Confirmed Featured Speakers:

John Almarode

John Almarode, an educator and staff developer. He has worked with all age groups in education from kindergartners to graduate students. John began his career in Augusta County teaching inclusion mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. As a mathematics and science teacher, John created an innovative and unique experience for each of his students, matching instruction with how the brain learns. Frequently, John would use movement and the arts to enhance the learning experience in math and science. His interest in brain research began while working on his Master's degree. This interest led him to Eric Jensen, world-renowned brain-based learning expert and staff developer. After three years of training with Eric Jensen, John became certified by the Jensen Learning Corporation and does referral work for Eric Jensen as well as Neurokinesiologist, Jean Blaydes Madigan.

As a staff developer, John has presented locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally on the role of brain research in education. Allowing audiences to experience brain-based learning, his action-packed workshops offer participants ready-to-use strategies and the brain rules that make them work. John has authored several publications on brain-based learning including a children's book to help educators inform students about their amazing brains.

John holds a Doctoral Degree in Science Education from the University of Virginia, a Master's Degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Gifted and Special Education, and a Bachelor's Degree, with Honors, in Physics and Mathematics.

Mary Jo Huff


Mary Jo Huff, Storytellin, has been a keynote speaker at national, state, regional and local conferences. She is a motivational, educational, entertaining keynote speaker with a passionate message. She travels throughout the U.S. sharing her humor and wit. A wealth of information and educational experiences are shared with each audience. She is recognized nationally for her special blend of humor that tickles and touches the heart. Mary Jo has presented to more than 100,000 adults and children with many more on her future schedule. Mary Jo will present multiple sessions during the conference including: Early Literacy begins with Rhythm, Rhyme and Storytime; Storytelling with Puppets, Props and Playful Tales; and Snap, Clap, Giggle, and Wiggle – to Musical Language.


Cheri Lindsley


Cheri Lindsley, Early Childhood Program Director and Trainer, has spent over 30 years in Early Childhood Education including teaching children ages 6 weeks through school-age, directing a variety of child care programs, mentoring and supervising many professionals, working for Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R), Child Care Food Program (CACFP) and Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA). Cheri is committed to the highest levels of quality for all young children.  Her particular areas of passion are infant and toddler care, connecting children with nature, and Reggio inspired practices. Cheri will present two sessions during the conference focusing on infants and toddlers entitled: Key to Quality Infant-Toddler Care: Reciprocal responsive relationships and R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Little Ones. 


Tanny McGregor


Tanny McGregor has been teaching and learning in Cincinnati, Ohio for over 25 years. She has taught full-time in grades 1-5 and served as a literacy coach and gifted intervention specialist in grades K-12. A staff developer and internationally known keynote speaker and workshop presenter, Tanny shares imaginative, inspiring, and practical teaching strategies that engage and motivate teachers and students alike. With creativity and a can-do spirit, she has helped hundreds of thousands of practitioners improve how they reach their readers. The smash-hit Comprehension Connections introduced teachers across the country to the imaginative, inspiring, and practical teaching of Tanny McGregor. Now Genre Connections brings to teaching genre the same creativity and can-do spirit that has helped hundreds of thousands of practitioners improve. In addition to Comprehension Connections and Genre Connections, she is a coauthor of the Heinemann title Comprehension Going Forward. Ms. McGregor will be providing a preconference session entitled: Strategies for Enhancing Comprehension in K-3. She will also provide workshop sessions on Friday with the same content focus.

Lisa Maddox-Vinson


Lisa Maddox-Vinson, Lisa is very passionate about Early Childhood Education. For 18 years she was the Children's Library Director for the LaVergne Public Library, which was ranked 5th in the nation for its children's programs. She currently teaches Early Childhood Education at Austin Peay State University with the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance. Lisa has presented at many National, State and Local Conference across America. Some of the national conferences where she has presented informative sessions and workshops are: National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA), and the National Kindergarten Conference and many others. Lisa sits on several Early Childhood advisory boards, such as TAEYC, SECA, along with several others. She has been working with children and adults for more than twenty-five years. Lisa’s workshops are full of energy, time saving tips, and money saving solutions. Her sincere desire is that you will be encouraged to try something new in your classroom after attending the workshop.


John Nimmo

 John Nimmo, Ed.D., has presented and consulted nationally and internationally for almost 30 years, including in Italy, China, Ghana, Vietnam, and Japan. From 2003-2013, he was Executive Director of the Child Study and Development Center and Associate Professor in Family Studies at the University of New Hampshire. In addition to being a visiting professor at universities in Ghana and Australia, John was previously on the faculty in human development and teacher education at Pacific Oaks College where he was a member of the Culturally Relevant Anti-Bias Education Leadership Team. His publications include the recent  Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs: A Guide to Change (with Louise Derman-Sparks and Debbie Lee Keenan), Emergent Curriculum (with Elizabeth Jones), chapters in The Hundred Languages of Children, and numerous journal articles. John is currently researching the connections between young children in childcare and the broader adult community and is collaborating on an international video project called “Voices of Children” as part of the Working Group on Children’s Rights through the World Forum. John holds a doctorate in ECE from the University of Massachusetts where he was engaged in some of the earliest collaborative research with the educators in Reggio Emilia, and was a preschool and kindergarten teacher in his home country of Australia and in the USA for over a decade. Dr. Nimmo will present sessions based upon his recent book on Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs and participate in the Reggio Track focusing on emergent curriculum.


