Track A Courses

Linking Literacy to Motor

Workshop: A1
Presenter: Marilyn Bitsis
Ages: 3,4,K
Core Knowledge Areas: Professional Practice, Methods, & Curriculum
Description: Discover how to connect the fourteen KidBuilders’ motor skills to higher learning. Preschool teachers will learn how to improve their students’ academics through motor development activities and learning enhancements. Marilyn Bitsis, a Master Registered Trainer in the Texas Early Care and Education Development System, has co- authored a book Sensational Beginnings – Sensory and Motor Activities for Infants and Toddlers. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and has a combined twenty six years of business and teaching experience. She is the owner of the motor skills company Kidbuilders.

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Prayers, Praise, and Play

Workshop: A2
Presenter: Christina Brackens-Evans
Ages: All
Core Knowledge Areas: Professionalism
Description: Wow! Who said coffee was the only way to jumpstart your morning to survive your preschool environment. Let Christina share her proven use of the 3P’s (prayer, praise, and play) that is sure to improve your day! Pastor Christina Bracken-Evans is a wife, mother of two, and has 15 years of experience as a Lead Teacher in Infant and Toddler classrooms. She is a continuing student at the Christian Biblical College in Houston. She and her husband, Pastor James Evans Jr., are the founders of JC Ministries which is a unique outreach venture which focuses on nontraditional evangelism.

Groovy Geology!

Workshop: A3
Presenter: Barbara Cargill
Ages: All
Core Knowledge Areas: Professional Practice, Methods, & Curriculum
Description: Volcanoes, fossils, rock treasures, and dinosaurs! What more could an amateur paleontologist ask for? Experiments include making edible metamorphic rocks, fossil imprinting, digging treasures from sedimentary rock, core sampling the earth, erupting volcanoes, and excavating dinosaurs from ice. Your students will love geology when doing these hands-on experiments and activities!
Barbara Cargill is the Founder/Director of Wonders of The Woodlands Science Camp which just celebrated its 22nd year of offering summer camps, school outreach programs, teacher professional developments and birthday parties. ( Barbara has an education degree from Baylor University and graduate degree from Texas Woman’s University in science education. She served for four years as Chair of the Texas State Board of Education, an appointment by Governor Rick Perry, and is currently serving her 4-year term on the Board.

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Play it out! The power of play therapy!

Workshop: A4
Presenter: Casey Casteel
Ages: 3,4,K
Core Knowledge Areas: Guidance
Description: Play is the language of the child. Learn how play can be utilized in the classroom to help children express themselves, assist in emotional regulation and manage classroom behavior. Through an introduction to child centered play therapy, learn how the therapeutic principles can be utilized in the classroom to assist with classroom management, identify developmental delays, and develop social and emotional growth. Discover current challenges faced due to the lack of play and ways to address those challenges. Casey has worked in the education field for more than 17 years in Early Childhood, the Arts and Special Education. She has an M.A in Professional Counseling and is completing her certification as a registered play therapist. Currently she is a Licensed Professional Counselor-intern providing individual, group and family play and expressive arts therapy in private practice.

Bounce From a Book: Creative Writing Experiences Inspired by Quality Children’s Literature

Workshop: A5
Presenter: Sharon Dworaczyk
Ages: PK-K
Core Knowledge Areas: Professional Practice, Methods, & Curriculum
Description: During this presentation, participants will be introduced to quality children’s literature and ways to extend children’s understanding of the written word. From class quilts to creative art experiences, find out ways to enhance children’s literature that make the reading process a fun and engaging one.
Sharon Dworaczyk has worked with young toddlers through second grade age children for over twenty years. Her education background consists of an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education specializing in Early Childhood and English as a Second Language from Texas A & M University in College Station and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Houston, Clear Lake. She was trained in the Classroom Storytelling Project from the School Literacy and Culture from Rice University in 1996, and has continued with the project as a mentor teacher and seminar leader.

