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September 24, 2015

September 24, 2015
Contact: Helen Jane Hodges, Director of Public Engagement, (434) 797.8887

Early Learning Symposium brings high quality training to region

DANVILLE AND PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY – Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania will host the 4th annual Early Learning Symposium on Saturday, September 26, 2015, from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. Record attendance is anticipated, with childcare professionals from private childcare centers, family home providers, the Virginia Preschool Initiative, and both Danville and Pittsylvania County Head Start programs. Over one hundred and forty participants are expected. “Local preschool teachers will receive five hours of high quality training to support their effectiveness in the classroom. Working with young children requires special skills and these special teachers deserve our support,” says Ann Vandervliet Stratton, executive director of Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania.

“Five years ago, there were no star rated childcare centers in Danville or Pittsylvania County. Today, the state participation rate in the Virginia Star Quality Initiative is 8%. In the region, the participation rate is 22%. In Danville and Pittsylvania County, 35% of all eligible programs are participating. In the private childcare category, 85% of eligible programs in Danville and Pittsylvania County participate. This year, we plan to celebrate the community’s commitment to quality childcare,” adds Vandervliet Stratton.

A core strategy of Smart Beginnings is to advance the quality of care provided for children birth to age 8. The Symposium contributes significantly to that goal by making professional development for early care providers locally accessible and affordable.

Mr. Ron Mohl, a leader in the education industry, will provide the opening keynote address, “The Power of Purpose.” By focusing on the importance of play in the learning process, Mr. Mohl helps educators enrich curricula in the areas of language development, math, science, music and diversity. Currently serving as Lead Educational Presenter for Lakeshore Learning Materials, Mr. Mohl has over 15 years of experience in the education industry and is a frequent presenter to school districts, public and private institutions, Head Start programs, and military bases across the country.

Other sessions will include Unlocking the Power of Blocks, the Push and Pull of Creating Creators, I Like to Move It, Move It, Make It and Take It for Infants and Toddlers, and Laying a Firm Preschool Foundation.

The mission of Smart Beginnings is to ensure that all children are ready for success in school and in life. Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania is one of eighteen school readiness coalitions in Virginia. For more information, call 797-8887 or email

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