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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As always, thank you for reading Early Education Plantation! Comment. Connect. Cultivate Change.

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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Comment. Connect. Cultivate Change.

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.

Check us out on Facebook to keep the conversation going!

Podcast Palooza!


Have you missed out on our podcasts?

Each of our podcasts features an exclusive interview with area professionals such as:

Susan Dotson, Owner of Dot to Dot Child Care and Winner of the Rapid City Early Childhood Educator of the Year Award 2016 

Kim Booth, Professional Development Coordinator for Early Childhood Connections

Kayla Klein, Director of Northern Hills Alliance for Children First Step Child Care

Collene Fletcher, Co-President of the Black Hills Association for the Education of Young Children

Lorie Eichert, Network Lead for the South Dakota After School Network

Tune in to each podcast for resources, insight, and interesting conversation. Join me, and meet some of the leaders in Early Childhood Education in South Dakota!

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Lorie Eichert: Exclusive Podcast Interview


Join me, Jessica Castleberry, as I sit down with Lorie Eichert, Network Lead for the South Dakota After School Network.  We discuss Lorie’s experience as a business owner, life coach, and her role as the Network Lead.  We delve into the mission of the South Dakota After School Network, and resources and opportunities for early childhood educators, parents, and after school program directors.  Tune in for Lorie’s inspiring advice for new educators and hear her one wish for South Dakota!

To tune in now, click here


Links referenced in the podcast:

SoDakSACA, South Dakota School Age Alliance: http://www.sodaksaca.org/
For Membership Information, Reach Out to bbakeber@spearfish.k12.sd.us
For more about Lorie:   www.lorieeichert.com
After School Day at the Capitol is Wednesday, February 1, 2017, Pierre
Out of School Time Director’s Retreat is April 27-29, 2017 Keystone
SoDakSACA Conference is October 5-7, 2017 Pierre

Facebook Giveaway! Copy of 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership


Did you know Early Education Plantation has a Facebook fan page?

If you’re not already a Facebook fan, like our page to be entered for your chance to win this month’s giveaway, 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell.


If you are a fan you can still like, comment, or share this post for your chance to win!

As always thank you for reading Early Education Plantation and remember:

Comment. Connect. Cultivate Change.

The mission of Early Education Plantation is to provide leadership, mentorship, communication, training, and advocacy for early childhood educators, as well as form collaborations with our communities.

Repeat Offenders: Common Laws Broken in Early Childhood Education


Hi my name is Jessica Castleberry and this is Early Education Plantation, a blog community providing resources, connectivity, and dialogue for those interested and invested in early childhood education.

Today I am taking a different approach to the blog and providing a podcast in addition to the weekly article.  I can appreciate that it can be easier to listen to a podcast while you’re multitasking than to sit and read. For those who are reading, be prepared for a much more conversational tone to this article.

For the podcast, click here ( http://jessicacastleberry1.homestead.com/Podcast–Repeat-Offenders.html?_=1484063797412 )

Or read on:

I want to delve into a couple of laws I’ve seen repeatedly broken, one: price fixing, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission, and the other, overtime rules, from the Department of Labor.  After that I just want to touch on two of our child care services licensing laws: ratios, and then the importance of checking IDs.

Let’s start with price fixing.   I have received calls over the years from other directors in our area calling me to ask what our rates are.  You can’t do this guys!  The simple act of calling another center, identifying yourself as a director and asking me (another director) for our rates is breaking a Federal Trade Law and could be viewed as price fixing. Merriam Webster defines price fixing as the usually illegal act or practice of agreeing with business competitors to set prices at a level instead of allowing prices to be determined by competition.  I’m not saying that the directors calling me have been trying to start a child care crime syndicate, and think that we can all raise our rates to an insane level that parents can’t pay.  In our industry, it is illegal even to ask me, because it implies that a conversation might take place to agree to raise rates.  Due process for competition would be to do your research.  Look at competitor’s websites, read a handbook, or call if you have to, just don’t identify your position because it is breaking the law.  There’s also a great resource in the state of South Dakota, it’s called the Market Rate Survey sent out by the Department of Social Services every two years.  This is filled with information on what many centers charge for full time and part time tuition, what benefits and wage they offer employees, and it’s broken down by county.  Great information, all in one spot, and it’s totally legal to obtain. There is a new Market Rate Survey coming out in May of 2017, however I have included the link for the 2015 Survey at the end of the article.

