Last month, the 2018 West Kootenay Early Years Conference, “Growing a Culture of Professionalism” was held at Mary Hall in Nelson.
This year, participants were engaged in a new format of learning – a taste of an early learning institute. We were fortunate to have Lorrie Baird, from Peterborough, Ontario, join us and offer a shorter version of an institute.
The premise behind an institute is to move away from shorter workshops that fill us with as much information as possible in two hours, and into in depth, exploratory and provocative sessions that ask us to reflect on our actions, our instinctual responses and our early years practice. They are usually 3-4 days long. As opposed to listening to a lone speaker, the session was based on guided small group discussion. We were provided with scenarios, asked for responses – and more often than not, our responses were challenged with the question “What do you want to grow?” When a care giver responds, each moment is an opportunity to “grow” different parts of a child, or a situation. Each choice has an impact and as professionals, each choice must be carefully considered. Those who participated took a risk, on a new way of learning, together in learning communities and we are so grateful that they did!
A tradition of the West Kootenay Early Years Conference is the awards ceremony, wherein we honour outstanding early childhood educators and family child care providers.
This year’s early childhood educator nominees were: Brenda Zoobkoff, Carr Kelly, Heike Reeg-Smith, Jamie Sokoloski, Kathleen Brown, Lacey Hill, Maggie Mulvihill and Rieko Asaba. Our nominated family child care providers were: Deena Lioche, Jose Lioche, Sandi Oorthius and Melissa Gerow. Congratulations to all nominees and to award winners Kathleen Brown (ECE) and Maggie Mulvihill (family child care provider) for their outstanding contributions to the child care sector! In her acceptance speech, Maggie shared the following poem about what it means to work with young children:
There is no job more important than yours,
no job anywhere else in the land.
You are the keepers of the future;
you hold the smallest of hands.
Into your care you are trusted
to nurture and care for the young,
and for all of your everyday heroics,
your talents and skills go unsung.
You wipe tears from the eyes of the injured.
You rock babies brand new in your arms.
You encourage the shy and unsure child.
You make sure they are safe from all harm.
You foster the bonds of friendships,
letting no child go away mad.
You respect and you honour their emotions.
You give hugs to each child when they’re sad.
You have more impact than does a professor,
a child’s mind is moulded by four;
so whatever you lay on the table
is whatever the child will explore.
Give each child the tools for adventure,
let them be artists and writers and more;
let them fly on the wind and dance on the stars
and build castles of sand on the shore.
It is true that you don’t make much money
and you don’t get a whole lot of praise,
but when one small child says “I love you”,
you’re reminded of how this job pays.
We commend the early childhood educators and early years professionals of our region for their invaluable work, and thank all who attended the West Kootenay Early Years Conference for a wonderful weekend of learning together.