School of Professional and Continuing Studies

45th Annual Crucial Early Years Institute 

 About l Registration l CEUs/DHSS l Speakers l PresentationsPlanning Committee | Brochure

Designed to meet the needs of teachers, child care providers, parents as teachers, administrators, social workers, students in teacher education, and parents of young children. We trust your Institute experience will be professionally rewarding.

A variety of workshops are scheduled on a wide range of topics, including keynote and featured speaker presentations, one-hour sessions, and two-hour sessions. A box lunch is included in the registration fee.



Please note that there is no longer a group registration discount. We encourage people to register online as confirmation is sent out electronically.

To better serve you, enrollments are limited. Once capacity is reached, we will not be able to accept further registrations, even if it is reached before October 5, 2013.

New Registration Procedures For This Year

Registration Online | Register By Mail or Fax

For more information, please call (314) 516-5655.

Note: It is not necessary to register for, or identify, the individual workshop sessions you will be attending. Simply register for the Institute and you will receive a finalized Schedule of Workshops on arrival.

Cancellation, Withdrawal, and Refund: The University reserves the right to cancel any program. In the event of cancellation, you will be notified immediately, and all program fees will be refunded or applied to a future program at your request. A cancellation processing fee will apply if you cancel within two weeks of the Institute. If you must cancel a registration, please call (314) 516-5655 by October 5, 2013, to guarantee a full refund.

UMSL CEUs/DHSS/MO Open Annual Clock Hour Training Requirement Record

Continuing Education Units: One Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is defined as 10 hours of classroom instruction. Up to 0.6 CEUs will be awarded for participation in this year’s Crucial Early Years® Institute. All attendees will be mailed a Certificate of Attendance with CEUs after the Institute.

DHSS/MO Open Clock Hours: A MOPD ID is required when you register for the Crucial Early Year’s Institute. You can obtain your MOPD ID by going to The Crucial Early Years Institute has been approved for the DHSS (licensing) annual clock-hour training requirement. UMSL will submit the attendance sheets to MO Open Initiative to record clock-hours to your MOPDID.

More information will be provided in the brochure and at the conference.

Keynote & Featured Speakers

CatapanoSusan Catapano, EdD, Keynote Speaker

Mirrors and Windows: Strategies for Enhancing Literacy for Young, Diverse Learners Research shows that beginning readers use their background knowledge and familiar experiences to relate to texts, recognize words, and understand stories. Having access to books in which children can see their own lives represented and valued is key to increasing motivation and persistence for reading, and subsequently, developing critical literacy skill. This session is designed to support early educators and primary grades teachers in recognizing high-quality, culturally diverse children’s literature and building culturally relevant collections for their classrooms or child care centers. Through a culturally relevant classroom library, teachers can provide both a window to other cultures and a mirror for children to see themselves represented in the literature, curriculum, and daily activities of the classroom.
Susan Catapano, EdD, is a professor and chair of the Educational Leadership Department at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. Susan has been an active member of the early childhood field as the owner and director of two nationally accredited early learning centers, executive director of a nonprofit organization, president of the local NAEYC affiliate, and university faculty in early childhood education. She has been the principle investigator on more than $4 million in federal, state, local, and private grants. Susan’s research focus is on mentoring cultural responsive new teachers to work with diverse learners.  She has been the author or co-author on more than 30 publications on teacher education.
FlemingJane Fleming, PhD, is an assistant professor in teacher education at Erikson Institute, a graduate school in child development in Chicago. Her research examines the impact of culturally relevant children’s literature in supporting students’ literacy learning. She has completed numerous reviews of urban children’s literature and has studied its role in fostering student engagement and the development of beginning reading skills among children in urban public school classrooms. Dr. Fleming is a former middle school teacher and elementary reading specialist with more than 20 years experience working and teaching in urban settings.

BerkowitzMarvin Berkowitz, PhD, Featured Speaker

Nurturing the Roots of Character: The early years are crucial for most aspects of human development and character is no exception. This presentation will explore both the early signposts of character development from birth to five years old. It also will focus on key nurturing behaviors that research has demonstrated to positively impact early character development.
Marvin W. Berkowitz, PhD, is the inaugural Sanford N. McDonnell Endowed Professor of Character Education and co-director of the Center for Character and Citizenship at University of Missouri–St. Louis. His research interests are character education, moral development, adolescent development, and risk-taking. He is author of Parenting for Good (2005) and more than 100 book chapters, monographs, and journal articles, and editor of Moral Education: Theory and Application (1985) and Peer Conflict and Psychological Growth (1985). He serves as a board member of the Character Education Partnership and the Center for Social and Emotional Education, and as co-editor of the Journal for Research in Character Education. In 2006, he was awarded the Character Education Partnership’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


Anxious Annie and Stressed Out Stephan
11:45 (2 hr)
Elizabeth Frisbee, EC Mental Health Consultant/Behavior Specialist
Many young children come to us carrying stress and anxiety rooted in their life experience. Come learn how chronic and acute stress impact children’s bodies and their cognitive and social-emotional development. Practical strategies will be given for helping anxious children to relax and modifying instruction and the classroom environment to best suit their needs.

