The importance of early childhood education to the state and nation’s futures has taken center stage recently, with Governor Dayton and President Obama proposing funding to provide more young children with stimulating early learning environments. The U.S. Department of Education also just released a report showing the need for high-quality public preschool education options across the nation.

Gera JacobsTo prepare for this increased focus on early learning, join MREA and Dr. Gera Jacobs, who will be the keynote speaker at MREA’s 2015 Annual Conference, “Great Beginnings: When Learning Starts Early, Inspires and Applies.”

Dr. Jacobs, immediate past president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), will focus on the standards for early learning programs and how children learn best. She will discuss why high quality early learning is one of the most promising prospects for overcoming the achievement and opportunity gaps facing our schools today.

Chair of the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines Panel that was responsible for writing the preschool standards for South Dakota, Dr. Jacobs is a professor of early childhood education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. She is co-author of nationally recognized books on helping children meet standards in developmentally appropriate ways and has also taught preschool, kindergarten, and elementary grades. A sought-after national speaker, Dr. Jacobs is also a prolific researcher.

The Annual Conference, Nov. 15-17 at Cragun’s Resort near Brainerd, will offer an array of breakouts for teachers, administrators, and school board members. Plan now to join or bring a team from your school, and look for registration to open this summer.

Also this week, check out NAEYC’s national Week of the Young Child™, which is an annual celebration of early learning, young children, their teachers and families.