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Impactful 2024 Early Learning Event Celebrates Diversity

Panel Highlights Importance of Diverse Voices in Children’s Literature

Attendees seated at table

A capacity crowd of 300 educators attended this year’s Early Learning conference, participating in 30 sessions that addressed a wide range of topics.

The Hilton Arden West Hotel in Sacramento was abuzz with energy and excitement last Saturday as the Early Learning Department of the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) hosted its annual conference for educators, care providers, and Expanded Learning staff. Exemplifying SCOE’s emphasis on providing quality training for early learning and care professionals, 300 eager participants enjoyed enriching sessions, engaging discussions, and inspiring speakers—all focused on the theme of “Early Learning: At the Heart of It All.”

Attendees came away from the event feeling empowered, inspired, and equipped with new ideas and resources to enrich their early learning environments. The conference wasn’t just informative; it celebrated early learning’s profound impact and highlighted the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion in every facet of education. Participants were reminded that prioritizing the needs and experiences of all young children paves the way for a brighter, more equitable future for generations to come.

Topics Help Educators Empower Early Learners

A keynote presentation was delivered by a distinguished panel of authors who celebrated diverse voices through the lens of children’s literature. The presentation was one of the highlights of the event, emphasizing the importance of representation in literature and highlighting how powerful storytelling can shape young minds, fostering empathy and understanding.

Conferencegoers had the opportunity to choose from an array of 30 sessions on a wide range of topics, including literacy, building resilience, creating equitable environments, and using innovative approaches to teach math through art experiences. Each session contributed to the overarching theme of diversity, equity, and inclusion, providing valuable insights and practical strategies for supporting young learners from diverse backgrounds.

“Gathering early learning and care educators from a multitude of settings is vital as they bring so much experience and expertise to share with each other,” said Julie Montali, Ph.D., SCOE Executive Director of Early Learning. “Participants were able to choose from a large number of unique sessions to support their particular interests and needs. Common to all sessions was an emphasis on creative ways to empower our youngest learners, which was highlighted in the feedback we have received.”

In addition to the wealth of knowledge shared during the sessions, participants received two children’s books—another resource to help them promote early literacy and cultural appreciation in their classrooms and the community.

During lunch, educators had the opportunity to make professional contacts and build camaraderie. Talented author Orlando “Zeps” Molina also wowed the audience with his unique, on-the-spot storytelling. Zeps is known for his “Rhymosaurs” books that make life lessons fun for children by mixing dinosaurs with hip-hop flare.

Early Learning Department Resources

Quality training helps early learning and care professionals deliver rich learning experiences that help stimulate healthy brain growth. A list of professional learning opportunities offered by the Early Learning Department throughout the school year is part of SCOE’s Professional Learning Registration System that connects educators with a wide variety of training. To learn about next year’s Early Learning Conference when it is announced, or to inquire about on-site support opportunities, technical assistance, or other resources offered by the department, email

Panelists speaking

A panel of authors delivered a keynote presentation, emphasizing the importance of representation in literature.

Wide photo of attendees at tables

The lunch break was an opportunity for educators to make professional contacts and build camaraderie.

Orlando “Zeps” Molina speaking to seated attendees

Author Orlando “Zeps” Molina (right) wowed attendees with his unique, on-the-spot storytelling.

Seated attendees smiling

Attendees participated in a wide range of informative and inspiring sessions.