants plan to recommend the conference to a colleague