Investing in School Readiness


On Saturday, April 27, Fairfax Futures hosted its Annual School Readiness Symposium entitled, The Brain – Everything Starts Here: Understanding and Fostering Development. The Symposium is hosted in partnership with Fairfax County Government Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) Early Childhood Programs & Services division.  Keisha Dotson, Deputy Director of NCS, kicked off the event with a warm welcome for nearly 300 early childhood educators from centers, family child care homes and public PreK programs. Jermaine Johnson, Regional President of Greater Washington and Virginia, with the PNC Financial Services Group, provided additional opening remarks.  


This year’s event marked the 20th consecutive year that Fairfax Futures has hosted the Annual School Readiness Symposium and we are grateful for the PNC Foundation’s steadfast sponsorship of this signature event. Johnson shared PNC’s Grow Up Great®  initiative which provides tools and resources in support of high quality early childhood education.


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The keynote speaker, Dr. Angela Searcy, a certified teacher, credentialed early intervention provider, and author, shared insights from her book Push Past It! A Positive Approach to Challenging Classroom Behaviors. During the session, she inspired early childhood educators with her extensive knowledge about how to help young children with challenging behaviors through self-reflection and compassion. Check out the recorded keynote address here.


Keynote Speaker, Dr. Angela Searcy


Speakers Dr. Angela Searcy and Mr. Chazz Lewis


Fairfax Futures built upon and enhanced the event over previous years. Highlights included:

  • 16 Around Fairfax video
  • Sponsorship support from the business community
  • Educators’ Session with Mr. Chazz
  • Spanish translation for participants
  • Resource Fair – 11 organizations represented
  • Sustainability Initiatives: the use of large jugs of water for personal water bottles instead of small plastic bottles; the recycling of coffee totes; virtual resources, in lieu of hardcopy handouts, provided via LiveBinders.

A special thanks to our event supporters:


PNC Foundation (Premiere Sponsor) 


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Eleccion, LLC (Breakfast Sponsor)       


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(Event Supporter)


Fairfax Futures Board Members and PNC Leaders

This year’s symposium featured five distinct breakout sessions on early childhood education. Workshop presenters included: IFEL Early Childhood Specialists Bernice Mayfield and Debbie Weigand; Michelle Saenz from the TMW Center for Early Learning and Public Health at the University of Chicago; Early Learning and Museum Specialists from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center; Fairfax County Library Division representatives Tina Mraz and Renee Edwards; and Pamela Sneed, Early Childhood Education Program Administrative Specialist.


“Twenty years is a special milestone to reach as an organization and the Symposium marks the important role that Fairfax Futures plays in our community,” stated Sallyann Rodriguez-Sawao, Fairfax Futures’ executive director. “It was wonderful to see so many educators coming out for the event.  I also appreciate the dedication from my colleagues to organize this creative and impactful day for our community. We are grateful to our event supporters – the PNC Foundation; Eleccion, LLC; and Truist for joining us this year”.


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Symposium Participants from the Columbia Baptist CDC


To view more photos from our event, please visit our Facebook page.

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