Symposium Series

Educators' Symposium 2022

The 2022 Educators' Symposium will be held online July 19-20th. The full agenda is listed below! Open to all educators (formal and informal), educational leaders, care providers, and others who work in the service of children, families, and educators. The cost is $143 to attend both days and $75 to attend one day. With your conference registration fee, you will receive access to session recordings and a certificate of attendance. Registration closes at the end of the day on July 18th.

Register Here!


Tuesday, July 19 (EST)

10–11:15am: Opening Keynote: Children, healthy development, and P.R.I.D.E. (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education)
Dr. Aisha White, Program Director of P.R.I.D.E. at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development.
When children don’t feel good about themselves, particularly their race, that can harm their healthy development, and the same can be said about children who develop a misguided sense of racial superiority. Equitable childcare and racially supportive child rearing can counter the biased messages children may receive about race. Together they can ensure that children will have those ‘strong and good feelings’, not only about themselves, but about their race and culture, in essence, ensuring they will develop a positive racial identity. Dr. Aisha White will discuss the P.R.I.D.E. Program, the connections between race and social-emotional development, and the importance of helping children to better understand race and equity.

11:45–12:45pm: Play Statement from the Fred Rogers Institute
Dr. Dana Winters, Executive Director, Fred Rogers Institute
As Fred Rogers reminded us, “Play is the real work of childhood.” This is something that educators, caregivers, and children often know deeply, though it can sometimes be forgotten in our conventional approaches to formal education. We will think together about how we can foster environments that contribute to the healthy development of children, youth, and families through play. It is through the empathy, wonder, mental wellbeing, and relationships that occur naturally in play that we may find equity and relational care for all learners. 

1:30–2:30pm: Donkey Hodie: Supporting Social-Emotional Learning and Embracing Joy
Kristin DiQuollo, Supervising Producer of Donkey Hodie for Fred Rogers Productions
Inspired by the funny, quirky side of Fred Rogers, Donkey Hodie is a social-emotional learning series for children ages 3-5 that empowers viewers to dream big and overcome obstacles in their own lives. Join Kristin DiQuollo, Supervising Producer of Donkey Hodie for Fred Rogers Productions, as she discusses how the series has been influenced by the joy and humor often incorporated into Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and the ways in which the series inspires children to be resilient and persistent in the face of failure, to discover they can solve problems on their own, and to laugh themselves silly along the way.

2:30–2:55pm:  Meet Your Neighbors: A session for mingling OR an Episode Watch
Join us for some interactive mingling to meet your neighbors at the Symposium. This will be a fun opportunity to make some quick contacts with other like-minded educators in attendance. Or, perhaps you’d like to watch an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for some inspiration.  The choice is yours!

3:15–4:30pm: Percussive Storytelling
Cory Hills, Grammy winning percussionist, Gretsch Fellow in Children’s Music
Join Grammy award-winning percussionist Cory Hills as he presents parts of his program, Percussive Storytelling, a program that fuses elements of storytelling and classical music that is equal parts high-energy, educational, and entertaining. Come experience different ways of utilizing the arts to complement aspects of ELA in your classrooms and schools. 


Wednesday, July 20 (EST)

10–10:50am: Inquiry Educators Panel
Emily Uhrin, Fred Rogers Institute’s Archivist, will lead a discussion with our special group of Inquiry Educators as they talk about the process of using the archive to research their independent projects.  Immediately following the panel, Symposium attendees can select a breakout room to learn more about the Inquiry Project of their choice.

10:50–11:30am: Inquiry Educators’ Breakout Sessions

  • Making Space for Play: Renata Capozzoli, Kindergarten Teacher, Pittsburgh, PA. This project looks at the ways prioritizing play has impacted relationships, student learning, and teacher practice in a kindergarten classroom over the past year.
  • The Psychology of Inner Childhood's Influence on the Making of Mister Rogers Neighborhood: Sierra Dinges, Pre-K Teacher, Doctor of Education Candidate, Kansas City, MO. This presentation examines the child psychology of inner childhood that influenced the creation of and was presented in Mister Rogers Neighborhood. 
  • The Puppet Project: Erin Dolan, Early Childhood Educator, Teaching Artist, Actor, Director, Playwright, Cleveland, OH. This presentation shares how the exploration of puppets with small groups of Pre-K students developed into a five lesson curriculum for social-emotional learning.
  • Give it a Listen: A Third Grader's Take on the Music of Fred Rogers: Molly Kankiewicz, Third Grade Teacher, Mountain Top, PA. Through this project, third graders provide their insight on the music and lyrics of Fred Rogers. 
  • Curiosity and Love of Self and Others: LeeAnne Kreuger, Kindergarten Teacher, Pittsburgh, PA. How research and time spent reading from the archives shaped the lessons in LeeAnne’s classroom and helped her students to look inward and love themselves all while learning how to love and appreciate their peers.

12:30–1:30pm: Building resilient neighborhoods: The powerful role of educators in serving children’s mental and behavioral health needs
Dr. Becky Zill, clinical neuropsychologist, Fred Rogers Institute Fellow in Mental Health and Wellbeing
Children’s mental and behavioral health concerns have increased in recent years, with effects of the COVID-19 pandemic further contributing to difficulties such as social isolation, emotional instability, and anxiety. As they are well positioned to play a variety of roles in children and young people’s lives, educators may play a powerful part in helping to better address these concerns by simply capturing and building on what they and other caring adults already do best.

1:30–1:55pm: Episode watch
Slow down and be inspired by watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  

2:15–3:30pm: Final Keynote 
Brad Montague, New York Times bestselling author-illustrator and creator of the hit web series Kid President
Brad Montague is a New York Times bestselling author-illustrator and creator of the hit web series Kid President. From his books Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome, Becoming Better Grownups and most recently The Circles All Around Us to work in children’s television and beyond, his stories of birds, balloons, and floating people have captured the imaginations of classrooms, board-rooms, and households throughout the world. His upcoming book, The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination releases from Penguin Random House Spring 2023.


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