Solidarity for Advancing as a Profession at the Kindergarten Conference

by Ann Traverso Moore

This year’s Kindergarten Conference centered on the value of play in learning. You don’t want to miss this annual event in Vermont, and next year is the 30th!

The morning sessions were provided virtually and included a panel discussion and related virtual workshops. The afternoon was all face-to-face, with hands-on workshops hosted at exciting and convenient locations across the state, including at the ECHO Center in Burlington, the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier, the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, the Vermont Institute for Natural Science in Quechee, and the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury. 

During the opening morning session, Rachel Hunter provided a brief presentation about Advancing Early Childhood Education as a Profession. Rachel is an early childhood educator from Springfield and serves as outreach coordinator for Advancing as a Profession. Efforts are underway to unite the workforce and advance early childhood education as a recognized profession. She invited all to become part of this initiative in Vermont, and asked that conference attendees respond to a survey. 

There were 118 Kindergarten teachers, early childhood educators, special educators, school administrators, and other leaders in attendance. 90% of the attendees participated in the survey, and 88% reflected that they were excited about Early Childhood Education (ECE) becoming a recognized profession serving young children from birth through age 8.

Comments included:

“This is one of the most important jobs in the world!”

“This is what early educators need and deserve.”

“I want everyone to be treated with the same respect as the public school teachers.” 

About a third of survey respondents reflected that they also had at least some concerns related to how it would all work: 

“How long will it take?”

“Where would the money come from for better wages, insurance, and benefits?”

“How would it fit with my current teacher’s license?”

“It is hard for people to take ECE seriously as a profession when you can only afford to hire uncertified staff, yet call them teachers.” 

The Kindergarten Conference attendees were from many different settings, but 64% are currently working in public school settings, and 23% are Kindergarten teachers. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see that 99% of those who participated in the survey reported that they would feel a part of an ECE profession serving young children from birth through age 8. 

Now that is solidarity! One respondent added the following comment: “Praise the communities and committees that are working so hard to make this dream come true!” 

Toddler and woman at artmaking table

Ann Traverso Moore is VTAEYC’s Membership Director.