Confirmed Featured Speakers:

Check back to this tab as additional speakers are added
and information about their featured sessions.


Peggy Ashbrook
Peggy Ashbrook

is an early childhood science teacher and writer—the National Science Teachers Association’s Early Years column in Science & Children and companion blog (, and author of Science Is Simple (2003, Gryphon House). She began teaching science to young children in her home as a day care provider in 1988. Peggy is active in professional associations—National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and NoVA Outside Early Childhood Committee, presenting at local, area, and national conferences. She is a co-facilitator for the NAEYC Early Childhood Science Interest Forum (ECSIF). Currently, Peggy teaches children, mentors teachers in schools, and provides professional development on early childhood science inquiry. Her favorite place is where the worlds of early childhood and science learning overlap. Peggy will be doing sessions on Friday and Saturday as a part of the STEAM track.


Dr. Jean
Dr. Jean Feldman

has a noteworthy educational career spanning more than 40 years.  She has served as a classroom teacher, instructor of adults, author, and consultant.  She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Kindergarten Alliance, and the International Reading Association.  Dr. Feldman has an M.A. in Early Childhood and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.  She has written over 20 books for early educators and has produced many CDs and DVDs for young children.  Dr. Feldman inspires teachers around the globe with her engaging songs and creative activities that help make teaching and learning FUN! Dr. Jean will provide a Thursday evening preconference session and sessions on Friday morning.


Dr. Rowe
Deborah Wells Rowe, Ph.D.

is a professor of early childhood education at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate literacy education courses. She began her career as a public school, kindergarten teacher, and earned her Ph.D. at Indiana University-Bloomington, before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 1986.  She has spent almost three decades studying how young children learn to write in community childcare settings and in publicly funded PreK and primary grade classrooms. With co-PI, David Dickinson, she directed the Enhanced Language and Literacy Success grant funded by a U.S. Department of Education, Early Reading First grant. Partnering with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools administrators and teachers, this grant implemented and tracked the outcomes of research-based language and literacy instruction for PreK students.  Most recently, she has explored the writing opportunities provided when young English learners are invited to use iPads and digital cameras to create their own eBooks in PreK classrooms.  Dr. Rowe and co-author Sandra Wilson have developed the Write Start! Writing Assessment as a tool for documenting changes in young children’s writing across the preschool years.   Rowe is the author of a book, Preschoolers as Authors: Literacy Learning in the Social World of the Classroom, and numerous research articles.  Her research on preschoolers’ writing has been recognized with the International Literacy Association’s Dina Feitelson Research Award.  She is a co-editor for the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, a member of the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel, and serves on the board of directors for the Literacy Research Association. Dr. Rowe will provide sessions on Friday and Saturday.


Dr. Sargent
Maria Sargent, Ph.D.

has been active for over 25 years in general education, special education, and behavior and arts intervention. She is a professor at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio.  Her academic areas of focus are bio-medical aspects of learning and behavioral and social interventions Dr. Sargent is the creator of the website which provides free materials and resources for families and teachers. This site contains videos and content related to information processing such as visual, auditory, and sensory integration; teaching strategies including sequencing, play, and literacy; behavior such as impulse control, behavior support, and intervention plans; and resources for families to enhance teaching skills and behaviors, and family support. Dr. Sargent will provide sessions on Friday and Saturday.


Kathryn Sharp
L. Kathryn Sharp, Ed.D.

is an associate professor in the Early Childhood Program at East Tennessee State University.  Her research interests are literacy, classroom management, teachers’ dispositions, and teacher preparation.  Before teaching at the university level, Dr. Sharp was a classroom teacher in Memphis, TN. While teaching in the classroom she also taught in remedial reading programs, reading camps, etc. In doing so, she has taught literacy to every age range and grade from toddlers to adults. She has conducted numerous workshops on literacy and always enjoys working with teachers on the topic.  When not teaching, Dr. Sharp enjoys many hobbies, including quilting, reading, chess, scrapbooking, and cooking. Dr. Sharp will be providing a full day preconference session on Thursday.


Dr. Stremmel
Andrew J. Stremmel, Ph.D.

is Professor and Department Head in Teaching, Learning and Leadership in the College of Education and Human Sciences at South Dakota State University. He is former Director of the Child Development Laboratory School at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. He received both his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from Purdue University in Early Childhood Education and Child Development, and earned his B.A. in Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University.  Currently, Dr. Stremmel is an executive editor of Voices of Practitioners: Teacher Research in Early Childhood Education, NAEYC's peer-reviewed, professional online journal for early childhood teacher researchers. Dr. Stremmel’s research interests are in the area of early childhood teacher education, in particular teacher action research, and Reggio Emilia-inspired, inquiry-based approaches to early childhood teacher education and curriculum. He has published over 60 refereed journal articles and book chapters and has co-edited two books, Affirming Diversity through Democratic Conversations (1999, Merrill/Prentice Hall), and Teaching and Learning: Collaborative Exploration of the Reggio Emilia Approach (2001, Merrill/Prentice Hall). He also has co-authored the book, Teaching as Inquiry: Rethinking Curriculum in Early Childhood Education (2005, Allyn & Bacon), which is the first comprehensive early childhood education text provoked and inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach.  Dr. Stremmel will be the Featured Speaker for the Reggio Inspired track providing workshop sessions and reflections.


Dr. Smith
Cheryl Smith Turner, Ed.S., M.Ed.

is a seasoned teacher trainer who brings passion, professionalism and more than 35 years of experience as an educator to each and every presentation.  She connects to her audiences with a training style that combines humor with common sense strategies and active learning.  As the CEO/owner of REACH Teaching Learning Solutions (TLS), an educational consulting firm with offices in Atlanta, Georgia, Cheryl provides educators with the insight and training for improved instructional strategies that contribute to a positive climate for learning.  Cheryl obtained her Specialist in Education Degree from Georgia State University with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and her Master of Education from Emory University in Educational Studies.   Cheryl is nationally certified to train PreK -12 educators on strategies for Classroom Management and Differentiated Instruction.  She is also a state-approved Trainer III for Georgia, qualified to deliver beginning, intermediate or advanced level trainings to early care and education professionals statewide.   Additionally, Cheryl is a state-approved trainer for Strengthening Families Georgia, which provides instructional support for child and family serving organizations.  Cheryl will provide sessions on Friday and Saturday focusing on classroom management, additionally, she will provide a “magical” closing session inspiring critical thinking skills for all learners.


Susan Wirth

serves as Outreach Director for the Arbor Day Foundation & Dimensions Educational Research Foundation’s collaborative Nature Explore program, a national initiative designed to help children re-connect with the natural world as an integral part of daily learning. Susan delivers trainings, keynote addresses and speaks to state/national/international groups. She has written on connecting children with nature for national publications such as Children and Families, and NAEYC’s Young Children.  She heads the Early Childhood and Environmental Education committee for the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) and was part of the NAAEE writing team that wrote the nationally accepted Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence.  Susan conducts national workshops, community forums and design consultations to help people create effective outdoor learning environments for children. She will be providing one of the preconference sessions on Thursday as well as a workshop session on Friday.


Contact Information

Julia Herwig
Conference Coordinator
Phone: 423-439-7614
Fax: 423-439-7561

Payment Instructions

Early Bird
cut-off date is
May 9th, 2016.

Registration Site will be open February 1, 2016

Past Conference Highlights



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