Apps for Early Childhood Education: More Than Just Games
9:15 (2 hr)
Debra Bryant, ABA Consulting Services
Touch tablets, such as iPads, are amazing media that draw in children of all ages. This session demonstrates how to make interactive devices more than just a gaming toy or TV. Many tools and apps promote child development in a dynamic way. Learn how to enhance the lives of children who are either typically developing or those with special needs using these devices

Autism Spectrum Disorder: What it Is, What it Isn’t and How to Help
9:15 (2 hr)
Lisa Eberle-Mayse, Director of Inclusion Services, United 4 Children
With so many children being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), early childhood educators must become familiar with ASD and learn ways to support children with autism in inclusive settings. We will dispel some common myths about autism and discuss current knowledge. Learn the range of treatments available for assuring a successful, inclusive environment for children with ASD. Resources for you and families will be shared.

Beyond DAP: Planning for the Development of all Children
11:45 (2 hr)
Jami Swindell, United 4 Children
In this session participants will learn developmental milestones within each domain: physical, intellectual, creative, linguistic, emotional and social. Participants will explore how to promote development in each area in the classroom environment. You will learn strategies to create adaptations and modifications to meet each child’s unique learning style and developmental needs.

Beyond Reporting: Supporting Children Who’ve Experienced Abuse in the Classroom
9:15 (2 hr)
Elizabeth Frisbee, EC Mental Health Consultant/Behavior Specialist
All early childhood professionals are mandated reporters. But supporting young children who have been abused can go far beyond making a hotline call. We will explore the special needs of these children and the environmental, instructional and relational modifications we can make to support them. Emphasis will be placed on building trust, wellness and resiliency.

Books—Not Just For “Story Time”
8:00 & 2:00 (1 hr)
Andrea Walton, Walton and Associates
This session gives an overview of how books can be utilized throughout the classroom and the class day. Participants will discuss materials and activities, related to books, which expand learning opportunities in every interest area. Come prepared to interact and plan to leave with ideas you will want to put to use right away!

Brain Development & Building Healthy Connections in Infants
8:00 (1 hr)
Stacy Altrup, Dynamic Pathways
Participants will receive a foundational understanding of how the brain develops from conception to birth, including the strategies necessary for healthy brain development beginning in infancy. Some of these strategies include: interaction, touch, communication, self-esteem, play, music, and reading.

Dealing with Difficult Parents
9:15 & 11:45 (2 hr)
Daryl Rothman, MO Coordinating Board for Early Childhood
Dealing with difficult parents can be one of the toughest challenges in the life of early childhood professionals. This session takes on some of the toughest such challenges, examines the root causes, and explores effective solutions for easing the stress and creating positive relationships, which in the end is what matters most for the children in our care.

Effective Discipline with Infants and Toddlers: Dealing with Challenging Behavior
11:45 (2 hr)
Karen Hoerchler, Riverview Gardens Parents as Teachers
This workshop addresses challenging behaviors in the classroom, why they happen and how we can best deal with them. The focus will be on how to encourage social/emotional development in infants and toddlers, as well as how to help children learn to control their own behavior.

Emotional Regulation and Children’s Behaviors
2:00 (1 hr)
Stacy Altrup, Dynamic Pathways
Learn what emotional regulation means and how it affects children in the classroom, including how they behave, think, understand, and learn. When children cry, tantrum, or withdraw, they are communicating how their minds are responding to that moment; they are regulating. We can help children learn to self-regulate, soothe themselves, and overcome distresses effectively.

English Language Learners and Content Knowledge
11:45 (2 hr)
Ralph Cordova, PhD UMSL College of Education
You will learn to distinguish between two kinds of language: Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALPs) and Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS). This distinction will then be illuminated in an interactive science lesson, developed for language learners. Participants will learn how to account for CALPs and BICS to support content knowledge development of English language learners and all students.

Healthy Homes/Lead Poisoning
8:00 (1 hr)
Sheila Pearson, Saint Louis County Department of Health
The Healthy Homes Program addresses environmental hazards in the home and school which harm millions of children each year. We take a holistic approach by providing information on safety, health fairs and events, provide free lead testing at your center, teach about asthma and triggers and provide indoor air quality assessments.

