Announcing Workshop Sessions & Presenters for 'Arts from the Start: An Exploration of Early Learning'

We are pleased to announce workshop sessions and presenters for Arts from the Start: An Exploration of Early Learning! Young Audiences Arts for Learning's 2020 National Conference, to be presented in partnership with Young Audiences of Louisiana, will be held March 25-27 in New Orleans. Arts from the Start will bring together thought leaders from across both the YA Network and the field of arts-in-education to address role of the arts in early childhood learning and development. The following sessions will be presented on Thursday, March 26, at NOPSI Hotel. 

  • Sheila Womble, Executive Director at Arts for Learning Miami, will lead a presentation on music, art, the and social emotional development in children in Florida's Head Start Classrooms.
  • Jenny James, of Young Audiences of Louisiana, will lead share lessons learned from using evaluation for early childhood program improvement. James will also lead a session centered around equitable access and community-based arts programs.
  • Cynthia Pepper, a teaching artist from Young Audiences of Northern California, will share dance hacks for busy classroom teachers.
  • Debora Hansen, who spent 30 years as the Arts Educator Director at Delaware's Department of Education, will utilize the media if printmaking to investigate the processes of writing and illustrating.
  • Gail Zarren, a program director at Young Audiences of Massachusetts, will lead a presentation around the role arts integration has in serving children who face poverty and homelessness.
  • Todd Shafer, a teaching artist and Curriculum Specialist from Young Audiences of Louisiana, will lead a presentation on using techniques for integrating the arts into classrooms during center time.
  • Paul King of the New York City Department of Education, alongside early childhood partner organizations, The Dance Education Laboratory at the 92nd Street Y, The New Victory Theater, Studio in A School, and Third Street Music School Settlement, will disciss the interplay between research and program design in professional learning and coaching.
  • Participants in the 2019 Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) will present the strategic projects they developed over the course of the year-long program. This session will be facillitated by Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education's Scott SikkemaDirector of Education, along with Mark Diaz, Associate Director of Education. 
  • YA-credentialed teaching artists Carrie Sue Ayvar, from Arts for Learning Miami, Molly Johnson, of Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania, and Quynn Johnson, with Young Audiences of Maryland, will lead a panel discussion illuminating their respectice pracrices as a means to exemplify the rigor and intent of the work which qualified them for YA's National Residency Teaching Artist Credential.
  • Timothy Bellevue, an Assistant Professor at Touro College, and Ja'nese Brooks-Galathe, a teaching artist and curriculum specialist from Young Audiences of Louisiana, will lead a panel discussion around STEAM and Kindergarden practice.


Head to to read detailed session descriptions and explore the conference agenda.

Lead presenter bios and a detailed schedule of  Thursday's workshop sessions will be published in the coming weeks - stay tuned!

Questions? Please contact Lauren Altschuler at

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