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2020 Academy Schedule at a Glance


Monday, July 20

11:00 AM - 11:45 AM

Opening Session

Head Start's History with Barb Haxton

Head Start has a rich and interesting history that has, over the years, given us a solid foundation as our nation's premier program for it's most vulnerable children.  Tune into this session to see and hear about that history, and the background of 55 years of service.

12:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Using the Head Start Management Systems Wheel:  Guiding Questions During a Pandemic

This session will focus on how this version of the management systems wheel can assist Head Start leaders in their strategic decision making efforts and in moving staff forward during a crisis through the use of exploratory questions that address the 12 management systems.  This highly interactive session will explore, identify, and discuss how management systems can help programs be more agile, flexible and effective in a virtual environment and for future programming.  

Preparing your staff for Challenging Conversations with Families Part 1 with Brandi Thacker

Head Start and Early Head Start program staff and families partner to nurture children to be healthy, ready for school and successful in life. Trusting and respectful, goal-oriented relationships between staff and parents are essential to ensure the healthy growth and development of young children. As you guide your staff in building relationships with families, you may find that some topics are challenging to bring up or to discuss with families. Supporting your staff in addressing these challenging topics with families can be a way to strengthen relationships and build trust. You can prepare for these conversations by reflecting in advance on what to say and what not to say.

How to be a Courageous Leader during times of crisis with Nina Paddock

As your Head Start community works through the changes and upheaval to our programs and communities this will be a unique opportunity to reassess, reflect and lead your program to new levels of success.  Being a transparent, honest, and focused-driven leader during this time is invaluable.  

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

The Pandemic Programmatic and Community Update

This session will focus on how Head Start grantees can use the Pandemic Programmatic and Community Update to describe and document the effects of a pandemic on program operations.  Programs will explore how community operations, services, and families have been impacted by a pandemic through an interactive dialogue.

Preparing your staff for Challenging Conversations with Families Part 2 with Brandi Thacker

Head Start and Early Head Start program staff and families partner to nurture children to be healthy, ready for school and successful in life. Trusting and respectful, goal-oriented relationships between staff and parents are essential to ensure the healthy growth and development of young children. As you guide your staff in building relationships with families, you may find that some topics are challenging to bring up or to discuss with families. Supporting your staff in addressing these challenging topics with families can be a way to strengthen relationships and build trust. You can prepare for these conversations by reflecting in advance on what to say and what not to say.

Keeping your team motivated . . . remotely with Tammy Jelinek

In our ever changing environment, one of the many new things staff are learning and adapting to is how to communicate in ways that they haven't had to in the past.  They are building their skill base and becoming more confident and comfortable with using technology and finding other ways to get the job done.  As a leader your job in helping to keep your staff motivated and focused during a time of unconventional communication is a new normal.  Let's explore best practices and practical solutions to new expectations.

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Walk away informed of what DRS means and how to be prepared with Keri Allred

Being prepared and informed is key in understaning the Designation Renewal System.  This session will give you insight on how to lead your program through DRS to strengthen your procedures and staff's confidence.  You will hear first hand on programmatic challenges and strategies to rise above the complicaitons of DRS.

Building a successful Child Care Partnership Program with Becky Strasser

Child Care Partnerships are a unique opportunity to provide a seamless and comprehensive full day, full year service to children and families.  Learn how to partner successfully with child care programs to provide resources and support the delivery of comprehensive services that benefit children and families.  In this session you be hearing from staff and an EHS partner to help you understand how to engage in early and ongoing conversations, ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clearly specified and a mutually beneficial partnership is established.

Program Governance:  Governing bodies are more important than ever! with Tammy Jelinek

Program's governing bodies have a legal and fiscal responsibility in overseeing Early Head Start and Head Start programming. As these entities continue to use ongoing monitoring results and data on school readiness goals to conduct their responsibilities - they are also charged with helping programs react to our ever changing environments.  This session will remind you of current governing bodies structures and responsibilities, while exploring creative and effective new ways to enhance communication and effectiveness in our continuous improvement (and continually changing) environment.


Tuesday, July 21

10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

Get Cooking and Moving with Cooking Matters!

Participate virtually in a live, child-friendly snack demonstration and a fun exercise to share with families, or use in a classroom.  Attendees will get a taste of a Cooking Matters lesson about picky eating and learn about other Cooking Matters offerings.  Walk away with ideas and tools to engage parents in creating healthy environments.  Cooking Matters teach parents and caregivers to shop for and cook healthy meals – building a world where healthy eating choices are available for everyone. Cooking Matters educates through interactive, hands-on lessons and digital education tools and resources.  If you are interested in learning more – visit our website

11:00 AM - 11:45 AM

Opening Session with Ron Herndon

Ron Herndon is a celebrated leader in the Head Start community and a renowned voice in the fight for civil rights. For more than four decades he has worked to bring the Head Start mission to life in his community in Oregon and nationwide. As the executive director of Albina Head Start in Portland, Ron has a strong vision for the future of Head Start––he believes in empowering parents, creating a work environment that values employees, and is a trailblazer in innovation and school readiness. Ron will discuss how his experiences and continued persuit of equality shape Albina Head Start’s positive impact on children and families.

