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Teachers have powerful effect on young children

February 03, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — Spicy pepper jack cheese and apple slices made all the difference in Lisa Murphy's life.

The keynote speaker at Saturday's sixth annual Early Childhood Education Conference, Murphy shared with nearly 400 Imperial Valley educators the impact they can have on children's lives. She revealed the powerful effect her own preschool teacher had on her when the teacher took the time to find out Murphy's favorite snack and prepare it for her.

"Never underestimate the impact you can have on a child," Murphy told the audience.

The conference, sponsored by Imperial Valley College, Imperial County Child Development Training Consortia and the California Department of Education, aims to improve the quality of care for young children, said Sue Tally, Imperial County Office of Education child development services director and consortia member.

Held at IVC, the conference featured workshops, training and a book fair for early childhood educators from both public and private programs and businesses in the Imperial Valley.

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"It's an opportunity for the whole (child-care) community to come together," Tally said.

Organizing a conference and inviting workshop instructors and presenters from all over the state to the Imperial Valley was an important goal for the event's organizing consortia.

"We wanted to bring something to them (early childhood educators) locally, especially for those in family day care who can't afford to go away," said consortia member Magda Franco of United Families Inc.

Each year, the conference gets bigger as new attendees and many returning participants register, Franco said.

Given throughout the day were workshops in areas ranging from first and second language development in the classroom to practical business and tax tips for family child-care providers.

Providing early childhood educators with good training is crucial, Tally said.

A child's experiences during the first five years of life will influence that person until they die, Tally said.

Those first years are "a window of opportunity that has been underestimated" in the past, Tally explained.

"Parents need to realize we're not just providing custodial care or baby-sitting their children while they (parents) are at work or school," Tally said.

Murphy, co-owner of an education consulting firm and family child-care center in Carlsbad, espouses a child-centered teaching philosophy that encourages exploration and individuality.

Her belief in the importance of childhood compels Murphy "to make sure educators are given the tools they need to bring this (child-centered environment) into their own environment."

Murphy's passion and belief in early childhood education won her praise from those in attendance, including Lisa Rodriguez, 27, of El Centro.

"She was very inspiring," Rodriguez said.

Shortly after the keynote address, Rodriguez was looking forward to the rest of the conference.

"It's just beginning and already I think it will teach me a lot," Rodriguez said.

Working in child care for the past four months, Rodriguez is majoring in early childhood education at IVC. Among the workshops Rodriguez planned to attend Saturday was one on day-care licensing because she's considering one day opening a day-care center in her home.

"I would like to learn anything that has to do with kids. I want to get experience," Rodriguez said.

Staff Writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-3442.

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