COE-UF contingent makes splash at inaugural early childhood symposium
Early childhood faculty researchers, postdoctoral fellows and students from the College of Education and other UF colleges associated with UF’s Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies formed a substantial presence last week at an inaugural symposium in Charleston, S.C., focused on supporting young children and their families.
Some 40 members of the Gator Nation were among an estimated 300 scholars, practitioners and advocates participating in the Tri-County Cradle-to-Career Collaborative’s Early Childhood Symposium Nov. 11 in Charleston. The University of Florida was one of the sponsors of the event, which carried the theme: “Mobilize to Move the Dial on Early Childhood Indicators.”
COE alumna Anita Zucker (BAE ’72), a business and civic leader in the Charleston area and a major supporter of UF’s early childhood efforts, chairs the TCCC board of directors and invited scholars from her UF alma mater to participate in the symposium. Just last month, Zucker, a former teacher and the current CEO and board chair of The InterTech Group, a Charleston-based global manufacturing conglomerate, provided the leadership gift of $5 million to bolster a comprehensive initiative at UF focused on optimizing early childhood development and learning experiences. UF’s Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, based in the College of Education, has been named for Zucker in recognition of her generosity.
COE professors Patricia Snyder and Maureen Conroy, the director and co-director, respectively, of the Anita Zucker CEECS, helped set the stage for the symposium conversations by highlighting evidence-informed practices and strategies that “move the dial” on early childhood indicators. UF alumnus David Lawrence Jr., president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation of Miami and the namesake of the UF endowed chair in early childhood studies held by Snyder, was the keynote luncheon speaker.
Early childhood specialists from the Tri-County Charleston area and across South Carolina facilitated other discussions on vital topics including: assessing for school readiness; supporting families with young children; providing health and mental health services for young children; early intervention for children with disabilities; and the role of higher education, government and community agencies in supporting young children and their families.
“We were so honored to partner with Anita Zucker and the TCCC in their inaugural Early Childhood Symposium. We look forward to future symposia and ongoing collaborations,” Snyder said.