12:00 PM - 1:15 PM

A Management Systems Approach to ERSEA Service Delivery with Tim Adams, Karen Surprenant, Michelle Brown

This highly participatory session will give participants an opportunity to assess their ERSEA service delivery through the lens of the Management Systems Wheel.  Using facilitated group dialogue, participants can connect with peers and identify successful ERSEA strategies.  A fun and interactive review of ERSEA regulations will provide an opportunity to consider the intersection of regulatory requirements and system design.  Participants will learn about the latest ERSEA resources.  Content will be explored through the lens of the pandemic and its impact on our children, families and communities.

Are your school readiness goals interwoven throughout your program? with Shawn Bryant, Teaching Excellence Center

School readiness is at the heart of Head Start programs. Your school readiness goals drive your five-year grant process, continuous quality improvement and activities that you do on a daily basis with the children in your programs. How does your program measure-up with everyone knowing your school readiness goals and how they are related to everything in the program?

New Directors Bootcamp, Part 1 with Dr. Bernadine Futrell, Dr. Joe Hill, Candice Deal-Bartell​

The Boot Camp will focus on setting our Hearts, Minds, and Skills on the work ahead to lead effectively and address the following essential questions: Who am I as a leader and how can I build upon my strengths to lead effectively in this new role? (Heart Set) What are the leadership principles and skills necessary to lead Head Start and Early Head Start programs effectively during this era of COVID-19 and beyond? (Mind Set) What are the top 10 things that I, as a new director must focus on in my first 100-days and beyond? (Skill Set) Before The Boot Camp please complete the following 5 Voices Assessment here: Attendance to the Boot Camp is open to all MDA attendees, however, we ask that you plan to attend the three consecutive sessions to get the maximum benefits.

1:30 - 2:45 PM

Financial Management in the ERA of COVID-19 with Belinda Rinker and Rhea Nesbitt

Grantees have devised innovative ways to serve children and families during the COVID-19 health emergency.  The reopening status of programs varies between states and even communities.  As grantees adopt safe operating guidelines, program services may look very different than they did pre-coronavirus.  As program circumstances change, the demand for effective, responsive fiscal management increases.  Grantees have been given unprecendented fiscal opportunities and flexibilities as they respond to COVID-19.  Along with these greater flexibilities comes greater ressponsibility for demonstrating that funds are being used to effectively delivery program services and to prepare for, respond to and recover from COVID-19.  Join Belinda Rinker, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Head Start, for a discussion of fiscal management and fiscal management and fiscal accountability in today's challenging financial environment.

Coaching strong with confidence with Shawn Bryant, Teaching Excellence Center

Coaching teaching staff to bring out the best in them during these uncertain times of keeping children safe and healthy while growing thier school readiness skills is a big mission to accomplish. Learn what it means to be a coach that inspires and leads staff to reach their full potential. How are programs meeting the coaching requirements and what resources are available to build a coaching model that everyone finds valuable and helpful?

New Director's Bootcamp, Part 2 with Henry Wilde, CEO/Co-founder Acelero Learning

The world is changing and so are decision points. As EHS/HS programs consider adjusting and/or revisiting programmatic models, it's essential that leaders lean into their core principles, make certain assumptions, and set up baseline expectations. It is through this process that challenges can be approached and decisions can be made with empathy and equity in mind. To expand on this, Henry Wilde, CEO/Co-founder Acelero Learning, will speak on his own principles, which are as follows: 
  1. Prioritization of staff, and the children and families we serve.
  2. Our mission - making sure we accomplish it. Children leave ready for kindergarten.
  3. Honoring parents’ voice.
  4. Empathy and equity.

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Is this an allowable expense? with Belinda Rinker and Rhea Nesbitt

Fiscal flexibilities available to grantees through December 31, 2020 recognize that the coronavirus has created entirely new types of allowable program costs.  Grantees are still accountable for making sure their expenses are necessary, reasonable and allowable.  But the circumstances under which spending decisions are being made have changed dramatically.  How can grantees maximize the likelihood that their spending decisions result in allowable costs?  This session, led by Belinda Rinker, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Head Start, will explore allowable costs as grantees deliver comprehensive services and prepare for, respond to and recover from COVID-19.  This session will provide plenty of time for questions and answers, so plan ahead to get the answers you need.

Leading in the Dark:  Happiness is Running through the Streets to find you, even in a Pandemic with Holly Elissa Bruno

When the world flips upside down, children need stable, unflappable adults to reassure them all is well.  But who reassures us adults?  Traumatic times bring out our worst and our best.  Let's together identify HOPEFUL everyday leadership practices to serve as our lighthouse during this pandemic storm.

