"Children rise to the expectations of the adults in their environment, whether it's negative or positive."
- Dr. Rosemarie Allen
The second Early Childhood Advantage Symposium - organized by the Great Start for Great Futures Coalition - showcased nationally known author, researcher and professor, Dr. Rosemarie Allen, as the keynote speaker. Her presentation, "Implicit Bias: From Awareness to Positive Change" detailed how bias (see sidebar) has an impact on relationships, communication, classroom teaching and students.
Using personal stories, Dr. Allen led Symposium participants (nearly 500 early childhood educators from 54 preschools, administrators and Stark County community leaders) to develop a deeper appreciation of the importance of talking about race, bias in general and seeing that "being aware is halfway there".
Many commented how Dr. Allen helped them see the importance of "owning their own bias" and that "we are all biased - it's stopping, recognizing and evaluating that matters."
Dr. Allen addressed the importance of learning about cultural differences and how they may lead to miscommunication. "Dr. Allen told us it's ok to talk about race" said one participant, and that "we need to take time to get to know people and their culture in order to better understand them."
The 2019 Symposium also featured two additional speakers: Melissa McClain of Akron Children's Hospital who spoke on Trauma in Early Learning and David Kisor with Growing Sound who presented Songs for Emerging Character Strengths.