Learning Interventions & Learning Differences in Childhood

Workshop: A6
Presenter: Gayle Y. Fisher, M.Ed.Tech.
Ages: T–K
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth & Development
Description: We shall discuss how a child learns, how all the layers of learning fit together (or don’t, sadly). We will discuss best practices in learning interventions, what parents and educators can do to help, and some classroom management re-directs to help guide behaviors toward intrinsic motivation and self-directed learning. Gayle is a mom of a child with learning differences and an educator at Lone Star College-Montgomery Academy of Lifelong Learning. She helps you understand what to do to help children with learning differences prepare for today and for life. More about Gayle at

Touchable Literacy

Workshop: A7
Presenter: Wesley Gibson & Sarah Williams
Ages: 3,4,K
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth & Development
Description: Learn how to take your literacy lessons to the next level by creating an environment where all of the childrens’ senses are engaged. Providing a mix of open-ended and guided multi-sensory play materials enhances imagination and allows for children to invent and discover. During this workshop, teachers will learn the importance of multi-sensory learning, as well as how to apply it to their literacy lessons. Wesley Gibson and Sarah Williams have a combined over thirty years of teaching experience in early childhood and elementary schools. Their passion of literacy led them to create Literacy Enrichment and Play, which aims to teach of love of literacy and learning in the early years. Wesley and Sarah continue to teach their literacy program throughout Houston, as well as train early childhood teachers using their multi-sensory/play methods.

Hot Topics in Nutrition & Health

Workshop: A8
Presenter: Kathryn H. Grigsby
Ages: All
Core Knowledge Areas: Professionalism
Description: This presentation is designed to enable teachers and administrators to focus on taking care of themselves in the midst of busy schedules and family lives. We will explore current nutrition topics and interesting concepts important for good health. Topics may include, but are not limited to: new dietary guidelines, carbs / sugars, gluten, organic foods, food labels, supplements and how to find reliable information. Nutrition is an evolving science, and new information is revealed as more is discovered. Attendees will be encouraged to ask questions, and topics will be explored as desired.
Kathryn H. Grigsby is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and has been an educator for healthcare facilities and community organizations as well a Research Dietitian for Baylor College of Medicine. She currently teaches nutrition and music for The Chapelwood School for Young Children.

Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child

Workshop: A9
Presenter: Janine R. Groth, M. Ed.
Ages: All
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth & Development
Description: Five senses, five domains, and eight intelligences will be examined to help teachers create better lesson plans. Participants will analyze their current practices and learn an approach that will assist them in creating lessons that are well round and targeted to the whole child. Teachers will leave with a thorough grasp of how they can help each child reach their potential through an intentional lesson plan. Janine Groth has been in the Early Childhood Field for over 30 years, starting as a teaching assistant and working up through the ranks to currently teaching college. She operated a large NAEYC accredited center for almost 5 years and then moved to the higher education arena in 2005. Ms. Groth is an adjunct professor for University of Houston-Downtown, Lonestar College and Houston Community College.

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Spring Cleaning With the Noodle Lady!

Workshop: A10
Presenter: Diane Havens
Ages: T-PK
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth & Development
Description: Lots of moving games using imaginary stories and musical activities to encourage cleaning ourselves and our environment. Lots of great new equipment ideas that are inexpensive and long lasting for all your motor activities. Come ready to move with the Noodle Lady! Diane Havens has been teaching creative toddler – preschool music/movement activities since 1988. She is the co-owner of a movement and music center in Kingswood and teaches on a regular basis. She currently co- owns with her daughter a childcare, pre-school and afterschool program.

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Science Detectives: Birds, Spiders, & Insects

Workshop: A11
Presenter: Aileen Kirkham
Ages: 3,4,K
Core Knowledge Areas: Professional Practice, Methods, &Curriculum
Description: Attendees will make-and-take items and experience recommended books and activities to teach units on birds, spiders, and insects. Aileen Kirkham is a published author or numerous magazine articles and four books. She has presented 50+ staff development programs and over 300 story telling programs. She has 30+ years of teaching experience

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Play ---- The Springboard to Learning

Workshop: A12
Presenter: Marilyn Kramer
Ages: 3,4,K
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth & Development
Description: The participants of this workshop will discover the characteristics of play; the importance of play on the neurological and cognitive development of young children; and how play can foster problem-solving, pre-math, pre-reading, and science skills in the young child. Classroom management techniques to promote play and open-ended manipulatives will also be introduced.
Kramer is the owner/CEO of ECE Training Dynamics, LLC and a TECPDS Registered Trainer. She holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Texas and an undergraduate degree in ECE from Southwest Texas State University. Kramer is passionate about young children and incorporating developmentally appropriate practices in the early childhood classroom!