How to Turn Your Sensory Table Into a Learning Environment
8:00 & 2:00 (1 hr)
Renee Re, Riverview Garden School District
Are you bored with your sensory table? Come and see how you can turn your table into an environment that you can assess your students. Sensory tables are a great opportunity for students to have fun. We explore new ideas for your sensory tables and a couple of ways to assess quickly.

How to Use Music and Movement Outside of Group Time
11:45 (2 hr)
Rose Anderson-Rice, United 4 Kids
This fun, engaging and interactive workshop explores how to incorporate music and movement outside of group time, while also understanding its benefits in the learning environment. You can make a song out of anything whether you are a songbird or not!

“I Dig Learning”: Ecology for Young Children
8:00 & 2:00 (1 hr)
Denise Speck, University Child Development Center
Do you feel stuck once the plants on the windowsill have withered? If so, this is the workshop for you! During this workshop, we will talk about fun ways to effectively implement ecology into your everyday curriculum and share local resources that you can tap into.

Implications of Breastfeeding
2:00 (1 hr)
Kelsey Melchior and Hayley Chrzastowski, MSOT, Washington University
Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of infection, promote parent-child bonding, and has been associated with improved developmental outcome. In this presentation, the emotional, psychological, and physical benefits of breastfeeding for the mother as well as the developmental benefits for the child will be discussed.

An Introduction to Neuro-behavioral Assessments of the Preterm Infant
2:00 (1 hr)
Odochi Nwabara and Laura Renew, Washington University School of Medicine
Early alterations in function can be observed shortly after birth, and understanding deviations from normal development can enable early interventions to optimize outcome. An overview of neurobehavioral assessment procedures used with preterm infants from 34 weeks gestational age to 6 months of age and implications for parents and care providers will be discussed.

A Little Bit of Science
9:15 (2 hr)
Julie Tubbs, Community Education, The Magic House
Join museum educators from The Magic House as they introduce hands-on science activities that support the Missouri Early Learning Standards in Science. Early childhood educators will gather engaging teaching strategies and hands-on activities to spark excitement for science learning in the preschool classroom.

Math—It’s a Game
9:15 (2 hr)
Mary Krekeler, Riverview Gardens School District
If you are looking for easy, low-cost, concrete ideas to enhance math, this session is for you! We will explore how to use teacher-made games with intentionality to enrich your math curriculum, focusing on the Missouri Early Learning Standards. Walk away with a toolbox of ideas to make learning math fun and effective.

Move Into Mindfulness
9:15 (2 hr)
Meg Krejci, Masterpeace Studios
This session is an introduction to the benefits and possibilities of bringing a mindfulness practice to your students and how it can work in the classroom. We will be moving, breathing and relaxing, and experiencing how mindfulness teaches children to pay attention, manage their mental and emotional energies, build self-esteem and grow compassion and community.

9:15 (2 hr)
Bonnie Shiller, St. Louis Community College
Come prepared to participate, sing, dance, move, and learn various music and movement activities. This interactive hands-on workshop promotes physical and creative development in young children and is nonstop fun!

Nature Unleased
9:15 (2 hr)
Jamila Reid, Conservation Education Consultant, Missouri Department of Conservation
Get your classroom buzzing about nature! The Nature Revealed program works to connect children with nature through hands-on experiences. Learn about resources available including funding for an outdoor classroom through the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Outdoor Explorations
11:45 (2 hr)
Laura Seger, Early Childhood Programs Coordinator, Saint Louis Zoo
Looking for easy activities that help connect children with the natural world? Powerful outdoor explorations are possible, even with very little green space. Discover engaging activities, both in and out of the classroom, that provide those awe and wonder moments that encourage children to spend more time exploring the great outdoors.

Prematurity: Implications for the Early Childhood Classroom
8:00 (1 hr)
Joy Bender and Kelsey Melchior, MSOT, Washington University
Premature infants have high rates of developmental delays. This presentation will provide an overview of health and medical factors associated with prematurity and the long-term effects of prematurity on development. We will discuss how to adjust developmental age for prematurity, what teachers should be aware of when working with this population, how to refer children at risk, and how to support the child and family to optimize outcome.

Presto! Use Magic to Teach Reading and Math
8:00 & 2:00 (1 hr)
Leff Lefton, Abra-Kid-Abra
Learn simple magic tricks and interactive activities you can employ to help teach reading and math skills to preschoolers. Magic is a great tool to grab attention, engage children, introduce and teach new topics. And, who knows, you may even be able to pull a few of these tricks on your fellow teachers as well!

