• Registration Information

    Registration Information

    2024 Teaching Kindergarten Conference: Where Did the Garden Go?
    Creating a Classroom with Purpose, Connection, Compassion and Joy

    Date and Time:
    Friday, March 8, 2024 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM ET
    Saturday, March 9, 2024 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM ET

    March 8 and 9: Virtual (via Whova). Attend live sessions or access the recordings after!

    Register Now

    2024 Conference Fees:


    Additional Information:

  • Conference Schedule

    Conference Schedule

    Friday, March 8, 2024

    Time (Eastern) Activity (Via Zoom)
    5:30 PM – 5:40 PM Welcome Remarks
    5:40 PM – 6:30 PM Keynote:
    Wishes for a Hopeful Tomorrow: Walking With 5-Year-Olds in the World of Today
    Lesley Koplow, MS, LCSW is the Founding Director Emeritus of the Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice at Bank Street College.
    6:30 PM – 6:45 PM Break
    6:45 PM – 8:00 PM Arts Gathering:
    The Art of Gathering: Explorations with Found Objects
    Maria Elena Richa is the Director of Diversity and Equity for the School for Children at Bank Street College. Previously she taught Art in the School for Children.

    Saturday, March 9, 2024

    Time (Eastern) Activity (via Zoom)
    10:30 AM – 10:45 AM Welcome Remarks
    Conference Honoree: Tom Roderick
    10:45 AM – 11:45 AM Keynote:
    Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play
    Mitchel Resnick is Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, where he directs the Lifelong Kindergarten Research Group.
    11:45 AM – 12:00 PM Break
    12:00 PM – 1:15 PM Workshops Session A
    1:15 PM– 2:00 PM Lunch Break
    1:30 PM– 2:00 PM
    2:00 PM – 2:45 PM Author’s Corner:
    Jewels & Tools – How Books Shine for the Youngest Hearts and Minds!
    Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney are the New York Times bestselling creators of numerous books for children and young adults. Between them, they have published more than 70 children’s books.
    2:45 PM – 3:00 PM Break
    3:00 PM – 4:15 PM Workshops Session B

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

  • Keynote Presentations

    Keynote Presentations

    Friday Keynote

    Wishes for a Hopeful Tomorrow: Walking With 5 Year Olds in the World of Today
    Kindergarten teachers spend their days with 5 year olds who have questions about the world around them. How can teachers help their children make sense of the endless stream of  information and imagery that  bombards them when they leave the building? How can the kindergarten year help children feel confident, safe  and  hopeful in today’s world?

    Lesley Koplow, M.S., L.C.S.W, is the Founding Director Emeritus of the Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice at Bank Street College, and the creator of the Schools That Heal Network. Ms. Koplow is the author of several books on child mental health in schools, including; Unsmiling Faces: How Preschool can Heal (Teachers College Press, 2007) and Politics Aside: Our Children and Their Teachers in Score-Driven Times (Outskirts Press, 2014). Her most recent book for educators, Emotionally Responsive Practice: A Path for Schools That Heal (Teachers College Press), was published in 2021. She is currently writing, illustrating and publishing books for children, including Stories for Children in the Time of Covid (Lilah in the Land of the Littles, Jasmine’s Big Idea, and Wilson’s Wishes, (independently published, 2020, 2021, and 2022) and Understanding Feelings in Community (Popcorn Comes To School: The Story of a Kitten in Kindergarten, Teddy Bear Circle Publications, 2022; Popcorn’s Lost and Found, 2022; and Ellie the Deli Cat Finds a Friend, 2023). Ms. Koplow was the winner of the 2013 New York Zero-To-Three Emily Fenichel Award for Educational Leadership, and the Thomases Award for Leadership from Bank Street College in 2018, and the Most Distinguished Alumni Award from Bank Street College in 2023.

    Arts Gathering

    The Art of Gathering: Explorations with Found Objects
    Join Maria Richa as she shares with us the joy of making art and exploring with found objects.  While children gather, sort, collect, and use materials they delve into a world of imagination and great adventures with many possibilities. Children do this naturally and as adults in their community we rediscover and learn from the children the beauty of gathering materials, arranging and making art. Join Maria in rediscovering this process to better understand children and create classroom environments that become collaborative, experimental, joyful creative spaces.