Moving on to another big offender, overtime rules for staff.  This can become a problem for early childhood educators due to meeting teacher to student ratios, staff absences, trying to fill open positions, if the center doesn’t have limits on how long children can attend the program per day, or if there are families who are perpetually late for pick up.   The federal requirement to be eligible to be a salaried employee is a wage of at least $455 per week, the employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed, and the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations. I’ve heard horror stories time and again of young ladies working ten hour days, five days a week because the center was short-handed, and not being reimbursed at an overtime rate.  Our workforce needs to be developed, but that also includes more information and education on their worker’s rights.  Hopefully you are aware of the hub-bub in the media regarding the Department of Labor’s attempt to change the requirements for overtime rules.  The rate for salaried workers was slated to rise in December of 2016 from $455 a week to $970 a week. That decision has been postponed by a preliminary injunction for now, however the Department of Labor is in the process of appealing and that preliminary injunction.  Directors and owners need to know we cannot ask our employees who are making less than $455 per week in a non-administrative position to work more than forty hours per week without overtime pay, and our employees need to know that too.

There are special challenges in this industry because of the types of licensing laws that are state mandated.  Anyone who has a stake in early childhood education should be aware of what these guidelines are. This extends beyond the directors, teachers, and support personnel.  Parents, grandparents and truly the community at large would benefit from being aware of state standards and how we measure up to the rest of the nation.  I’ve included a link below for anyone interested in perusing our South Dakota state guidelines, which if you’re not familiar, cover everything from structural requirements, to water temperature, to training for staff.  It is an interesting read I think too, for anyone who has ever heard from an in-home daycare that they don’t want to become registered because it is “too difficult,” or the rules are too stringent.  Rather than accepting this response, parents who are considering an unregistered versus a registered daycare should see the guidelines for themselves and make that judgement call.  It can also create dialogue with an unregistered provider as to the specific guidelines their in-home daycare doesn’t meet.

In early childhood education, there are certain requirements that facilities must be staffed to meet student to teacher ratios.  It is vitally important to meet these ratios to ensure the quality of experience for students and staff.  A center may struggle to meet these ratios for many of the same reasons mentioned with the potential for overtime. Staff absences, trying to fill an open position, lack of substitutes, or if the center doesn’t have limits on how long children can attend the program per day all contribute to a risk for being over-ratio.  In South Dakota, our student to teacher ratio varies by age.  For zero to two years old, it’s one teacher- five students.  For three to five years old, it’s one teacher- ten students.  For ages six to twelve, it is one teacher- fifteen students.  When a parent walks into a center and sees ten two year olds with one teacher, they should be alarmed.  When an assistant instructor is new to teaching and they are asked to run a circle time for twenty minutes with twenty children while their lead teacher makes a personal phone call, that is wrong.  All employees are supposed to read the state standards, but in many cases the standards aren’t reviewed with them, or the employee is afraid that they will lose their position if they say anything to a supervisor.

I heard a story the other day from someone who went to pick up her newly adopted grandchild from preschool for the first time. Her story described a large, well-reputed center in our area.  When she entered the classroom, she called out to her grandson who came to her.  The teachers greeted her.  When she turned to sign her grandson out, she realized her grandchild’s last name had not been legally changed yet and she couldn’t remember how to spell it.  It was ONLY at this moment that the instructors asked to see her ID and check it against their approved pick up list.  This is a huge error, one that is too frequent among child care staff.  The state mandates that IDs must be checked the first time an alternate pick up occurs, but regardless it is the best practice to help ensure that our students are taken safely from our care.

I think that it is vital for the progression of early childhood education in our state to accept that these problems are not, about “this center,” or “that center.”  These issues are not about “in-home,” versus “school district,” versus “centers.” These problems are within our workforce, they are within the lack of professionalism in our management, and at the very core of how we are operating our facilities as a community.  These problems are stemming from disinterest in the quality of care and education in our state from our community at large.  Early childhood education can’t be only a day-time place holder for our children which we give little or no thought to.  It is important to advocate for change, because of what we can become, and how we can achieve for our youngest community members.

Thank you for tuning in to Early Education Plantation and as always, remember to comment, connect, and cultivate change!

More information on licensing requirements: http://dss.sd.gov/childcare/licensing/

More information on the 2015 Market Rate Survey: http://dss.sd.gov/docs/childcare/final_report.pdf