New Director's Bootcamp, Part 3 with Dru OConnor, Dr. Bernadine Futrell

Part 3 of the NHSA Boot camp addresses the essential question: What are the top 10 things that I, as a new director must focus on in my first 100-days and beyond? (Skill Set) featuring a panel of veteran Head Start directors. This session is interactive by providing the platform to ask questions of your peers and broaden your knowledge on creative ways to incorporate new ideas into your work. Dru OConnor, Dr. Bernadine Futrell


4:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Closing Session

Distant, but Connected with Teaching Strategies

As leaders, you are being called to rise to extraordinary circumstances in the weeks and months ahead. While you are planning and preparing to continue giving Early Head Start and Head Start children, families, and staff the very best you have, we want you to know you are not alone. In this session, we will discuss ways to stay connected to one another even when we are physically apart, the role of gratitude in creating a sense of community, and keeping joy on your leadership agenda.

5:15 PM – 6:00 PM

Evening chat with Shine

What's the one thing your program has done (over the last 3 months) or is planning to do that you're really proud of?  Andrew Davis will share his observations and the common theme(s) that has (have) stood out amongst the different leaders in education who he's interviewed on Shine Early Learning's Together We Shine webcast.

Wednesday, July 22

11:00 AM - 11:45 AM

Opening Session

12:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Looking Under the Hood of Recruitment and Enrollment

If your program is struggling with under-enrollment, you are certainly not alone. While some programs struggle with long waitlists, many others struggle to fill slots. Join us to "look under the hood" and get to the bottom of your enrollment struggles and identify opportunities to improve.

Using CLASS Data for Professional Growth and Increased Student Outcomes

There are multiple reasons for using CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System).  This interactive session will focus on why and how to use CLASS Data to inform professional development as well as help programs/agencies with their continuous quality improvement cycles, which will ultimately lead to increased student outcomes.

Data and Leadership: A Perfect (and Necessary) Match with Keri Allred, Rural Utah Child Development, and Larry Campbell, Campbell Coaching and Consulting

Using data to improve practice isn’t just for tech experts and analysts–you can do it too! Head Start program leaders are using data dashboards to revolutionize their own management and leadership skills and make data-informed decisions in their programs. This session will share data use success from your colleagues and inspire you to replicate their success in your program.

1:30 – 2:45 PM

Polishing the PIR

The Program Information Report (PIR) is a big task every year for programs, and there are big changes coming in 2020-2021. In this session, we will spend our time on two important topics: (1) Understanding the changes coming to the PIR, and (2) Learning about best practices for monitoring and submitting your PIR data. By the end of the session, you'll be a PIR pro: ready for a smooth process and an accurate report.

Data Analytics Playbook Training with Victoria Jones, NHSA

NHSA recently released a new resource to help Head Start programs better use the data they collect in their program: the Head Start Data Analytics Playbook. Learn what the Playbook is and how to use it through a child development use case, including the opportunity to interact with the Playbook yourself!

Optimizing Remote Work during Stay-at-Home Orders: Exploring and Understanding Your Program's Data Capacity with Stuart Jones, Acorn Evaluation

As an EHS/HS Director or Manager, you understand that much of your program’s work is unable to occur remotely, so you may be asking yourself – what can my staff being doing right now, as they work from their homes? This brief, detailed presentation demonstrates how you can use this time to explore and understand your program’s data capacity: the current state of your people and your systems when it comes to “all things data”. The information gathered from these efforts can be used to develop realistic, step by step continuous quality improvement (CQI) plans, which can then be implemented during remote work.

3:00 PM – 4:15 PM

Understanding and Improving Attendance with Dr. Greg Dixon, Acorn Evaluation

Visualizing your data can bring a whole new level of quality to your role as a Head Start leader. In this session, you'll be walked through a project around visualizing attendance data and how it relates to other numbers, like funded enrollment and children dropping out. By the end, you'll have learned best practices around data management and accountability that will be critical back in your centers.

Making Progress on your School Readiness Goals

Are your participants and families ready for school? Data collected through your developmental assessments may help you answer this question, but school readiness is so much more. Your agency can also evaluate attendance records, medical conditions, disability and behavior concerns and even the family's general well-being. Pulling data from different sources provides a more well-rounded picture. Attend this session to view examples of how data can be used to track progress towards school readiness.

Hiring for Data Skills When You're Not a Data Person...with Victoria Jones, NHSA

Unless you're a data wiz yourself, it can be hard to hire for data skills - What kind of data staff do I need? How do I describe that in a job description? What skills do I look for on a resume? In this session, NHSA will share a new resource, the Developing Data Capacity toolkit, and train attendees on how to use it.

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Closing Session: What's Next? Bringing it Back Home

After a full day of sessions that have emphasized using data and improvement science in various aspects of program practice, a big question still remains: What now? Our closing session will push attendees to reflect on that they've learned, brainstorm how they will make changes back in their programs, and learn what resources are available to support them in these efforts.

Thursday, July 23

11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Join and connect as a Head Start family to learn and go together forward to re-opening our programs safely across the country. You are invited a national conversation about what the future holds for our Head Start and Early Head Start programs when we re-open. This is a time to connect together as a Head Start family and have a conversation about how each program should be thinking about reopening for our children, families and staff. Together we will talk about what re-opening means for policy and procedures; how to uphold high quality instructional practices; how to create schedules that address student-staff ratios with time to clean and sanitize; how to acquire and distribute personal protective equipment for adults and children and how to stay safe during pick-up and drop off procedures.