Welcome to the 9th NAREA Winter Conference, Constructing a Culture of Shared Values for Children and Childhood: Honoring Diversity, Differences, and Democracy. We extend our gratitude to our hosts, the Washington Collective, and to the children, families, and staff of the schools who will welcome us: Our Beginning, Hilltop Children’s Center, Pike Market Childcare & Preschool, Epiphany Early Learning Preschool, and the Early Learning Center on the Bellevue College Campus.
We also welcome and thank our colleagues from Reggio Emilia, Italy, Paola Cagliari and Ivana Soncini, as well as interpreter Jane McCall. It is through their sharing and exchange that we will build strong encounters with the values, philosophies, and experiences of Reggio Emilia’s municipal schools of childhood.
We wish to highlight our belief in and commitment to the value of embracing a shared vision for education, which cultivates the potential of all children and adults. Recognizing the ever-increasing number of programs for young children inspired by Reggio’s approach to life and education, we honor and encourage each program and every group of colleagues to invest in an ongoing approach that includes permanent study, research, collaboration, collegiality, innovation, transparency, uncertainty, and exchange.
In 2017, we had the privilege of offering many professional development opportunities: The 13th NAREA Summer Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Brick by Brick Series held biannually in several North American cities, the inaugural Alternative Narratives Series in New York, Boston, and DC, featuring Peter Moss, Paola Cagliari, and Marina Castagnetti, and the NAREA Tour of Schools before the 2017 NAEYC Conference in Atlanta. We celebrated 25 years of Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Emilia Exchange through the publication of the first in our Echoes series, Environment, Spaces, Relations.
Through our professional development projects, we encounter schools at varying points of their journey, willing to open their doors, share their work, and welcome the participation of visitors. This style of development has been introduced to all of us by the only “Reggio schools” of Reggio Emilia, Italy. To be continually encouraged to find our own unique identities as schools in different communities, worthy in our own identity, is to see how much the message of Reggio Emilia is based on attitudes of research and invention, rather than prescriptive dogma. Please enjoy the pleasure of thinking and wondering as we work together to construct a better future for our children, our communities, and ourselves. We hope this conference will serve as a vehicle for the evolution of our conversations and thinking together.
Together, we are empowering exceptional education.