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.

Worried About Your Little Worrier? A Guide to Manage Kid’s Anxiety & Stress


As a child, I was labelled a ‘worrywart.’
Children need assistance and support from their peers and authority figures to help them overcome unnecessary stress—and let them get back to being young!

My blog this week is located again at Fractus Learning as a guest writer.

Click here for  a resource guide for worried youths.

P.S. Teresa Ann Power- author of ABC Yoga for Kids left a comment on my blog at Fractus- how cool is that?

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Fabienne D.

The Needs and Concerns of the Prescholar


First I would like to announce the winner of our giveaway! Across Linkedin, Facebook, and our site, Wendy Conrad has been selected!  Wendy will receive the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell. I am so glad that Wendy finds value in the blog as a conversational tool for her students!


I have traveled to Mexico before and always make it a point to visit a prescholar.

The prescholar I visit has changed every year depending upon various factors. In 2015 the prescholar I visited the year before had been destroyed by a hurricane, and the administrator told me it had put a tremendous strain on the other local facilities to try to help the displaced children.

Sometimes I am able to contact the administrators before I go, and other times I have hopped into a cab and said, “Take me to a preschool!”

Our preschool collects items over the year for me to deliver. We ask students what they would like for preschoolers from Mexico to know about them. Our care packages include a variety of items,  information about our area, and stuffed toys that represent local animals. We order extra bilingual books from Scholastic during the year and have even taken Indian fry bread mix for them to sample.

The streets of downtown Cabo San Lucas are busy and bright, with a light dusting of powdery dirt.  The tour companies are working hard, welcoming you from their kiosks and offering tours to El Arco or zip lines. The hosts and hostesses beckon for you to come to their restaurant, and everyone has “the best tacos” in town.

The palm trees are tall, the streets are alive with sound, and the air is a humid 89 degrees.

Further in are the blocks and blocks of storage unit shops, each metal door representing a “small business owner.” From  9:00 am to 9:30 pm these doors will be open with a kaleidoscope rainbow of colors. The shopkeepers  will be calling to tourists, “The price is right, senorita!” and “Almost free for you today!” I wonder where they live, if their families have one of the small haciendas further in, or how many of them live in shanties like chicken coops in the arroyos. I wonder if they had to ride the public bus to work, how long their trip was, and where their children are.

There are signs that read “No exploitacion infantils” which go into further detail to caution you from buying things from children. Purchasing items from children on the street perpetuates pulling children from school to help support the family. A little boy of about eight approaches me to sell me shells and I say in what I hope was a kind but firm way, “No gracias, you should be in school.”

Closer now to real life and further from the malls, marina, and tourist wonderlands, I am closer to Mexico. There are three prescholars clustered at an intersection, the fourth corner occupied by a hollowed out cement building surrounded by broken glass. Abandoned by all assumptions of the Americanos zipping by in taxis, but if you look closely, people live there.

The prescholar I choose is small and plain surrounded by a tall metal fence. I ring the bell and wait.

“Buenos Dias!”  Chirps a slight Mexican woman with a big smile. I hand her my note courtesy of Google translator explaining in Spanish that I am a preschool owner from South Dakota, and that if it is all right I would like to come inside and see their school and give them a few gifts.

She reads over my letter. The look on her face can only be described as someone who is fluent in Spanish trying to read Chinese. Thanks a lot Google. She smiles and leaves to get their administrator.

I am greeted next by Victoria. By the end of our conversation and the tour of the school, I know we are cut from the same cloth of dedication to early childhood education. While we might be “professionalism twins,” and “leadership sisters,” you can still tell us apart, as I am about twelve inches taller than her, and she is just a little tanner than me.

I could tell another story about their school. A large fenced in courtyard with AstroTurf was covered by green canopies to block out the Baja desert sun. All of the children were in white polo shirts with either shorts or skirts in navy blue. What impacted me most was the even split of male to female teachers, and of course the friendly, inquisitive children.

Victoria graciously received the gifts from our preschool. She then looked at me frankly and said, “Why us?” I said, “Because I knew fate would lead me where I was supposed to go.” Her eyes filled with tears and she replied, “Muchas gracias.”

While random acts of kindness in foreign countries are nice, you don’t have to travel abroad to help high risk communities with early childhood education. You can donate to organizations such  as the NAEYC. There is also plenty of need in our own communities.  Centers that offer extended hours, weekend care, infant care, and care for children with mild illnesses are huge needs not only in Rapid City, but South Dakota as well and across the Midwest. Lack of flexible, quality care and education affects children and their families.  In our community we have young parents who can’t complete general education diplomas, attend evening classes for advanced degrees, some aren’t even able to make it to work due to limited hours of child care availability.  You can also help by donating to centers in your community who have needs. An example of this is Dear One’s Daycare Center in Rapid City that serves families who are homeless.  They are always looking for donated items. Early childhood educators can also partner with organizations like Starting Strong Rapid City to help provide full day care for low income families.

What are the needs and concerns of the prescholar? They are not so different from our own. They want health and safety for their students. They want a community who understands and supports the importance of early childhood education. They want to help their student’s families by giving their children a fun place to play and learn when they have to be apart.

Helping Focused Kids Who Need Individual Learning Space and Time


My blog for this week is located again at Fractus Learning!

It contains four ideas to help focused and meticulous preschoolers learn through individual learning space and a little more time. Head on over to Fractus and check it out!


Thank you for reading Early Education Plantation! Comment. Connect. Cultivate Change.