Kristen Valley is one of 2019’s PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions. She works at Boone Park Elementary School in North Little Rock, Arkansas (AETN) as a Family Engagement Professional. She will graciously be sharing her journey with PBS in this blog for AECA.

You can find out more about Kristen here.

The NAEYC Conference was an amazing experience. NAEYC was held in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee at the Music City Center. The 2.1 million square foot facility opened in 2013 and was built so that Nashville could host large, city-wide conventions in the downtown area. When I say it was massive… it was MASSIVE! Although it was really large, it was a beautiful space to hang out for a few days.

The Music City Center was filled with awesome vendors at the NAEYC Shop and Expo. It was like black Friday-everyone wanted to get in when the doors first opened for the conference.

Imagine being with over 9,000 educators gathered from around the globe to connect, collaborate, and learn together. I was in my happy place for sure! J I have always wanted to attend the NAEYC Conference and I was thrilled when I learned that PBS KIDS was sending the 2019 Early Learning Champions to attend.

During my time at NAEYC, I was able to connect with other educators and administrators about various ideas about the importance of family engagement and staying connected. In one of the parent engagement sessions called Creating and Implementing A Dynamic Family Engagement Policy, the speakers talked about the importance of a two-way flow of communication between the educators and parents.

We also discussed how building great relationships with families is an important part of every early childhood educator’s job, and participating in their child’s education is an important part of every family’s job. Successful family engagement approaches make this work part of a coordinated school- or program-wide system. We all need each other to help make our student’s successful. In between sessions, I was able to eat at the famous Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and take a tour of some neat murals around the downtown area. Overall, it was an experience of a lifetime. 

Thanks for taking this journey with me,
Kristen Valley

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