April 29, 2019
This spring marked Fairfax Futures’ 15th Annual School Readiness Symposium, a professional learning opportunity for early childhood educators across Fairfax County. Fairfax Futures hosted the event in partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools and Fairfax County Office for Children through a generous grant from the PNC Foundation’s Grow Up Great Initiative. PNC has been a steadfast supporter of this event over the past ten years.
This year’s Symposium—Healthy Children, Healthy Futures—brought hundreds of early childhood educators together for a day to learn how they, like parents, play a critical role in supporting the healthy development of young children. Fairfax County Board Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who is retiring later this year, welcomed participants and was recognized by Fairfax Futures and the Office for Children for her continued support of the Symposium and educators in Fairfax County. Pamela Northam, First Lady of Virginia, also shared her passion and vision for early childhood education across the state. PNC representative and Fairfax Futures’ Board Member, John Feeney, offered insights for the audience about the Grow Up Great Initiative and its mission to support school readiness.
Keynote speaker Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician, national bestselling author, and co-founder of Happiest Baby introduced concepts, such as the role of non-verbal communication and positive feedback, as well as actionable steps to support an educator’s role in providing a healthy and safe environment for children.
After his talk, Dr. Karp was joined in a panel discussion with Dr. Kofi Essel, pediatrician, Children’s National Health System and assistant professor of pediatrics, George Washington University School of Medicine; Mr. John Richardson-Lauve, director of mental health and lead trauma and resilience educator at ChildSavers; and Mr. Christopher J. Revere, deputy director for innovation and planning at the Fairfax County Health Department. Each brought unique perspectives across different health lenses—nutrition, social-emotional, environmental, and physical—to broaden participants’ understanding of how the early childhood education setting can be lifted as the model to support the full spectrum of health.
Five stars! [The Symposium was] very well planned [with] a great panel of speakers! -Early Childhood Educator
In the afternoon, participants heard from Dr. Nimali Fernando, a pediatrician with Yum Pediatrics and founder of the Dr. Yum Project; Ms. Lacy Stephens, program manager with the National Farm to School Network; and Ms. Leticia Flores-Ortiz, an Early Head Start family child care provider in Fairfax County. Collectively they shared innovative resources and strategies to encourage early childhood educators to bring nutritious, local fresh foods to their child care programs.
The Annual School Readiness Symposium never fails to give a new perspective on how to help the children in our care thrive and grow. Always great ideas and information. -Early Childhood Educator
Fairfax Futures thanks all the participants, volunteers and speakers who made this year’s School Readiness Symposium a huge success! Watch our 15th Anniversary video for more details.