Exclusive Interview with Teresa Ann Power: and The ABCs of Yoga For Kids Around the World


Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Heidelknips.

Visit Fractus Learning for my blog this week for an exclusive interview with Teresa Ann Power, Author of the acclaimed ABC of Yoga for Kids.  We’ll be discussing Teresa’s career, her first book’s success, International Kid’s Yoga Day, and her latest book, The ABCs of Yoga for Kids Around the World!


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Early Childhood Education is in Big Trouble


Early Childhood Education is in Big Trouble

Click on the link to tune into our podcast on SoundCloud, or read below to find out about what we need to be doing in our cities, states, and at the federal level for early childhood education.

Covering my trip to DC could be a challenge.  I could write ten posts about my time there, so for my initial post, I will begin with the end in mind (that one is for the Stephen Covey fans).

Early Childhood Education is in big trouble.   Formulation of a united professional language, an inclusive environment for all providers, and practical, actionable solutions for our biggest challenges are necessary to achieving our higher goals.

Small communities: In our cities, we should start reaching out to each other to form alliances, and to provide more professional development opportunities for leaders and staff.  It is also our responsibility in a community like Rapid City to reach out to providers in surrounding rural communities to help share resources. Early childhood education leaders need to raise the standard for how we are running our businesses, who we are hiring, and how we are training our staff. We also need to form a common language and make sure everyone on staff uses it.  If anyone calls you or anyone on staff a babysitter, correct them!

State-wide: There are several levels of “us” vs “them” in South Dakota. In our state it is necessary to respect that our early childhood educators are diverse.  The mistrust and lack of communication between centers vs registered in-home family daycare vs school district vs Headstart, instructors with CDAs vs bachelor’s degree vs the professors at our universities has got to stop.  Don’t get me started on east river vs west river. Our divisions must end if we are ever going to raise standards and move forward.  Licensed child care centers are in the minority, most our children attend registered in home family daycare.  Registered in home family daycare needs to be recognized for their contribution to our communities, and acknowledged as our parent’s “top choice.” Leaders from registered in home family daycare need to be at the table of our statewide discussions about quality.  And mentioning discussions, there are many groups forming in South Dakota to discuss the issues of early childhood education.  The positive: There’s a surge of people becoming engaged and connecting.  The negative: We really need strong leadership, equal representation, and logical strategies to be implemented.  Our unity is imperative or we will not be effective.

Federally: It is imperative that early childhood education have consistent, quality representation at the federal level.  This is not something that should be brushed off for a couple of years.  We also need to be meeting with local legislators and the offices of United States legislators throughout the year, so our initial contact with them isn’t suddenly when a new bill is on the table and we want to get our way.  National early childhood education associations are not concerned with what is going on in South Dakota.  We are so deficient, they can’t even comprehend the items they’re proposing for early childhood education are nearly completely out of reach.  We must speak up and let them know or we will be left even further behind.

Professional implementation is fundamental to early childhood education’s success.  Respectful connections with others is the only way we are going to move forward. We must collaborate with each other, with our communities, and with our leaders.  Anything less will only undermine our efforts and continue to hold us back.

Thank you for tuning in to Early Education Plantation.

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Podcast: Ms. Jessica Goes to the State Capitol


Click here to listen to the podcast version of this article, or copy and paste this link:  http://jessicacastleberry1.homestead.com/Podcast-Ms-Jessica-Goes-to-the-State-Capitol.html?_=1486931713526


I had heard through the grapevine that there were two new bills being introduced in South Dakota specific to early childhood education. Bill 155 dealt with starting a preschool pilot program, simplified meaning that 2000 income qualifying families would have access to $2500 each to help with tuition. Bill 156 focused on the development of an early learning council.  This council would combine individuals from sixteen different sectors to come together as a state to discuss all ideas/concerns/future planning for early childhood education in South Dakota.  South Dakota is one of only six states that does not have an early learning council.

There’s a lot that I could say about the details of both bills.  If you are interested in the read, you can find Bill 155 and Bill 156 in the links I have provided.  You can even tune into a podcast of the Senate Education Committee Hearing where the bills were presented.  It is about two hours long, but if you care to hear my testimony starts at about 11 minutes in, although the entire hearing is worth a listen.

