Starting Strong Conference Shares Promising Practices

On August 1-3, early learning educators from around the state gathered in Tacoma for the annual Starting Strong Conference. This conference provides a unique opportunity for community providers, teachers, administrators and state leaders to come together for three days of learning and networking. A variety of presentations, covering a wide range of topics, are submitted each year by experts and practitioners. For the second year in a row, the Race to the Top PreK-3rd grade team has been fortunate to present on promising practices being implemented by the seven Road Map school districts.

This year, the P-3 team, along with early learning leads from three districts, led a panel focused on the building of districts’ early learning advisory teams. Page Meyer, Early Learning Director for Kent School District; Heather Newman, former Early Learning Director for Tukwila School District; and Karen Soine, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Renton School District, shared their challenges and successes in building and sustaining a cross-sector early learning advisory team. A packed room of roughly 30 participants heard from district leaders about lessons learned, successes, and strategies for sustainability, had the opportunity to ask questions, and worked with their own teams to brainstorm what implementation might look like in their own district.

In addition, Kent School District presented for the second year. Page Meyer led a session discussing Kent’s journey to build a robust PreK-3rd grade system. This session has been well attended both years, and has provided other districts with the opportunity to understand the adaptive and technical challenges in building and sustaining a PreK-3rd grade system. The Starting Strong conference has allowed districts and PSESD staff to share the tremendous work of the Road Map Region with district, community and state-level leaders from all over Washington.