Classroom Activities to Foster Healthy Eating, Activity, and Family Routines

Workshop: A13
Presenter: Laura Laine
Ages: All
Core Knowledge Areas: Professional Practice, Methods, & Curriculum
Description: Obesity and overweight conditions now affect 25% of children 2-5 years. Factors that contribute to this alarming statistic include poor family routines, inadequate sleep, excessive screen time, inadequate activity, large portions, and poor fruit and vegetable consumption. A 2010 study showed that children in childcare were protected from obesity compared to those cared for by parents and relatives. This talk will discuss the causes of obesity in preschool children and offer ideas for classroom activities that foster healthy eating, activity, and family routines.
Laura Laine is a registered dietitian, spiritual director, and owner of Sophia Grace Center for Nutrition, Health and Spirituality. Laura worked at Texas Children’s Hospital for 22 years and served as Parish Administrator of St. Laurence Catholic Church for 8 years. She and her husband Greg have been married for 32 years and have 2 grown children that are both gourmet cooks!

The Impact and Need for Infant and Toddler Play Outdoors

Workshop: A14
Presenter: Susan Meriwether
Ages: I, T, & 2
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth and Development
Description: Participants will list four areas of development which have a significant impact on why we MUST take infants and toddler’s outdoors daily. There will be a discussion on how to set-up an outdoor play area and ideas for interesting experiences. Susan Meriwether, M.A. is a teacher of Two and Three-Year-Olds at St. Francis Episcopal School. Susan offers training to parents and teachers of young children and speaks on a variety of topics.

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Sing Across Texas With Me: Greatest Hits

Workshop: A15
Presenter: Devora Miller
Ages: 3,4,K
Core Knowledge Areas: Professional Practice, Methods, & Curriculum
Description: Celebrate the great state of Texas with songs and games. Rodeo, farm, and bilingual songs and activities will be included. Curriculum connections in reading, math, and social studies will be demonstrated. Come a ki yi yippee yay! Devora is the music specialist at The Briarwood School in Houston and has been sharing her love of music with children and educators for the past 27 years. She also teaches creative dramatics at Grace Presbyterian Church and is the found of Big Books That Sing!

POPCORN: Behavior Management For Sensory Processing Needs In The Classroom

Workshop: A16
Presenter: Robin Rettie
Ages: All
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth & Development
Description: POPCORN is an interactive workshop that provides insight and support to educators who are baffled by behavior of children who seem to lack social awareness, are rigid and experience difficulty in shifting, and who experience meltdowns turning the best planned day into chaos. Due to the rise in Autism (1 in 68), educators need information and strategies as to how to support unfamiliar behavior. Expect to learn about the 7 sensory systems and to gain insight to research proven strategies that support the management of behavioral and environmental triggers that can help a child experience greater success in learning, social, and emotional development. Join Robin Rettie, M.Ed. Special Education for a fun-filled, engaging learning experience!
Robin Rettie, M., Ed., Special Education, is the owner of Lighthouse Learning Resources, an online specialty store that supports individuals with special needs in Sensory Processing Disorder through training and product use for parents and educators. Robin holds a State Board for Educator Certification in the State of Texas and has 20 years combined teaching experience in Early Childhood, General Education, and Special Education, and is the sister to Laurie Lorraine Rettie, who was born with a disability.


Advanced & Director Tracks

Directors’ Track: Designed for directors, this is a 4-hour long workshop (including lunch) and will be offered on Thursday only. Participants will still go to the keynote address on the day they attend this workshop.

