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Starting With a Bang: Day 1 Recap

Day 1 of the conference has arrived and sessions have officially begun! Today started off at registration where people arrived in droves this morning anxiously awaiting to register so they could get started.

NHSA Staff processed nearly 2,000 registrations today (!) and I am proud to work with this team of wonderful and diligent professionals as we strive to provide the Head Start field with an excellent conference experience!

I made a beeline to get a behind the scenes look at the Exhibit Hall, where NHSA’s brand new Action Center was up and running! Staff and volunteers were hard at work setting up materials for attendees to have their voices heard in on-the-spot advocacy campaigns (including selfies!). We also have an opportunity to fund the next generation of Head Start leaders through the Vanessa Rich Leadership fund. Be sure to stop to by the Head Start Expo to discover new products and services, speak with experts, and even meet celebrated authors.

The energy and enthusiasm of conference attendees has been truly special as we unite as a community to embark on the next generation of opportunity. As I listen in on sessions, I am continuously amazed and humbled by the passion of Head Start leaders, teachers, and educators.

Today’s Opening Session felt very much like a family gathering! It was wonderful to have Nashville’s first female mayor, Mayor Megan Berry speak about poverty and about how real power means waking up every day to make a difference in someone else’s life for the better. This sentiment is at the very core of Head Start!

“We cannot talk about prosperity unless we talk about the fact that we must lift everyone up.” - Mayor Barry

Our field always come together and rallies in support of NHSA advocacy efforts and today was no different: the community’s support is essential to our advocacy work and enabling our strong, collective voice to be heard in Washington! This is why Dollar Per Child is so critical and why we are always so, so appreciative of community support.

We had an engaging panel and conversations in early learning, featuring Susan Magsamen, Annie Murphy Paul, Linda Espinosa, Anne Cunningham, Jerri Daniels, and Jack Maypole. They had a lively discussion on how our national student community is more diverse than ever and how vital it is that we provide educators and families with the customized resources they need to ensure that all students are given an equal opportunity to succeed from the start. Being fresh off the Head Start Hackathon where we thought of innovative ideas for the future of Head Start, one statement that resonated with me was: “You must be open to new ideas and be respectful of cultural capital.”

We also launched Strive for 5, part of our exciting new collaboration Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The National Association for Family Child Care, and Too Small to Fail! Strive for 5 is a unique early educator program designed to promote children’s early brain and language development.

Whew! Such an exciting day. Can’t wait for Wednesday to celebrate Head Start’s birthday with all of you!