During the three days of the conference, we encountered a style of being together that changed each day. The plenary session presentations given by Lella, Amelia, and Carolyn included: “The Image of the Child as a Citizen” “Provocations and Partnerships: Our Long and Meaningful Relationship with the Reggio Emilia Approach” “Progettazione as a Strategy of Thoughts and Actions” “Teachers as Researchers”. George Forman shared “The Child as a Scientist”. The following comments reflect richness and spirit of the presentations by our colleagues:
“My impressions were that it is challenging but so important to advocate for children’s rights in a society that is so focused on academic preparation and personal achievement. This conference was re-invigorating for us as a school, because within our community we are fortunate enough to have a lot of support in early childhood education however the focus is based on assessments. Shifting the focus on the competencies of young children in our community is a next step for our community.”
“I was absolutely inspired by the content of this conference!”
“I enjoyed the majority of the presentations, especially the new video on what it means to be a citizen for young people in REGGIO.”
At the end of the first day, NAREA was pleased to honor George Forman with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Lella and Amelia sharing memories of working with George in the early years followed a heartfelt message from Carla Rinaldi. Three Lifetime Achievement Award winners sat down with Margie Cooper for a conversation surrounding their work together. George, Carolyn, and Lella agreed to be video taped while they reflected on working together on The Hundred Languages of Children.
The following days were highlighted by encounters with the Exhibit, held in the beautiful New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. This was combined with the ability to meet in affinity groups and view a video from New Mexico Wonder of Learning: “New Mexico’s Journey with the Reggio Approach: Stories from the Classroom.” In addition, local Native American artists shared their culture and their talents in a variety of participatory ateliers. Participants worked with clay while learning about native pottery, listened intently to a young illustrator as he reflected on his culture, life and work, and interacted with native materials in a weaving experience.
Throughout the conference, attendees took advantage of Hotel Albuquerque’s beautiful grounds during lunchtime to connect with like -minded individuals. From groups practicing yoga to small groups of educators holding discussions at tables, lunchtime was a valuable time to bond.
The conference concluded with a reception held at the Exhibit venue which featured a video of highlights and reflections and a festive local dance presentation. The NAREA board and staff would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Gigi Schroeder Yu, Oliva Natale, Baji Rankin, and to all the members of New Mexico Wonder of Learning Collaborative, the teachers and parents of Christina Kent Early Childhood Center, Rosalie Cooperative School of Young Children, New Mexico School for the Deaf, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Farmington, and Santa Fe Early Childhood Programs, UNM Taos, Kids Campus for Early Learning, Inspire! Bilingual Early Learning Cente, and Early Learning Center of the United Way of Santa Fe County. Without their help, this professional development initiative would not have been possible. In addition, we would like to extend our deep appreciation to our presenters, Lella Gandini, Amelia Gambetti, Carolyn Pope Edwards, and George Forman, for their compelling contributions.