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2021 SCECA Conference

Keynote Speakers

Friday morning: Mr. B, Anthony Broughton, PhD

Keynote:Reclaiming their time: Embracing the Diversity and Individualism of ALL Children

This keynote will address culturally and individually responsive approaches to embrace diversity and Individualism through our curriculum practices and learning environments. This requires that we prioritize diversity and ensure equitable learning experiences for children while they are on our watch.

Mr. B yellow coat

Mr. B is a native South Carolinian who is a product of our public schools and state universities. Anthony Broughton serves as a professor/early childhood coordinator at Claflin University, School of Education. Since his high school days as a South Carolina teacher cadet, in Cross, South Carolina, to becoming a certified kindergarten–first grade teacher, ensuring equity and excellence in education has been the heart of Dr. Anthony Broughton’s career.

Affectionately known as “MiSTER B or Dr. B.” by teachers and young/tiny scholars worldwide, Dr. B. supports teachers in interweaving music and movement into their curriculums to foster all areas of development.

He is an author and illustrator and a children’s musical artist. Dr. B. earned a PhD in early childhood education by the age of 30, and he holds certificates from Cornell University and Harvard University. Before becoming a professor/early childhood coordinator at Claflin University, Dr. B. worked for the South Carolina Department of Education as a 4K regional coordinator, ensuring high-quality early learning statewide. Prior to that, he served as an administrator for the then NAEYC-accredited Benedict College Child Development Center, which earned accreditation under his tutelage. Dr. B. contributes to the field through research, service with several organizations—such as Call Me M.I.S.T.E.R., Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and his LLC—and through advocacy with the South Carolina Early Childhood Association and the South Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children as a board member.

Friday afternoon: Clarissa Willis PhD.

KEYNOTE: Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Strategies that Work!

Teaching Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder is challenging for teachers and they struggle to understand the ways children with autism relate to the world. This session provides specific strategies for teachers to use, including setting up a proactive environment that encourages literacy development, managing behavior, and helping children with autism communicate effectively.

Clarissa Willis is an author, consultant and professional development specialist living in Indiana. She provides workshops, keynote addresses, and customized professional development nationally and internationally.

Clarissa Willis

Formerly, the Associate Director of the Center of Excellence in Early Childhood Learning and Development at East Tennessee State University, she directed such projects as Tennessee's Early Intervention System Technical Assistance Project, The East Tennessee Autism Training Project, The Tennessee Preschool Literacy Project, and Expanding Horizons Early Intervention Project. Currently she is an associate professor of Special Education at the University of Southern Indiana.

She has written 19 books including Teaching Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Gryphon House), Inclusive environments for Young Children (Corwin Press) and Guidelines and Strategies for Children with Special Needs (Frog Street Press). In addition Dr. Willis is the senior author of the Kaplan Early Childhood Curriculum Learn Every Day.

Saturday morning: Niki Spears

KEYNOTE: Let's Create Our Best BUS Story!

It wasn’t just students and parents who braved a new way of learning when the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools across the nation, but school leaders and teachers were challenged to create a new blueprint providing valuable instruction and learning. Let’s face it, we can’t pour from an empty cup. In order to serve and commit to the needs of students and families during these times of uncertainty, our educators will need time to reflect on where we’ve been and the purpose for where we’re going, recharge our minds and motivation, and refresh our soul as we help you refill your cup so that you can be the educator you were created to be. Niki Spears, author of the new children’s book The Hand Hug and The Beauty Underneath the Struggle: Creating Your BUS Story will help you reflect, recharge and recommit to the road ahead!

NikiSpears 300sq

Niki is a former school principal and now works as an educator and change leader. She shares her passion and enthusiasm for creating positive school culture based on shared leadership – including students as young as 5 years of age. Niki is leading the charge to develop positive schools by sharing the importance of embracing a leadership mindset.

Niki has partnered with best-selling author, Jon Gordon and is touring around the country sharing how the success principles from Mr. Gordon’s book, The Energy Bus, can reinforce positive leadership as we transform classrooms, schools and communities.

Niki resides in Houston, Texas with her husband and three beautiful girls.