Carole Stephens

Carole Stephens, “Miss Carole" of Macaroni Soup!, Dubbed "the Pied Piper of children's music", "Miss Carole" Stephens is a nationally renowned music specialist. Her cross-curricular music and guidance techniques instantly invite all audiences from the youngest child to the oldest adult to join in singing, dancing and rhythmic movement.

Miss Carole teaches:
HOW - classroom management techniques that really work!
WHY - brain research that supports the active music imperative
WHAT - developmentally appropriate movement activities that children love!

Miss Carole has been teaching music for children 1 - 6 years old since 1989. Through her company, Macaroni Soup! she travels across the US presenting concerts for children and families, and workshops for teachers, librarians and parents. Her seven award-winning CDs are treasured for their usefulness, appropriateness and simplicity. Miss Carol will be providing multiple sessions during the conference including the following: ACTIVE MUSIC: Brain Food, Body Fuel!; Tiny Tunes for Toe-Tapping Toddlers; and SING-A-BOOK! 


Julie Smith


Julianne Smith, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a Birth to Third Grade facilitator for the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a concentration in Speech and Hearing from the State University of New York at Fredonia and a Master of Arts in Communication Disorders degree from Appalachian State University. She currently coaches and provides professional development for birth to five teachers in language and literacy. She has seventeen years of experience working with young children, their caregivers, and educators. She lives with her husband and daughter in Atlanta, Georgia. Ms. Smith and her co-presenter from the Rollins Center will offer a full day preconference session entitled: TALK with Me, Read with me, Responsive Interactions with Infants and Toddlers. They will also provide a conference session focused on infants and toddlers entitled RHYME with Me



Candace Hogan



Candace Hogan is a speech-language pathologist employed by the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School in Atlanta, Georgia. Candace is currently a Birth to Third Grade facilitator and provides professional development for birth to five year old teachers in the area of language and literacy.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama and a Master’s of Science degree in Communicative Disorders with a concentration in Speech Language Pathology at East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. Candace lives with her husband and twin boys in Decatur, Georgia and has over 13 years of experience working with children and their caregivers.   Ms. Hogan and her co-presenter from the Rollins Center will offer a full day preconference session entitled: TALK with Me, Read with me, Responsive Interactions with Infants and Toddlers. They will also provide a conference session focused on infants and toddlers entitled RHYME with Me.



John Wheeler


John J. Wheeler, Ph.D. is the Director of the ETSU Center of Excellence in Early Childhood Learning and Development. Recently he served as the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Previously, he was the Associate Dean and Director of Doctoral Studies, a Professor of Special Education, and Principal Investigator/Project Director of the Make a Difference Project at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee. Dr. Wheeler holds a B.S. in Therapeutic Recreation (1985), an M. S. (1986) and a Ph.D. in Special Education from Southern Illinois University. His professional interests include children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Applied Behavior Analysis, Positive Behavior Support, and evidence-based educational and behavioral practices for children with disabilities. Dr. Wheeler has authored over 60 articles in professional journals, 11 book chapters and books, numerous presentations at professional conferences, and various federally-funded and state-funded grants. His most recent publication focuses on * Dr. Wheeler will provide a conference workshop session entitled: Designing Effective Interventions for Children with Autism across Settings.



Christy Isbell



Dr. Christy Isbell is a pediatric occupational therapist with more than twenty years of experience working with young children. She is professor of occupational therapy at Milligan College where she teaches graduate level child development and pediatric occupational therapy courses. Dr. Isbell continues in private practice, and her specialty is the treatment of young children with autism, sensory processing disorders or neurological disorders. She has presented nationally and internationally on topics related to sensory integration, autism spectrum disorders, fine motor development, and the design and implementation of inclusive early childhood environments. Dr. Christy Isbell’s books were written to educate early childhood teachers and parents and include The Inclusive Learning Centers Book for Preschoolers with Special Needs and Sensory Integration: A guide for preschool teachers. She will provide a preconference session Sensory Integration: Addressing challenging behavior in preschoolers.

Contact Information

Julia Herwig
Conference Coordinator

Phone: 423-439-7614
Fax: 423-439-7561

Payment Instructions

Early Bird cut off date is May 11, 2015.
Register using credit card, check, or purchase order.

Registration Fees

PreConference $70 $85
2 day Conference  $97 $120 
1 day Conference $77 $100
Student Discount:  Call/email for information
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