2021 Fort Lewis Southwest Early Childhood Conference Part 1

The Southwest Early Childhood Conference was established in 2011 after six early childhood professionals from rural southwest Colorado joined efforts in eagerness to offer local high-quality professional development. Research of the lack of opportunities in the area was identified by a Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program Capstone project. The annual conference has a mission to encourage “relationships” by bringing together locals in the field and offering many relationship-based sessions that will benefit all early childhood educators.

Join us for the 10th annual Early Childhood Conference!


It’s All About Relationships

October 9th, 2021 (virtual) – 10th Annual

9:00AM – 1:30PM

Sponsored By:


9:00 – 10:30

Keynote Address

Special Guest & Keynote Speaker: Steve Spangler

BEST DAY EVER – The Science of Creating Amazing Experiences that Inspire Children to Wonder, Discover and Explore

Emmy award-winning television host, science communicator, and celebrity educator Steve Spangler is the science teacher you always wanted in school. Without warning, things would fizz, pop, and explode, making students chant “Best day ever!” During his high-energy presentation, Steve will teach you that the best day ever is more than just a feeling or emotion, it’s a powerful principle that helps people uncover strategies for connecting, experiencing, and engaging in your classroom. Learn how to engage at the highest levels to create unforgettable experiences that children remember for a lifetime.

Connect. Experience. Engage. That’s the formula for a Best Day Ever experience.

From the moment Steve Spangler steps onto the stage, you know that this presentation is going to be different. The energy is high, the content is strong and the audience-focused interaction is hands-on, engaging and extremely fun. Guaranteed ooohs & ahhhs, but watch out for the flying potatoes.


Steve Spangler is a best-selling author, STEM educator and business leader branded by TIME Magazine as one of their “most influential people of the year” because of his passion to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. With more than 1,500 television appearances and multiple Emmy awards to his credit, Steve is also a regular guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show where she dubbed him America’s Science Teacher. Steve’s catalog of videos featured on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and now TikTok have close to 1 billion views, and his books and online experiments are widely used by parents and educators to increase student engagement and inspire young scientists to learn more about STEM-based careers. https://stevespangler.com/halloween/

10:45 – 12:15

Breakout Sessions

Participants will choose from a variety of topics to attend for each of the sessions (except for Lunch & Learn).

Session A

Join us to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the early childhood classroom. Together we will explore and define terms related to DEI and examine our roles and talk about how we can support and care for all children and “get the mix to work together.”
I am Joanne Dalton, a Caucasian cisgender, woman, a 72 yr old mother, grandmother and now great-grandmother of multi- racial, multi-cultural (African American, Caucasian and Mexican) children. A 3rd generation Irish American and native of Chicago, married at 19 in 1968 in Chicago to a young African-American, 20 year old male who migrated from Friars Point Mississippi to Chicago in 1958, I have gained my knowledge and understanding of the topics of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion primarily from life experiences with my family as well as ongoing listening to and conversing with a wide array of , friends, colleagues, authors, facilitators and teachers who I have met along the way. I have immersed myself in presentations, speakers, books, articles, and papers of theorists, authors and practitioners, dedicated to learning more about how we all can better relate to one another with genuine and authentic respect, honor and dignity. I am a retired employee of Clayton (34 years) and faculty member of the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program established in collaboration with Clayton Early Learning, University of Colorado, Denver and the Buell Foundation since 2007. I have been a coach for numerous Early Childhood Initiatives primarily in Denver as well as all around the state of Colorado. Simultaneously I was a trainer and consultant for the High Scope Educational Research Foundation for 25 of those years travelling to 23 states, reservations, and territories of the United States. All the roles I have played have allowed me to be educated by teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, and most importantly the children from a plethora of cultures, languages, ages, races, religions, creeds and beliefs. I continue to be an optimist, holding strong with the belief that we all want to belong while maintaining our unique personhood as we continue to learn how to best coexist with one another!

DEI in the Early Childhood Classroom Handouts:

Session B

In this session, the presenter will reflect on lessons from COVID and their personal experience with burnout while also explaining the signs and symptoms of burnout, and how daily gratitude and focusing on relationships changed her teaching. This presentation will target in on the application of mindfulness and its connection to teacher-student relationships and how relationships are at the core of teaching. Attendees will receive an infusion of ideas to build new relationship routines into the classroom with young children and their families.
Dr. Amanda Rutter is an Assistant Professor that has been at UNC since 2016. She is also the current Program Coordinator of the ECE BA degrees at UNC. Dr. Rutter completed her doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from the University of Houston. She has also taught pre-service teachers oversees in China as a part of the UNC-HZU collaborative program. Dr. Rutter has presented at the American Education Research Association and Southern Early Childhood Education Association conferences. Currently she serves as the co-chair for both the Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children and the Colorado Early Childhood Education Partnership. Her current research interests are exploring the support for and recruitment of men within the field of early childhood education, as well as pre-service teacher preparation in the wake of societal changes.

Session C

Here's the secret: you already have what it takes to be a brain builder! Come find out how you already have what it takes, learn about the brain science, and enhance your brain building powers.
Raleigh Cato is a School Psychologist with the San Juan BOCES. She has her Education Specialist degree (Ed.S.) in Child, Family, and School Psychology from the University of Denver. She also has 30 additional graduate credits in Early Childhood Education. Raleigh is originally from Michigan, but she's proud to be a South West Colorado local.

Session D

This action-packed session focuses on teacher's actions with schedules and routines. Teacher's actions are the key to a predictable environment for students. Join us and learn strategies that you can use tomorrow! Increase the predictability of your program by reinforcing your schedules and routines.
Virginia Kile, MA, ECSE, is an Early Childhood Specialist with decades of experience working with children birth-5 and coaching and training early childhood professionals. She currently provides Pyramid Model Coaching and Training for Bright Futures Early Childhood Council. and other sites in Western Colorado. Her passion is supporting teachers as they teach social/emotional skills. She believes all students have the capacity to learn and use these skills.
Stacy Trickel, AA, is a lead preschool teacher at Olathe Elementary School. For the past 3 years, Stacy has been implementing the Pyramid Model to build the social emotional competency of the students in her classroom. Stacy uses predictable schedules and routines. Additionally, Stacy teaches friendship skills, emotional literacy, and problem-solving skills. These social emotional skills are keys for student success in kindergarten and first grade.

12:30 – 1:30

Lunch & Learn

Lunch & Learn

Join us to learn how you can make change for kids at a macro level! In this workshop you will learn a foundational advocacy skill, and learn about opportunities to engage state and federal lawmakers on the importance of early childhood and investments in early learning. This will be an interactive workshop with the chance to take at least one advocacy action. No prior experience is necessary. One hour of credit is available through PDIS for this workshop.
Annalise is the Colorado manager for Save the Children Action Network. Throughout her career she has led humanitarian, development, and human rights campaigns—mobilizing advocates and engaging lawmakers. She has worked in Latin America and the United States. Annalise received her Master of Arts in Latin American studies from the University of California, San Diego, and holds a certificate in international human rights and humanitarian law from American University, Washington College of Law. She currently serves as board chair for the Latin America Working Group Education fund.

Special thanks again to our sponsors:

  • Fort Lewis College
  • Discount School Supply
  • Lakeshore
  • Montelores Early Childhood Council
  • School Specialty

We also want to thank all of our presenters!

Finally, thank YOU for coming!

Conference Committee:

  • Michelle Carpenter
  • Kris Greer
  • Vangi McCoy

Looking for 2020 Conference Info?