Early childhood educators gather in Bay County for annual conference

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Early childhood educators from across seven Panhandle counties gathered at Gulf Coast State College in Bay County on Saturday for the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida’s Annual Conference. 

“The purpose of the conference is to bring early childhood educators together so they can spend some time in professional development,” said Suzan Gage, Executive Director of the coalition. 

Gage said it was an exciting event, as the conference wasn’t held last year due to Hurricane Michael.

“I think everybody has a buzz of excitement to be together,” said Gage. “They get to see friends they might not get to see all the time.”

Hurricane Michael also played a role in this year’s theme; understanding behavior with love and compassion.

“We still have families that are in crisis,” said Gage. “We still have children who are living through the trauma of Hurricane Michael and sometimes it’s shown through their behaviors in the classroom.”

Gage said she hopes the conference gave educators a new perspective and tips and tricks when handling those behaviors.

“We want to make sure that the teachers in the classroom, especially in child-care, understand what is typical behavior and what is not typical behavior,” she said. “If it’s not typical behavior, what can they do to work with the family or work with the other staff of the child-care center, to do what’s best for the child.”

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