On Sept. 24, the Cherry Creek School District’s Extended Child Services (ECS) department held its first-ever ECS Fall Conference. More than 300 employees who work in the district’s Kindergarten Enrichment and Before- and After-School programs attended the daylong event, which was held at Sky Vista Middle School. By all accounts, it was a resounding success.
“It was so beneficial to me,” said Nicole Lloyd-Sullivan, a kindergarten enrichment specialist at Timberline Elementary. “It was so cool to have a full day of training that pertained just to what we do.”
Participants first heard from a powerful keynote speaker, Dr. Rosemarie Allen, a professor at Metropolitan State University and an early childhood expert. She set the tone for the conference, talking about the importance of Extended Child Services and how important those adults are in shaping and empowering children.
Employees then attended three different workshop sessions. Some were led by Cherry Creek Schools teachers, while others featured experts from outside organizations such as the Tri-County Health Department, Children’s Hospital, RAFT, Kaiser Permanente and Project Learning Tree. Speakers covered a variety of topics. Some focused on engaging students with fun and educational activities. For example, there were sessions on famous artists, bugs and butterflies, reader’s theater and “messy play.” Other sessions focused on children’s health and well-being, educational inclusiveness and best practices for handling challenging behaviors.
“My focus this year is on strengthening social-emotional support for children and building more positive behavior techniques for our staff,” said Sarah Conley, ECS coordinator for Cherry Creek Schools.
Lloyd-Sullivan says she has already shared new strategies for behavior management with her colleagues and sent new ideas for healthy snacks to her students’ parents.
It’s all part of providing parents with quality child care options. Cherry Creek Schools offers Qualistar-rated Before- and After-School programs at all elementary schools, and Kindergarten Enrichment programs at elementary schools that do not have full-day kindergarten. The programs offer students homework help and a rich variety of engaging and educational activities, from creative expression and dramatic play, to science and technology, to arts and crafts.
“Our students are lifelong learners. We don’t want learning to stop when the bell rings,” Conley said.
The same goes for ECS staff members. They are required to take continuing education or professional development courses, such as the ones offered at the ECS Fall Conference. The district offers many individual classes for employees, but Conley said this was the first time CCSD hosted a full day conference. She explained that offering so many courses in one place at one time made it easier for employees to meet those requirements.
“To get it all in one day – that’s huge,” agreed Lloyd-Sullivan, who has two children of her own and is attending college, in addition to working full-time. She said the conference allowed her to accomplish in a single day what would otherwise have taken two or three weeks.
Lloyd-Sullivan is one of 550 ECS employees who serve more than 8,000 students in the Kindergarten Enrichment and Before- and After-School programs. For more information about those programs, visit http://www.cherrycreekschools.org/ExtendedChildServices/Pages/ECS.aspx.