    Maria Elena Richa taught Art in many of the Middle and Upper School grades, as well as most Integrated Art periods in the Middle School for over 20 years. She has been an active member of the community for the past 23 years, currently serving as the Director of Diversity and Equity for the School for Children. Maria has also worked on curriculum development teams, organized faculty orientations, and coordinated displays and exhibits throughout the institution. For over 17 years, Maria has dedicated time to share her experiences as an adjunct faculty member in the Bank Street College, teaching the course “Art for the Classroom Teacher,” and as a curriculum developer and educator for “El Primer Contacto con el Arte” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maria has written and published several articles including writing curricula for Bank Street’s sister school in Dubai, United Arab Emirates–The Clarion School–and is developing a website to share the Integrated Art curriculum in the Middle School. Maria continues to work in her own studio, focusing on original collages, quilts making, sculptures and prints. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) from the Columbus College of Art and Design and a Master’s degree in Art Education (MA/EdM) from Teachers College, Columbia University.

    Saturday Keynote

    Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play.
    I participated in a conference where people debated the greatest inventions of the previous 1000 years.  Some argued for the printing press, others the steam engine, the light bulb, or the computer.  My nomination for the greatest invention of the previous 1000 years? Kindergarten! Today’s kindergartens, however, are becoming more like the rest of school. I will argue for exactly the reverse: the rest of school (in fact, the rest of life) should be more like kindergarten. I will explain why kindergarten-style learning is ideally suited to the needs of today’s society.

    Mitchel Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, develops innovative technologies and cultivates caring communities to engage young people from diverse backgrounds in creative learning experiences. His Lifelong Kindergarten research group developed the Scratch programming language and online community, the world’s most popular coding platform for kids. The group also co-founded the Computer Clubhouse global network of more than 100 after-school learning centers, where youth from marginalized communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies. Resnick earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton, and a Masters and PhD degrees in computer science from MIT. He was awarded the McGraw Prize in Education (2011) and the LEGO Prize (2021). He is author of the book Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play.

    Author’s Corner

    Jewels & Tools – How Books Shine for the Youngest Hearts and Minds!
    In this engaging and inspiring program, Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, the New York Times bestselling and award-winning husband-and-wife team, present an inspiring look at how storytelling and books for the youngest readers foster an early love of literacy and chart the path for every child’s school success and what it takes to becoming life-long readers.

    Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney are the New York Times bestselling creators of numerous books for children and young adults. They are a remarkable couple who have made outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature, both as individuals and as an author/artist team. Between them, they have published more than 70 children’s books, a rich treasury of words and images reflecting a wide range of interests for children – experiences that are both specific and universal. The couple has been named among the “25 Most Influential People in Our Children’s Lives” by Children’s Health magazine. They’ve received the highest awards and accolades in children’s literature, including Caldecott Honors, Coretta Scott King Book awards, NAACP Image Award nominations, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. To learn more, please visit andreadavispinkney.net and brianpinkney.net.

  • Session A

    Workshop Descriptions: Session A

    Workshops and presenters are listed below. Participants will select one morning and one afternoon workshop through the Whova App (more information about Whova) approximately three weeks prior to the conference. Keynotes and workshops will be recorded and made available to everyone registered for the conference.

    2024 workshops

    Story Seeds: Using picture books to support identity discussions
    A read aloud book can open up new worlds for children. They learn new words, discover new concepts and experiences, and meet new people. They can also build self worth and find joy and pride within themselves. Reading allows children to take a few steps in the shoes of others, opening windows to the possibilities of other worlds. This presentation will show educators how to choose the best books to support children as they build their own identities and shape attitudes and behaviors towards people who differ from them.

    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 and is an anti-racist children’s literature advocate dedicated to teaching educators and families about books that combat stereotypes and affirm children. Kharissa has presented at the Kindergarten Conference (2022, 2023) and NYSAIS Diversity Symposium (2022, 2023). She is also a reviewer for Shelf Awareness. Kharissa 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.

    Beyond Pretend Play! Integrating Drama into Your Classroom
    Building on the benefits of pretend play, we will explore drama-based learning activities which can be easily applied to different subject areas. Using the Applied Theatre Approach, you will feel confident using these activities in your Kindergarten classroom. Open your classroom doors to drama!

    Marília Lauria is an Applied Theatre Practitioner with 20+ years consulting in elementary schools and applying drama as an educational medium. She has worked in schools and non-profit organizations in Brazil, the UK, the USA, and recently in Portugal. Marília holds an MSEd in Studies in Education from Bank Street College and a MA in Applied Theatre: Theatre in Educational, Community & Social Contexts from the University of London. Her BA, also from the University of London, is in Drama & Theatre Arts.

    Children Have So Much to Say: Encouraging Classroom Conversations
    Explore how to integrate language, writing and play within the confines of a scripted curriculum. Teachers learn how to encourage kindergartners to articulate their ideas and feelings through their own words, and by narrating and/or drawing stories, and through their play. Topics for conversation can stem from their curriculum, from children’s everyday experiences, and from the world around them.

