SOURCE: Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference

Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference

April 06, 2015 16:51 ET

Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference to Honor Former Colorado First Lady Bea Romer, Dr. Joe Dodds

50th Anniversary of Head Start to Be Spotlighted April 17-18 During Regional Event

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - Apr 6, 2015) - The 2015 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference will mark the 50th anniversary of Head Start by honoring "two individuals who have been invaluable in launching the program in Colorado, " according to Dr. Pamela K. Harris, president and chief executive officer of the Mile High Montessori Learning Centers (MHMLC). The honorees are former Colorado First Lady Bea Romer and Dr. Joe Dodds, professor emeritus in the School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver, who served as the director of the Denver Opportunity Head Start program in 1967.

"Head Start has provided quality comprehensive services to children and families for 50 years, setting the standard for early care and education programs," Harris said. "Over 31 million children from birth to age five years have been served across our country. Research shows that children who have participated in a Head Start program have higher pre-reading, pre-writing, and vocabulary and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college."

Head Start will be spotlighted during the conference's noon luncheons on Friday, April 17 and on Saturday, April 18. In addition to highlighting the evolution of the preschool program that began in 1965 as an eight-week demonstration project, Harris will also touch on the impact of the MHMLC.

"At Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers, we are celebrating 45 years of providing quality early care and education programs to more than 45,000 of our most vulnerable children, inspired by the Head Start model," Harris said.

According to the organizers, RMECC 2015 has received more than 2,300 registrations and is currently sold out on Friday with limited availability for Saturday. The two-day event, which incorporates ongoing learning opportunities for early childhood practitioners and also provides a forum for community advocates, aims to support and solidify the growing understanding of the importance of investing in our youngest children. Sponsored by The Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, the Denver Preschool Program and the Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado, the conference offers 16 professional development tracks and hundreds of workshops and exhibitors. RMECC 2015 takes place at the Colorado Convention Center; schedule information and workshop descriptions are available at

The opening of RMECC 2015 is set for 7:45 a.m. Friday, April 17. Keynote speaker Luis A Hernandez, Training & Technical Assistance Services (T/TAS) early childhood education specialist, is scheduled to address the group at 8:20 a.m. His topic will be "ECE Leadership in Our Times: Polishing Skills for a Changing World." Hernandez will also lead two breakout sessions on "The Fire Within: Rekindling Our Professional Passion," in English at 9:15 a.m. and in Spanish at 11:00 a.m.

Sonia Manzano, who for more than 30 years inspired, educated and delighted children and families as "Maria" on Sesame Street, will discuss "Walking the Bi-Cultural Tightrope and Education" during her keynote address at 8:20 a.m. Saturday, April 18. Following that presentation, Manzano will participate in a question-and-answer session from 9:15 to 10:45 a.m.