I mentioned earlier that I had heard that these two bills were being presented.  I serve on several boards and advocacy groups, and only one had even mentioned the bills in passing during a conference call on January 25th.  That call provided about as much detail as I have given you (maybe one or two sentences).  I have been doing a bit of research lately on federal policies and interacting with lawmakers for a different trip I have coming up and so I began to research the legislative process at the state level.

I have to admit politics are something I have only ever been peripherally invested in.  I generally have enough information to know who I want to vote for, but beyond that my knowledge is very sparse.  I used to fall asleep in my high school Government class, not because it wasn’t interesting but more-so because it was right after lunch (sorry Mr. Randall).  Those who are politically inclined may read this and think “How could she not know this or that?” It’s important to look outside of our realm of knowledge, and to approach some situations with a sense of, “How would the uninformed look at this?” I’m the first to admit I’m uninformed about a lot of things!

Through my research I discovered that the legislative session is NOW so these bills would be introduced very soon. On February 5th (Super Bowl Sunday) I figured out that both bills had been read on February 1st.  I E-subscribed to follow the bills, this way I would receive emailed updates to my inbox.  On Tuesday, February 7th at about 4:30 pm I received an email that stated the bills were scheduled for the Senate Education Committee Hearing Thursday, February 9th at 7:45 am CT.

For about the next 38 hours I contacted one of my fellow advocates to see if she could go, I researched protocol and the best way to deliver my message, and of course drove the three hours to our state capitol (I also slept a little).  I want to share with you the top four things I took away from this experience:

The State of South Dakota does not provide public information on how to become involved in state government

There are several states that provide great information on how to testify at legislative hearings, such as  WisconsinNorth Dakota, and Hawaii.  Because I am a stickler for detail, I called the information line at the capitol in Pierre to verify the guidelines were the same here.  They said they would leave a “sticky note” on the Chair of the Committee’s desk to call me and answer that question. If I had waited for that call back I wouldn’t have made it to Pierre because I am still waiting.  Someone would eventually find me dead at my desk and my epitaph would read, “The senator never called her back.”

Politics can be ugly

While there are hundreds of people who supported my decision to go, there is always pushback.  There are the opponents to the bills, but there are also a lot of people working in the early childhood education industry who don’t see the benefit of moving forward.  They either don’t understand the changes, or they see no reason to change.  It is so vital that we continue to have these conversations, on BOTH sides. This way we can try to meet in the middle and do what is best for young children.

Advocacy is more important than ever

If I hadn’t stumbled into this information, early childhood education wouldn’t have had ANY representation at this hearing.  The other testifiers were from other professional groups, and though their presence was important, it was ludicrous that no one IN OUR INDUSTRY would’ve been there.  Is it because professionals who are passionate are tired of being ignored? Is it because our next generation of professionals don’t know how they can make an impact?  We’re watching the kids and helping them grow, but who’s in charge of watching us and helping us grow?

It wasn’t (that) scary

The hearing was really an opportunity to have a conversation with the senators on the committee.  They were supportive and interested in what I had to say.  The number one piece of advice I would give, is to try to think like a lawyer and guess what the opposing side is going to say, because you can’t stand up in the middle of the hearing and yell, “That’s not true!” or “That data is erroneous!” You have to anticipate what they might say and address it when you speak.

The only poor grade I received in high school was in Debate.  I got a D and it brought down my whole grade point average.  I don’t like to argue, and I guess I missed the class description that said “debate means arguing.” Being an advocate isn’t only for the passionate “Young (Political Party) of America,” or those who relish in the political process, or only for those who not only aced Debate, but were on the Debate team.  Being an advocate is an important part of walking the walk.  Anybody can talk the talk and complain. Advocates raise awareness and keep the conversation going, even when their bills are deferred to the forty first day. If you don’t know what that means you’ll have to look it up!

As always thank you for tuning in to Early Education Plantation. Comment. Connect. Cultivate Change.

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