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2023 SCECA Annual Conference

Keynote Speakers

Featured Speaker: Jackie Kops

Jackie will be presenting on Thursday and Friday during the conference

SCECA welcomes Jackie Kops back by popular demand. Jackie is an enthusiastic preschool teacher with over fifteen years of classroom teaching experience in both full-day and half-day settings. She is from Missouri where she earned a Masters and Bachelors in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Maryville University.

Jackie Kops

Her goal is to help you unleash your teaching superpowers! Jackie's passion is to inspire you with play-based activities, themed centers, and supports that nurture and challenge little learners in a caring classroom community. In addition to teaching, she is the teacher-author and CEO behind Pocket of Preschool (www.pocketofpreschool.com) and loves to share her passion with other educators.

Thursday Keynote: 7:30-8:30PM in Ballroom DE

The Music Lady, Beth Green

Beth Green, also known as “The Music Lady”, is an award-winning recording artist, and is Founder/Director of The School for Performing Arts, providing children with voice and piano instruction, in addition to dramatic arts classes & camps. For over 20 years, “The Music Lady” has served locally and online at schools and childcare centers. She has been a children's’ music specialist, working with children & parents in her private musical enrichment studio classes and at client schools/camps, and hosting music therapy application programs at special needs and elder care facilities.

Beth Green

Beth is also a Certified Teacher Trainer and provides teacher training and CEU’s for re-licensure to Early Childhood Educators, both at conferences and online. Beth holds a Master’s Degree in Education, with a specialty in Integrated Teaching through the Arts. Beth is also a professional voiceover artist who enjoys making recordings for the blind, providing narration for children’s audio books, complete with character voices, and producing telephony and audio narration for commercial and business applications. Among all, Beth’s favorite role, by far, is “Mom” to her 25-year old son. To learn more about Beth, please visit her Facebook page.

Thursday: Administrators and Principals’ Seminar

Karen Beaman & Jennifer Dollar

Karen Beaman

Karen Beaman is the EDU Co-Director for the Master in Education in Trauma-Informed Education. She has an Educational Specialist Degree and Master of Education in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina. Her experience in the classroom as a teacher, instructional technology specialist, assistant principal, and serving as elementary school principal for a total of 28 years, she brings a wholistic administrative lens to understand the systemic issues facing educators and our students.

Jennifer Dollar is the SOWK Co-Director of the Master in Education in Trauma-Informed Education, the former Director of Social Work Field Education, and a Social Work Instructor at Columbia College. Jennifer received her Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University of South Carolina. Prior to working at Columbia College, she was a School Social Worker for 16 years in School District 5 of Lexington and Richland Counties. She is a clinical social worker with a private practice. She loves educating others on understanding the neuroscience of the impact of trauma and how to bring about health and healing where trauma is involved.

Jennifer Dollar

Thursday: Child Care Directors’ Seminar

Tameka Phillips

Tameka T. Phillips (TP the Trainer) is the owner of Peace Project Carolinas. We offer virtual and in-person training to early care and education professionals in South Carolina and North Carolina. With every interaction, we create a community where ALL members can Grow, Glow and Go.

Tameka is also the creator of Della’s Apron. Della’s Apron is a USDA MyPlate Ambassador, offering Discover MyPlate Curriculum training to early care and education professionals. We also offer technical assistance to providers in garden installations.

Tameka’s early care and education journey began in 1998 with Darlington County Community Action Agency. She served in many capacities, including as an Early Childhood Services Manager and Early Mental Health Manager. Tameka has also served as a Senior Regulatory Specialist with the South Carolina Department of Social Services - Child Care Licensing Division and as a Trainer and Technical Assistance Provider with Optimum Healthcare IT.

Tameka Phillips

Tameka has an Associates in Applied Science with Johnson and Wales University, a Bachelors of Science with Coker College and a Masters of Science with Capella University. She is a trainer with the following initiatives: Be Strong Families Parent Cafes and the Pyramid Model Consortium.