    Fanny Roman has taught Pre-K and Kindergarten, working with English Language Learners and their families. She currently teaches at PS244Q (Queens, NY), The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES), where administrators, teachers, and staff strive to meet children’s academic, physical, and social needs with the belief that educating the whole child allows for learning at optimal levels. Roman received her BA in Early Childhood Education and Sociology and her MS in Children’s Literature with a Bilingual Extension both from Queens College, CUNY.

    Karen Hu is the K/1 STEM teacher at The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES) in Queens, NY. She was previously a kindergarten teacher at TALES, and has continued her work there leading initiatives in the school’s Book of the Month Club and the Racial Equity Committee to foster inclusivity and understanding within the school community. Hu received her BA in English and Psychology from Queens College and her MA in Early Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

    Taking Block Play to the Next Level
    Join Anne Montero (@theblocklady) as she shares her Kindergarteners’ approach to building BIG with blocks. In this workshop, you will learn how and why Anne organizes her students into collaborative building teams and have the opportunity to connect with other block loving Kindergarten teachers. We will discuss scheduling, classroom layout, materials, and the rationale for investing your time and energy into building big.

    Anne Montero has been a Kindergarten teacher for 13 years and teaches Kindergarten at Packer Collegiate in Brooklyn, NY. As a lifelong learner, Anne is continuously inspired by her colleagues, her students and their families. Anne is a Reggio Emilia inspired educator and an avid block building enthusiast. Follow Anne @theblocklady on Instagram to see her students’ incredible block building projects. She holds a master’s degree in general and special education from Bank Street College of Education.

    Confronting Racial Bias in Your Classroom
    This workshop empowers teachers as they engage children in learning that affirms their identities and fosters their appreciation for who they (and others) are. Teachers will learn about a set of evidence-based anti-bias strategies (e.g., individuation, perspective taking, etc.) that can be employed in any context regardless of anti-“divisive” concepts legislation. The presenters will highlight their own authentic cases which detail racial biases observed in the classroom, and how they were compassionately interrupted to forge meaningful, joyful, and lasting relationships among peers.

    Joy Dangora Erickson (Ph.D.) is an assistant professor of early childhood education at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. Learn more about Joy’s new book, research, and teaching at https://www.joydangoraerickson.com/

    Kyleigh P. Rousseau is a Kindergarten teacher in a public school in New Hampshire. She received both her B.S. in Family Studies and Child Development and her M.Ed in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of New Hampshire.

    Playful Explorers: Exploring Passion Projects in Kindergarten
    Explore the impact of interest-based learning in kindergarten education. We’ll guide you on strategies to integrate students’ unique passion projects into the curriculum for immersive, in-depth exploration. With real-life examples, we’ll demonstrate how passion projects foster a love for learning and unlock each student’s potential. This approach enhances engagement and deepens understanding of core subjects and essential skills. Learn how to create a curiosity-driven environment that empowers students to own their learning journey. Join us to unlock the opportunities of passion-based education.

    Ellen Rhomberg has dedicated the past decade to educating young minds in the field of early childhood education. Her experience spans children ages 2 to 6 years old and includes teaching in both public and private schools, as well as single-sex and coeducational environments. Ellen holds a bachelor’s degree in human development and learning, along with a PreK-3rd teaching license, obtained from the University of Memphis. She furthered her education at the University of Memphis by earning a master’s degree in instruction and curriculum leadership, specializing in early childhood education.

    Tori Charbonneau is a passionate kindergarten teacher with six years of experience. A proud 2018 graduate of Heidelberg University (Tiffin, OH), she holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in psychology. Her journey as an educator began with a childhood dream; she knew she wanted to be a teacher since her own kindergarten days, and that calling has only grown stronger over the years. She is thankful to live this dream each day in her classroom at The Wellington School, Columbus, OH.

    Jennifer Landon has been teaching for 26 years and has taught preschool through 5th grade. She was an administrator at an early childhood center for 8 years. Her bachelor’s degree is in Early Childhood Education and Child Psychology from University of Mary Washington. She obtained her master’s is Special Education and Integrated Curriculum from American College of Education.

    “You Took My Lego!” A Community Problem-Solving Approach
    Conflict among children is an opportunity. We’ll look at a protocol where each party to a disagreement has power in its resolution. First, we’ll consider the underpinnings of true power. Then, we’ll look at how the broader classroom community can help out.

