The educators never stop learning at the Bertha Alyce School! Much like the children they teach, these educators never stop spreading their enthusiasm as they make new discoveries and grow in their abilities. With a culture emphasizing continuous professional development and collaboration, it is a natural next step that the educators of Bertha Alyce will now be educating professionals from across the nation.
Staff to Present Workshop at Fall Conference
Recognized by the JCC Association (JCCA) as an exemplar with the JCC movement, the Karol Musher STARS ECI program has now been invited to present at the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) conference this fall in Dallas. The DEC, a subdivision of the Council for Exceptional Children, is a national early childhood professional organization for special education and is the professional organization that disseminates the recommended practices in early childhood intervention and EC special education. Much like NAEYC standards for early childhood environments, the DEC's Recommended Practices guide the work of the Karol Musher STARS ECI Program, inspiring practitioners to move the needle forward in the field of early childhood intervention.
This conference session gives an overview of a Campus Collaboration partnership between Rice University's School Literacy and Culture program and the J's to implement and expand a literacy and story drama curriculum in ten classrooms, four of which are part of the STARS inclusion program. Rooted in the work and research of Vivian Paley and Patsy Cooper, The Rice School Literacy and Culture Project trains and educates early childhood teachers in the greater Houston area on topics related specifically to early literacy and constructivist learning. For the 2018-19 school year, Rice SLC and the J embarked on an inaugural campus collaborative project to coach and mentor a campus cohort, rather than individual educators, on this storytelling methodology.
Story Drama Increases Social Interaction
While implementing the curriculum, the STARS educators noted the wonderful (and sometimes surprising) developments using the Rice School Literacy and Culture approach in our inclusion classrooms. Through story drama, STARS educators successfully assisted children to initiate and extend positive social interactions with peers, which is one of the principles of quality guidance in early childhood special education. Further, the act of sharing in a group drama through a story acting literacy experience enabled STARS educators to employ peer-mediated intervention to bolster skills and learning, another hallmark of excellent practice in early childhood special education.
During the workshop presentation, participants at the DEC conference will understand the nature and model of the campus collaboration; learn and practice components of the story drama curriculum so practitioners can use them in their own environment; and reflect on research, anecdotal evidence, and potential adaptations for use with children in their programs. After participating in this DEC workshop, more early childhood special educators and interventionists will have story drama tools to enhance the peer-mediated interventions and practitioner-guided supports essential to enhancing child engagement and sustained positive social-interactions with peers.
Presenters and Contributors to the DEC International Conference Workshop are:
- Karen Capo, Rice SLC
- Faye Casell, Director of Curriculum & Instruction for the Bertha Alyce School
- Sharon Dworczak, Rice SLC mentor teacher
- Meagan Friedman, Director of the Bertha Alyce School
- Frieda Hoffer, STARS Teacher
- Emily Jones, STARS Teacher
- Michelle Muscat, STARS Teacher
- Meredith Sakowitz, STARS Teacher
- Andria Ward, Bertha Alyce School PreK Teacher
By presenting at this conference, members of the STARS inclusion teaching team, BAS administration, and Rice SLC faculty will share with and learn from nationally-recognized scholars in the field of early childhood special education. The teachers can't wait to share their practices with colleagues in Dallas, and later, these same educators will also present conference leanings to their BAS peers. From the infants to the educators serving them, there is a culture of lifelong learning at Bertha Alyce!