2024 Summer Mini Conference New Date!

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Teaching Preschool Partners and Gladstone Center for Children and Families are proud to present…

Centering Connection and Community in Early Learning, a mini-conference for Preschool and Kindergarten educators.

The Summer 2024 Mini Conference NEW DATE!


Date: Tuesday, June 25th


Time: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM


Location: Gladstone Center for Children and Families


18905 Portland Ave, Gladstone, OR 97027

Keynote Options

Vera Ahiyya: The Tutu Teacher

Vera Ahiyya was born in Germany and raised in El Paso, Texas with her wonderful mother and amazing grandparents. Originally a pre-med student, Vera realized her calling as an educator at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, where she majored in History and Psychology and earned her MA in Education. Vera has taught Kindergarten and first grade for the last 18 years in Austin, Boston, and Brooklyn. Vera’s online presence is dedicated to collaborating with other educators by spreading her vast knowledge and love of inclusive children’s books. Vera’s unwavering commitment to social justice and diversity is also the focal point of her professional development presentations for other educators. Vera lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Lonnell, and dog, Mozi.

She is the author of Rebellious Read Alouds, a professional development book for educators. She is also the author of You Have a Voice the KINDergarten series, and the Getting Ready series. Be sure to follow Vera’s journey on social media- @thetututeacher!

Stories from the field in preschool and kindergarten


Sarah MacPherson

Preschool Teacher in Parkrose School District

Sarah has taught in preschool and elementary classrooms since 2014. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Community Psychology and a Master’s degree in teaching. Sarah is inspired by the early childhood classrooms in Reggio Emilia. She believes that children arrive at school on the very first day filled with stories, theories, and questions that the world needs. She also believes school should not happen to children; school should happen because of them. In Sarah’s classroom, curriculum emerges in response to the specific children in the community. It is different every year because the children are different each year! Sarah finds joy in being immersed in inquiry with children.

Saumi Bonds

Kindergarten Teacher in Beaverton School District

Saumi is currently a Kindergarten teacher in Beaverton School District. She’s taught students ranging from Pre-Kindergarten to 2nd grade age in her eleven years of teaching and has loved each of those age groups. Her first eight years of teaching was in Texas, and included a two year transformative experience as a teacher leader in the Holdsworth Campus Leadership Program. Through the program she learned more about her own identity, confronted her internal biases and experienced what it means to be truly equitable as an educator. Saumi has always felt strongly about centering children and developing the whole child. Every child carries an abundance of brilliance with them and is ready to be heard and seen by the world.


Join us for a day of collaboration, exploration, and learning with early learning colleagues as we center connection and community building as responsive and inclusive approaches for work with young children. Dive into responsive children’s literature with the Tutu Teacher, Vera Ahiyya. Immerse yourself in moving stories of the growth of caring classroom communities with master teachers from the Beaverton and Parkrose school districts. Consider keynote perspectives through the lenses of inclusion, instruction, trauma-informed practices, and community resources. Head into the summer months with your brain full of energy, ideas, and inspiration.


  • Engaging keynote presentations
  • Topical breakout sessions
  • Classroom tours to inspire
  • Resource tables
  • Breakfast, lunch, and refreshments provided
  • Conference tote bag filled with goodies
  • Connection and collaboration


Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions will bring a collection of lenses to the Keynote Sessions. Each breakout session will be facilitated by a subject area expert. There will be opportunities to address your specific questions, supporting you in realizing connection and community through responsive practices in your early learning setting.

Responsive and Connecting Children’s Literature Breakouts

  • A closer look at responsive children’s literature
  • Inclusive children’s literature – sharing stories of disability
  • Responsive children’s literature at your local library
  • Incorporating children’s literature into K reading instruction


Centering Connection and Community with Asset-based Playful Inquiry Approaches Breakouts

  • A closer look at connection, community, and asset-based playful inquiry approaches
  • Asset-based playful inquiry approaches in K
  • Connection, community, and trauma-responsive practices
  • Playful learning and materials exploration in inclusive settings

Registration Form

Registration is closed.

April 1 – May 31: Early Bird Registration at $175.

June 1 – Date of Conference: $225.

Student Rate: With Valid Student ID: $50.

For cancellation, email connect@teachingpreschoolpartners.org

Last day for cancellation June 12th, 2024 by 5PM PST

Where can I start?

If you are eager and excited to explore playful learning approaches before our time together, check out these resource collections!

Resource Library