    John Allgood has taught Kindergarten for 25 years in Brooklyn, NY. He was a founding teacher at Arts & Letters where he was the primary Kindergarten curriculum designer. He has presented workshops on Outside Classroom – Routines for Open-Ended Nature Learning; Snack Math – Integrating Concepts of Takeaway into Kindergarten Life; Bridge-Building in the Classroom among others. He currently provides staff support at the Centro de Educación Creativa, Monteverde, Costa Rica. Allgood received a BA from the University of North Carolina and an MSEd in Elementary/Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College.

    Kindergarten Roots: Revisiting Froebel
    Freidrich Froebel was the founder of Kindergarten in 1837 in Blankenburg Germany. His words are often quoted, “Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” This workshop will give participants a deeper understanding of Froebel’s work and why his pedagogical principles are still foundational for teaching kindergarten in today’s complex world.

    Andrea Buffara has worked as a special needs teacher, academic services coordinator, school principal, and director. In her various roles, she implemented, monitored, evaluated, and designed projects and programs. Buffara co-founded three schools: Escola Americana de Vitória, Espirito Santo, Brazil (2018), Kruger School Primaria in Quito, Ecuador (2022), and Rio Learning Studio a Froebelian-inspired preschool that will open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in February 2024. She holds a BA in political science from Barnard College, an MS in Development Studies from London School of Economics, and an ED.M from Teacher’s College/Columbia University.

  • Session B

    Workshop Descriptions: Session B

    Workshops and presenters are listed below. Participants will select one morning and one afternoon workshop through the Whova App (more information about Whova) approximately three weeks prior to the conference. Keynotes and workshops will be recorded and made available to everyone registered for the conference.

    2024 workshops

    Becoming a Voice for the Littles: Influencing Schools, Districts, and State Policy
    With her strong commitment to Progressive Education and play-based learning, Meg works with colleagues, school administrators, and district and state policy makers to impact educational change. In this workshop she will talk about the process and outcomes of this experience and invite participants to share current concerns and goals. Teachers will then create action plans to take back to their own school communities.

    Meg Walker is in her 20th year as a public school teacher. She is the Transitional Kindergarten teacher for Groton Public Schools in Groton, CT. She believes that building a strong foundation of academic and social skills in kindergarten will lead to a lifelong passion for learning. She earned her MA in childhood education from NYU.

    Being a Kindergarten Teacher in the Age of College and Career Readiness
    A virtual “make and take”. After some initial discussion, participants will go into breakout rooms to look at their own schedules to see where art, music, play, etc. can be incorporated into existing, mandated structures.

    Kim McLeveighn taught K-5 students in public and charter schools in the Bronx for 20 years. A special education teacher, Kim worked in ICT classrooms and as a Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) provider. She came to Bank Street in 2019 as an adjunct instructor, and in 2021 added supervised fieldwork advising to her duties. Currently she is the Director of Student Learning Support for the graduate school. McLeveighn got her MS Ed from Bank Street College.

    No Risk, No Reward: The Benefits of Risky Play
    We’ve all said it… ‘Be careful!’ or ‘That’s too dangerous’ when our students are playing. We will challenge that idea and explores the proven benefits of observing, promoting and guiding different types of risky play for kindergarteners. Together, we will dive into research and learn simple risk-taking activities to integrate into your classroom!

    Amelia Manes is currently a Kindergarten teacher and Anji Play liaison at Live Oak School in San Francisco, CA. She has taught in public and private schools, as well as teaching in Mexico. She is a Teach For America alumni (GNO ‘13) and holds a Masters Degree in Education: Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. She also TESOL/International Baccalaureate certificates.

    Integrity, Persistence, Acceptance, and More: Transforming Classroom Culture
    Presenters will share a framework that helps children develop values that become part of the classroom culture and evolve into who they are as citizens in the world. Through videos and anecdotes, we will describe how we incorporate ‘intentions’ – special words of kindness and empathy such as generosity, integrity, persistence, courage and acceptance – that can be visualized and physicalized, forming the foundation of our social/emotional framework. These words create the container for children to make their world a kinder and more compassionate place.

    Karen Levenberg is a Coach for Studio in a School and Teaching Beyond the Square. She was a classroom teacher for 17 years, teaching at the Blue School in NYC for 10 years. Prior to teaching, she helped initiate early literacy Even Start programs in NYC public schools. Karen holds an MSEd in early childhood education from Brooklyn College, an MPH in public health from Hunter College, and a BA in studio art/art history from Oberlin College.