Redefining “Circle” Time
8:00 (1 hr)
Sarah Huisman, PhD, director of Early Childhood, Fontbonne University
Circle time has been a common practice in the preschool classroom for years. This session will examine the traditional circle time and explore a variety of modern practices. With new engaging tactics learn how circle time can be engaging and developmentally appropriate.

Revolution Inclusion: A View From a Bilingual Inclusive Early Childhood Classroom
2:00 (1 hr)
Ellie Hock and Tina Closson, Belle Children’s Services St. Louis ARC
We will discuss inclusion and what it looks like in the early childhood classroom, especially when you have bilingual and ESL students. You will receive examples and suggestions on how you can implement inclusion strategies in your own classroom with children speaking different languages.

Rise of the Technotoddler: Supporting Young Children’s Play and Learning with Technology
11:45 (2 hr)
Nicholas Husbye, PhD,
UMSL College of Education
Explore a developmental approach to incorporating technology, technology handling, and digital media creation by young children through a variety of learning and play experiences. Emphasis will be placed on the productive possibilities of a range of technology, shifting children’s interactions with technology from merely consumptive to creative.

Smart, Fit, Happy Baby
8:00 (1 hr)
Eileen Kinsella, Integrative Therapies
This session addresses the importance of movement and handling infants and toddlers to support and enhance brain and body development. The session will identify basic movement needs, correlate developmental pathways, and demonstrate how cognitive function requires lower brain center function to create a curious, engaged child with core strength and attuned special senses.

Strategies for Engaged Learning
11:45 (2 hr)
Michelle Broeckelmann, Dynamic Pathways
Participants will learn how the five methods for engaged learning can enhance and open up a child’s understanding and motivation to learn in the classroom setting. These five methods include co-regulation, interdependent learning, self-awareness, memory building, and competence. When teachers include these methods in their everyday routines, children can learn to excel in their education.

Supporting Healthy Language Development
2:00 (1 hr)
Michelle Broeckelmann, Dynamic Pathways
You will learn the developmental approach to language development in young children and gain an understanding of how to support communication in the classroom. Materials that outline how typical communication develops, what to look for regarding red flags, and strategies to help each child reach his/her milestones will be provided.

Taming Temper Tantrums
2:00 (1 hr)
Elizabeth Frisbee, EC Mental Health
Consultant/Behavior Specialist
Do you have a chair-thrower or a screamer who can go on forever in your classroom? Come learn how to respond to temper tantrums in a developmentally appropriate way that really works! We’ll learn: the cycle of an angry outburst, interventions for each phase and methods for teaching children to appropriately express their angry feelings.

Teaching Children Through Brain-Mind-Body Activities
9:15 (2 hr)
Stacy Altrup, Dynamic Pathways
Learn active, hands-on strategies related to brain-mind-body development that can be implemented in your classroom immediately. When the brain becomes active, it stimulates our minds to learn, and then when you involve the body in learning, children build self-confidence, become competent in understanding their capabilities, and master new skills instead of just being compliant.

Thinking Through Materials: Art as an Investigation
8:00 & 2:00 (1 hr)
Clarity Sayre
Unwanted, inexpensive and forgotten materials can be an excellent catalyst for young children’s creative and cognitive development. This session will focus on how recycled materials can be used to facilitate a project approach to art and learning. Join us for an engaging hands-on session!

Understanding Your Sensory Kids
11:45 (2 hr)
Lisa Cooseman, Occupational Therapist, Leaps and Bounds, Inc.
Have you ever wondered why your child screams at the noise of the vacuum? Why do some children have difficulty wearing certain clothes or touching different textures? This presentation will discuss all of the sensory systems and provide a better understanding for our “sensory kids.” Strategies will also be given in how to help kids with sensory needs.

Using the Project Approach with Toddlers
8:00 (1 hr)
Erin Babb, University Child Development Center
We will explore ways to successfully incorporate the Project Approach into a toddler curriculum. During this interactive session we will learn the basics of the Project Approach and how it is being using in current toddler programs. Participants will create a project to use in their programs.

What I am Saying vs. What I am Doing
11:45 & 9:15 (2 hr)
Alan Shiller, SIU-Edwardsville
This highly interactive workshop will center upon reading nonverbal behaviors. We all know that “actions speak louder than words.” What are people actually communicating with their nonverbal movements? Get a better grasp on the messages children, parents, and co-workers are sending (and their underlying meanings)!

When Children Take the Lead
8:00 & 2:00 (1 hr)
Brandi Cartwright, Raintree Learning Community
For many educators, while the concept of child-directed learning may be interesting, questions and fears remain. How does a class “run by kids” work? What kinds of projects can be done? This session features child-directed, long-term projects from Raintree Learning Community while introducing the unique ways constructivism is integrated into classrooms.

Planning Committee