Session 3: Webinar

How are you improving experiences for young children who are culturally, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse? This session will highlight evidence for how a state early childhood system can support each young learner in achieving his or her full potential. Examples of how to use early learning guidelines/standards to support intentional and equitable approaches will be highlighted. The focus on environments, curricula, and classroom practices will include an example of how one state used data to evaluate and redirect their QRIS to more effectively support each young child.

*****Tuesday, June 24th from 2 pm to 4 pm EDT on-line*****
Presenter Biographies: 

Sam Oertwig, Ed. D., has been working for the past four years as the Director of School Implementation for FirstSchool, a PreK-3 school improvement initiative focused on improving the school experience of African American, Latino, and low income children. Before joining the FirstSchool project, Sam Oertwig served 25 years in public education as an elementary teacher, principal, director of elementary programs, and director of professional development. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise pertaining to quality education from both the teacher and administrative perspective. For the past twelve years, her work has focused on achieving educational equity for minority students by assisting teachers, schools, and districts to become more culturally proficient in practice and policy, and she has been recognized at the local, state, and national level as a leader in this area. Dr. Oertwig has also done extensive work facilitating the development of professional learning communities and cultures of collaborative inquiry that use data and research to improve practice.

Sharon Ritchie’s participation in the field of education over the past 35 years has included  long experiences as a teacher, program director, teacher educator and researcher. She has taught all ages from 3 year- olds to graduate students and has worked in special, regular and gifted education. She has played multiple roles in work with elementary schools, and public and private early childhood programs at local, state, and national levels. She was on the UCLA faculty preparing elementary educators for 11 years, coordinated the accreditation study for NAEYC and co-wrote their Self Study Materials. She has been the project director for several national studies examining children in early learning settings. For the past 9 years, she has been the Director of FirstSchool at the FPG Child Development Institute; UNC-Chapel Hill. FirstSchool is a  PreK-3 Public School reform initiative committed to school success, particularly focused on African American, Latino, and low income children. The work is dedicated to seeing continuous improvement as the mindset  and collaborative inquiry as the process for growth and change, and reform  driven by high-quality instructional practices, and the effective use of data and research.

Pre-Session Assignments: 
  1. Please read Being Black is Not a Risk Factor: A Strengths-Based Look at the State of the Black Child. From the foreword by Barbara Bowman of the Erikson Institute to a closing essay by David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor: A Strengths-Based Look at the State of the Black Child is designed to challenge the prevailing discourse about black children – one which overemphasizes limitations and deficits and does not draw upon the considerable strengths, assets and resilience demonstrated by black children, families and communities. The report, which supports the efforts of policymakers, advocates, professional development providers, principals, teachers, family members, and others, weaves together three critical elements: 1) Essays from experts that focus on using the strengths of black children, families and communities to improve outcomes for black children; 2) “Points of Proof” from organizations that serve not as exceptions, but as examples of places where black children and families are succeeding; and 3) Data points that indicate how black children and families are doing across a range of measures. This publication may be downloaded at Identify the implications of the content, data, and resources for quality early childhood work at the state level, at the program level, at the classroom level, and for implementing partners (trainers, technical assistance providers, faculty members). Think specifically about the implications for your state. At the beginning of the webinar we’ll ask each team to share their insights about the take-away messages from this publication.
  2. As a team you have been collecting ideas about resources, models, and strategies from the first two segments of the Learning Table. As part of the June webinar, we’re asking you to begin to formalize your ideas into a state plan. For the next three webinars, your planning time should emphasize next steps and how to operationalize them. During the webinar we will ask each team to share one idea that they want to move forward with in their state.