Friday Keynote: Dr. Akil Ross

Dr. Akil Ross

“He flunked the third grade. Now he’s the best high school principal in the nation.” This was the headline from the local newspaper after he was announced the National Principal of the Year. Dr. Akil Ross’ story is a testimony of the power a community has to transform a struggling student into a high performing student. Akil grew up in Washington, DC during the height of a drug and crime wave that claimed the potential of many young people in his community. In the midst of these conditions, transformational elements were made available that empowered him to maximize his potential. He credits his home, his elementary school and a recreational center for teaching him how to face adversity and overcome obstacles early in his life. As a result of the high expectations set in his home, school and on the playing field, Akil was able to earn a full scholarship to Duke University.

Upon graduation from Duke University, Akil moved to South Carolina, where he taught Social Studies for three years at Eau Claire High School in Columbia, SC. In 2005, he obtained his M.Ed. in Secondary Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina and joined Chapin High School as an assistant principal in July of 2005. After 5 years as an assistant principal, he was named principal in July of 2010. In July of 2012, he earned doctorate degree in Curriculum Studies from the University of South Carolina.

Chapin High School received many awards and recognitions under Akil’s leadership such the Palmetto’s Finest Award, Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Lighthouse Award, several national rankings in academics from Newsweek, Niche, Washington Post and US News & World Report. His school earned 20 State Championships in 8 Years (14 State Championships in Athletics, 4 State Championships in Marching Band and 2 NJROTC State Championship including 1 National Championship). As principal of Chapin High School, Dr. Ross was named the 2017 SC Secondary Principal of the Year and the 2018 NASSP National Principal of the Year.

He and his wife Jocelyn live in Columbia, SC and have two children, Alyssa (9) and Akil Jr. “AJ” (5).

Friday: Eric Litwin

Eric Litwin is a song singing, guitar strumming, # 1 New York Times best selling, award winning author who brings early literacy and music together.

He is the original author of the Pete the Cat series as well as the author of The Nuts, Groovy Joe, and The Poop Song. Eric is also the co-author of The Power of Joyful Reading: Help Your Young Readers Soar to Success, a popular professional development book for teachers.

Eric has eight award winning music CDs. His music curriculum company, The Learning Groove won a 2013 Totally Awesome Award for its music. Eric writes dances to accompany his books. What a fun way to make literacy even more exciting. His books have sold over 13 million copies, been translated into 17 languages, and won 26 literacy awards including a Theodor Geisel Seuss Honor Award.

Eric Litwin

Friday: Advocacy Luncheon Speaker

Dan Wuori

Dan Wuori is Senior Director of Early Learning at The Hunt Institute, a North Carolina-based education policy resource to the nation’s governors, state lawmakers and senior elected officials.

Dan Wuori

A former kindergarten teacher and school district administrator, Dan served as the Deputy Director of South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness – the state’s comprehensive, public-private early learning initiative – from 2005-2018. In this role, he worked alongside elected leaders to develop significant, bipartisan support for early childhood education and oversaw system innovations including the delivery of public prekindergarten in private, community and faith-based preschools, improvements to the state’s IDEA Part C early intervention system, the creation of statewide program accountability standards, and the expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs. A Past President of the SC Early Childhood Association, Dan was honored as South Carolina’s 2018 Champion for Children at the state’s annual Summit on Early Childhood. He lives with his family in Columbia, SC.

Saturday Keynote: Morgan Lee

Morgan Lee is especially interested in finding ways to help people to learn to live together while also honoring each other’s differences. Morgan always works from a platform of justice and equity.

Morgan serves as a facilitator, retreat leader and coach serving schools, educators, families, faith communities, organizations, businesses and communities throughout the United States and Canada. Morgan is the founder and Chief Learning Leader for Leading Up, LLC. He works with many groups through the Circle of Trust® approach to create a process of shared exploration where people can find safe space to nurture personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. He works with educators, teachers, and parents in restorative practices in order to strengthen relationships and build strong families, classrooms, schools and communities. He also works in schools as a leadership coach, a culture coach and as a leader in culture responsive education.

Morgan Lee

Morgan has a great deal of experience in leadership development. He has served as a principal, teacher and professional development specialist on school, school district and state levels. Morgan is certified as an elementary and secondary principal. He is an international facilitator with the Center for Courage and Renewal, a certified spiritual director through the Haden Institute, a development coach with training through the Center for Creative Leadership and a restorative practices facilitator with training through the International Institute for Restorative Practices.