'Childhood Journeys' focus of this year's Early Childhood Conference at ETSU

JOHNSON CITY -- It's been said that "life is a journey," and it's an especially thrilling, colorful journey for children as they play exciting games, read and hear stories about exotic creatures and far-off lands, and learn daily about many fascinating things in the world around them.
   Therefore, "Childhood Journeys" is the theme of the 43rd annual Early Childhood Conference for educators, child care providers, librarians, and others involved in the education and care of young children. Scheduled for Friday and Saturday, July 18-19, the conference will take place at East Tennessee State University in the D.P. Culp University Center. It is sponsored by the ETSU Center for Early Childhood Learning and Development in the College of Education, ETSU's Office of Professional Development and the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
   Each day will feature a 9 a.m. keynote address in the Martha Street Culp Auditorium reflecting the conference theme.
   "Stories, Poems, and a Crayon Box" is the topic of Friday's keynote address by Sharon MacDonald of San Antonio, who has been training teachers for over 19 years throughout the United States. In her 28-plus years of classroom experience, she has taught ages 3 to adults. Her practical ideas, down-to-earth approaches and enthusiastic presentation style "energize and delight" members of her audience, who will be able to implement many of her ideas in their classrooms right away.
   MacDonald has written magazine articles and childrens' books, and co-authored two cover stories for Scholastic's Early Childhood Today magazine. In addition to two interactive CDs, she has published numerous books, including Watermelon Pie and Other Slices, the We Learn All About series, Idea Bags, Cooking Idea Bags, and three books in the Discovering the World series. Her most recent books are Block Play; Everyday Discoveries; Squish, Sort, Paint & Build; and Portfolio and Its Use: A Road Map for Assessment.
   "All Aboard for Childhood Journeys" will be presented by The Learning Station, a nationally known childrens' recording and performing company, as Saturday's keynote session. Don and Jan of The Learning Station are recognized for the ability to capture young audiences with educational music and hands-on activities that encourage a child's natural curiosity to explore, learn, play and grow. The company's positive approach has achieved the highest standing in the educational community with 13 award-winning audio releases, including "Tony Chestnut," "Here We Go Loopty Loo" and "Physical Ed," as well as four videos, including "It's Show Time" and "All Aboard." Don Monopoli and Jan Hirkach are from Melbourne, Fla.
   The Early Childhood Conference includes more than 100 small group sessions for participants, in addition to special sessions focusing on children with developmental delays, such as autism spectrum disorder. It also features visiting authors, an Early Childhood Research Forum, various "make-and-take" workshops, a Creative Discovery Room and an Exhibitors' Hall. Tours of ETSU's innovative Child Study Center on Signal Drive will also be offered to conference participants; due to limited seating on these bus tours, those who wish to participate should pick up free tickets on a first-come, first-served basis outside the University Bookstore on the second level of the Culp Center from 8-9 a.m. each day.
   A registration form and additional information are available on the conference Web site, http://child.etsu.edu/center/events/conf2003/2003Conference.html. Registration fees postmarked on or before July 1 are $55 for both days and $40 for one day only, while fees postmarked after July 1 or paid on-site are each $10 more.
   Conference participants are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). Those wanting a CEU certificate must add $10 to the registration cost. One-day participants receive 0.5 CEU, and those attending both days receive 1.0 CEU.
   One hour of academic credit may be earned by attending the conference. To earn this credit, participants must pre-register for the course and pay appropriate fees through the ETSU School of Continuing Studies. Additional hours for class meeting are required on Thursday, July 17, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. and Saturday, July 19, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Call Barbara Charleton at (423) 439-4223 for further information on registering for academic credit.