2022 Annual Conference of California Association for the Education of Young Children
The theme of the conference was Visions for the Future. Considering many changes and much public interest in early childhood education, this conference hoped to identify and shape the visions of the field of early childhood education in California. It was the first face-to-face California-wide early childhood education conference & expo since the COVID-19 pandemic break in 2020 after two virtual conferences in 2020 and 2021. There was happiness and hugs everywhere – people are just SO happy to meet in person.
There were tears of joy and relief among board members and staff when the conference registration number hit over 1,100 participants. The main source of revenue for CAAEYC is conferences and the two years of virtual conferences have not generated enough income for CAAEYC putting its financial stability at risk. Although the board decided to move forward with having a face-to-face conference in July 2021, we were nervous, especially during the COVID-19 Omicron variant outbreak. The board set and updated Health and Safety protocols a few times, even on the first day of the conference, to align them with the City of Pasadena’s change in health order.
There was comradery and connection – in hallways of the Pasadena convention center, lobbies at the conference hotels, and restaurants nearby – people were busy sharing their lives and their teaching during the COVID-19 restrictions, and expressed their sincere condolence to the members who lost their loved ones. As an Executive board member (Treasurer), I was busy helping and connecting members at the Registration and the Hub (a member service booth.)
There was unusually high information sharing through the exhibit hall full of vendors. Vanguard Early Childhood (VU EC) program had an exhibit booth to recruit students. Many participants responded positively to the 100% online program that is designed for full-time working early childhood professionals. Most of all, due to the PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential plan by California CTC (Commission on Teacher Credentialing.) Many early childhood educators are interested in getting their bachelor’s degrees. VU EC program could proudly say we are participating in TPEs (Teaching Performance Expectations) and TPAs (Teaching Performance Assessments) pilots to prepare for the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credentialing implementation.
There was comfort and inspiration when the keynote speaker shared the importance of checking & taking care of our mental health as early childhood educators and how we could help young children who have experienced trauma.
There was motivation from every single workshop that is carefully planned to support the development and learning of young children.
Most of all, there was love for the young children and for the fellow early childhood educators. Before the conference, I encouraged one of my students, Michelle Lynam, to participate in the conference. She has been the director of a family childcare center in Bakersfield and is a VU EC student who transferred from Arizona State University. I noticed her exceptional leadership quality and strong care for her family childcare professional community when I taught her and could imagine the positive influence she could make on her Native Indian Tribe by involving California Statewide ECE professional organizations.
Since it was her first professional conference attendance and she came alone, I introduced her to the CAAEYC leadership and connected her to other early childhood educators. She told me that she is naturally introverted and has not even thought about attending a conference/meeting new people. However, since my comment on her leadership quality, she could see how God has been guiding her to lead and help her fellow family childhood care professionals. She even helped me recruit new students at the VU EC booth.
After the conference, she wrote me an email:
I attended the Early Childhood Council of Kern meeting this week, and am just waiting to hear from FCC for CAAEYC although I may attend the Public Policy meeting as well. I have a list of things I would like to see accomplished in Kern County, especially after attending the Public Policy workshop with SLO County R&R and seeing what they have been able to implement within their childcare community.
I could clearly see God’s love and plan for everyone and everywhere.