    Annabelle Baylin is an adjunct professor of Early Childhood Literacy at Brooklyn College, CUNY, and has taught pre-K through first grade at schools in New York for 10 years. She enjoys bringing mindfulness into the daily routines of the classroom, facilitating an emergent curriculum, early literacy, and having conversations about social justice with children. Annabelle holds an MSEd in early childhood general and special education from Brooklyn College and a BA in mindfulness in education from New York University.

    Honoring Childrens’ Identities
    Discovering and honoring your children’s identities is essential for the social/emotional well-being of every child in your classroom. In this workshop teachers will learn meaningful strategies and tools to use with their children to create joy, connection and compassion as children feel recognized and appreciated for who they are.

    Daisy Salazar-Garza has 16 plus years of experience in education in both elementary schools in New York including the KIPP Infinity Elementary School and Los Angeles. She has been a principal of the Kipp Poder Public School for the past 8 years and enjoys developing and inspiring educators to be anti-racist practitioners. Salazar-Garza is a graduate of Bank Street’s Graduate School of Education with a Masters degree in Educational Leadership.

    Choice Time: Play, Purpose, and Possibility
    Presenters will support participants in the development of powerful, authentic, inquiry-based choice time experiences with a focus on child-directed play and purpose. Through interactive discussion, teachers will have the opportunity to focus on: how to plan for centers, design inter-disciplinary inquiry-based projects, implement predictable routines, and link curricular-standard documents within a child-centered model.

    Renée Dinnerstein (@RDinnerstein) has more than 50 years of experience as an early childhood educator, teaching and presenting in Italy, Hong Kong, China and in the United States. She is a past member of the Columbia University Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project, Early Childhood Reading ‘think tank’, and has worked as an Early Childhood Staff Developer in the New York City Department of Education, where she helped write the New York City Pre-Kindergarten Standards. Renée has consulted with teachers and in schools throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Hong and China. She is the author of Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play. Visit her online at investigatingchoicetime.com.

    Larry Leaven, former Founding Principal of the Dalton School in Hong Kong, has worked in education for 35 years. He earned a degree in elementary education and in music education from Houghton University, Houghton, NY and received his master’s degree in education and a certificate of advanced study in educational administration from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. Leavan served two years as the principal of the Beijing International Bilingual Academy in Beijing, China. In addition to his international work, Larry has served in various capacities in New York State, including: teacher, principal, adjunct lecturer, assistant superintendent and superintendent. He currently consults with schools in literacy, language and leadership.

    Collecting, Counting, and Learning about Numbers Together
    Use your classroom environment to support and strengthen children’s understanding of numbers. This workshop presents teachers with a roadmap to engage their kindergarteners in an ongoing community math activity as they learn what numbers represent. Teachers begin this project by inviting children to bring classroom materials to morning meeting: beginning with one object and increasing the number each day until reaching the number 15. Discussions about numbers, as well as addition and subtraction number sentences, are easily incorporated into this project.

    Eric Varela is a dedicated educator who has been teaching for over 10 years and has been working as a Dual Language Demonstration Teacher at the UCLA Lab School for 4 years. His passion to educate future active citizens and instill love for the Spanish language began as he taught in the private and public sector. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Music from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) and his Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Southern California (USC). He is enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge and teaching practices with other educators and the public.

    Kelly Peters teaches at the UCLA Lab School where she loves partnering with her students in building community. She has a Master of Education from University of California San Diego and a MA in Intercultural Studies and Children at Risk from Fuller Graduate School. Kelly has presented at several conferences nationally and internationally. She enjoys playing with her son, listening to podcasts, and exploring new cities.

    Into the Garden: Love, Joy, and Nature in the Kindergarten Classroom and Beyond
    In this time of environmental crisis and growing extremes of wealth and poverty, teaching for climate justice must be top priority for all preK-12 educators. In kindergarten, that means teaching children to love—to love exploration and discovery, to love themselves as creative people full of wonder and life, to love and care for plants and animals, and, by so doing, come to know that our well-being is intertwined with theirs. In this interactive workshop, we will share our ideas and strategies for making kindergarten a magical space where children build caring relationships with each other and with nature.

    Liat Olenick is a science and early childhood educator. She started as an environmental educator at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, before shifting to teach grades preK-4 in public schools. She is also an organizer with Climate Families NYC, a grassroots organization that organizes families and young children for climate justice. She has extensive experience facilitating learning for kids and adults in all settings– from outdoors, to the classroom and to zoom.

    Tom Roderick is a writer, educator and organizer based in New York City. After retiring in 2019 as founding executive director of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, a post he held for 36 years, Tom researched and wrote Teach for Climate Justice: A Vision for Transforming Education (Harvard Education Press 2023). He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a master’s in education from Bank Street College of Education.

From the 2023 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