‘Grow your skills, network and play’ at R.T. Garcia Early Childhood Winter Conference
Early childhood instructional coordinator Stephen Gonzales attends the R.T. Garcia Early Childhood Winter Conference each year because it provides a learning environment for teachers to come together to share teaching strategies and best practices and to socialize. Gonzales says the venue is particularly valuable because it allows teachers to collaborate across the 25-plus districts surrounding Harris County, a geographic area representing one of the largest student populations in the state.
This year, the conference hosted by Harris County Department of Education will be held Jan. 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kingdom Builders’ Center, 6011 W. Orem in Houston.
The 28th Annual R.T. Garcia Early Childhood Winter Conference is a tradition which has been woven into educators’ calendars for generations. The conference is named after longtime conference supporter Raymond T. Garcia, former Harris County Department of Education board trustee and president who is a Houston-area resident and businessman.
“What brings me to the conference is the opportunity for early childhood educators to come together and hear fantastic, wonderful sessions from not only nationally known authors and presenters but also local teachers that can help one another grow professionally,” said educator and administrator Maria Navarez-Solis, who provides leadership on the committee which organizes the conference.
Harris County Department of Education early childhood specialist Debra Anderson said the conference will bring together over 1,000 educators this month with 90-plus breakout sessions for workshop choices and about 50 exhibitors providing educational early childhood curriculum services and products, including software and games.
Keynote speaker is Marianne Gibbs, occupational therapist and national presenter. Her session is entitled: “Promoting Academic Readiness through Improved Sensory and Motor Skills.” Bilingual keynote is Elsa Cardenas-Hagan presenting “Making Connections: Language and Vocabulary Development for Dual Language Learners. A host of presenters including Pam Schiller, Stephen Fite, Debbie Clements, Matt Gomez, Maryln Appelbaum, Melissa Williams and Childtrauma Academy focus on best practices in English as a second language and bilingual education, math, reading, science, technology and more.
Houston Independent School District Principal Ali Oliver began attending the conference 10 years ago as a teacher. When she became a principal three years ago, she began sending her teachers and considers the conference a value for a day packed with early childhood teaching practices and new teaching materials.
The conference is priced at $100 before Jan. 25 and $125 for walk-in registrants. To register, go to www.hcde-texas.org/ECWinterConf. Sponsors for 2014 are Boeing and Kaplan Early Learning Company; supporters are Kroger, Frog Street Press and Smart Financial.
About HCDE: Harris County Department of Education provides education services to the general public and 25 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, Early Childhood Intervention and Head Start programs. We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support. Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at www.hcde-texas.org .
Carol Vaughn, Communications/Media Relations Manager
Communications and Public Information