Advanced Track:
Designed for very experienced teachers, this is a 4-hour long workshop (including lunch) and will be offered on one day only. Participants will still go to the keynote address on the day they attend this workshop. If you choose the Advanced Track, please ensure that you ONLY attend the workshop that is relative to the age that you teach.

Thursday Directors’ Track: The 7 C’s of Culture

Workshop: A17
Time: Thursday 10:30am – 2:30pm
Presenter: Tym the Trainer Debra K. Weymouth
Ages: Admin
Core Knowledge Areas: Professionalism
Directors’ Track: Designed for directors, this is a 4-hour long workshop (including lunch) and will be offered on Thursday only. Participants will still go to the keynote address on the day they attend this workshop.

Tym the Trainer will start us off with an inspiring workshop, The 7 C’s of Culture. Knowing that staffing an early childhood center is one of the most challenging parts of a director’s job, this workshop will discuss seven incredible techniques that are imperative to managing a successful program, motivating and retaining quality staff.

Following lunch together, you will have the opportunity to “ask the experts.” We’ve brought together a penal of experts, moderated by Debbie Weymouth, Director of St. Luke’s Day School and past ECMC Keynote Speaker. Our experts include: Tym the Trainer, Kim Renick (Inspector V; DFPS – Child Care Licensing) and Tracy Willemssen (Educational Diagnostician at Holy Covenant Child Development Center).

Thursday Advanced Track: The Importance of Infant/Toddler Brain Development and Your Role as an Early Childhood Educator

Workshop: A18
Time: Thursday 10:30am – 2:30pm
Presenter: Keith Pentz
Ages: I, T, & 2
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth & Development
Thursday Advanced Track: This workshop will examine research and notable applications of interpersonal connections, language/communication use and patterns, and emotional support and development. All will be addressed as they relate to the establishment of a social brain. How we work with the very young, especially the emotional engagement we provide to infants and toddlers, is a profound opportunity. The society of tomorrow is being determined by our relationships, brains, and minds we help to create today.

Keith L. Pentz, National Early Childhood Specialist for Kaplan Early Learning Company, has been in the field of education for more than 35 years. Keith began his career by working in childcare with infants and toddlers, taught elementary students as well as Kindergarten, and then taught PreKindergarten. Before beginning his career as a consultant, Keith taught at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida and was an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts,

Friday Advanced Track: Teaching Emotional Intelligence: The Early Years

Workshop: A19
Time: Friday 10:30am – 2:30pm
Presenter: Brian Goonan, PhD
Ages: 3,4,K
Core Knowledge Areas: Child Growth & Development
Friday Advanced Track: Teaching Emotional Intelligence – The Early Years Emotional Intelligence is considered a distinguishing “soft skill” in adults. However, our emotional lives and emotional regulation skills begin from the time we are born and are highly teachable. This workshop will give teachers both the theoretical understanding and practical tools for working with children and their families in the early childhood years to create the building blocks for increasing emotional intelligence.

Dr. Brian Goonan is a clinical psychologist who received his degree from Emory University and practices in Houston. Dr. Goonan is a life cycle psychologist who works with individuals, families, and groups from early childhood through late adulthood, caring not only for the needs of the person as they exist today but being mindful of how each stage serves as a foundation for the next. Dr. Goonan has given over 100 presentations and workshops in churches, schools and various organizations throughout Texas.


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“Share with your friends”
We’ve all said this… now it’s your turn to share with your ECMC friends!

Remember to bring a developmentally-appropriate activity to display in the Sharing Room. Other teachers will love to get ideas from you!

Each item must be accompanied by the Sharing Room Activity Description form which has been sent to your director. Or simply download the form below. Bring your sample activity and form to the Sharing Room on Thursday morning and pick it up before you leave on Friday.

Sharing Room contributors will earn one additional clock hour!
Be sure to cruise the Sharing Room to see great new activities that you can take back to your classroom. Feel free to bring a camera to capture the look and purpose of the activity.

If you have questions about the Sharing Room,
please email Debbie Durkin:
Don’t miss this opportunity to let your favorite activities shine!
Click Here to Download the ECMC Sharing Room Contribution Form