Presenters for 2018 Conference:

Brave and Creative:

Early Childhood Practices For a Just World

Keynote Speaker

Patricia Okoumou scaled the Statue of Liberty on July 04, 2018 to protest the Trump Administration Zero-Tolerance policy on immigration. Patricia came to New York City from the Republic of the Congo in 1994. She experienced family separation during the first couple years of her life, and that motivates her to advocate for The Children. Her father was an aviator, serving as a pilot for the President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Metropolitan College of New York (formerly Audrey Cohen College) and an Associate’s Degree in Science from Columbia-Greene Community College. She has been involved in social justice for most of her adult life. 

Closing Ceremony

MINKA Brooklyn ‘MINKA’ means ‘home of the people’.  A healers-led center for wellness and holistic living, MINKA focuses on promoting the inherent magic that is present within nature, and to unleash the power of human potential.  It is a space for beings of all identities and expressions; and the workshops and services reflects these values.

Pop-Up (8:30am-9am 10m-12pm) in the Cafe

Wendy Cole, Emily Garcia and Victoria Sanz of Maple Street School

We practice the art of radical and playful pop-ups at Maple Street Preschool, at Little Chairs Big Differences conference in Brooklyn NY, and beyond.  Radical and playful pop-ups for us are always free, never owned, include everyone, and always have intention based in kindness, creativity, play, joy, love and activism.

Radical, playful pop-ups can teach us that anyone can create culture and share it rather than just consume it. Radical pop-ups also work with our implicit bias by having children and grown-ups invite everyone from the bus driver to the person with earphones on that can’t hear anything.

Additionally pop-ups are a tool we use to teach children and their grown ups about changing the world and activism.  Our pop-ups are rooted in pedagogy from Pippi Longstocking to Paulo Friere.  They are playful, ridiculous and encourage the power of creation and voice.

Pop-Ups when they are for and by the people (and especially the preschool people), and when they are compassionate and creative, can shift perspective and create more than an Instagram moment; pop-ups can be part of creating a compassionate, playful, inclusive culture and community.

We invite you to come visit us and experience the love, creativity, joy, power and activism in our grassroots radical playful pop-ups. Make a cape! What is your superpower?


Yo Re Mi brings curriculum-based music and yoga education to NYC schools (Pre-school age 2 through 5th Grade). Through our unique combination of music and yoga, children learn with their bodies, minds, and voices all at once. We incorporate live music, movement and mindfulness while supporting curriculum goals. In addition to combining two enrichment classes into one, we celebrate the uniqueness of a child’s mind, honoring their creativity and imagination in a non-competitive environment. Bridget Saracino is the Director of School Operations for Yo Re Mi and a 200-hour National Yoga Alliance registered Yoga Teacher. In addition to teaching yoga, Bridget is a professional actress and musician with a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Co., and a Bachelor's of Arts in Theatre Arts from Cornell University. She acts professionally in theatre, voiceover, and commercials across the country. Bridget is also a theatre educator, specializing in play, voice, dialects, and movement for children and adults. [Early Morning Yoga Practice]

Eileen Blau is a special educator/early childhood teacher. She has been in the field over 35 years, as a classroom teacher and currently as a SEIT and educational consultant. She is an artist who makes almost all her own materials.  She has three grown daughters, two who are teachers and one of them works at the Maple Street School. She has taught early childhood as well as worked with young adults with special needs.
She does parent and teacher workshops. [Teacher Made Materials for helping Children with Sensory Processing and Self-Regulation Difficulties]

Sala Cyril and Mshairi Siyanda of Little Maroons: Sala Cyril is the Director of Little Maroons, a parent-supported childcare cooperative operating from a child-led, African-centered curriculum rooted in indigenous wisdom. She is a mother, an organizer with The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and an educator. Mama Mshairi is the Lead Teacher at Little Maroons. Mshairi is on of the founding members of The Nalo Movement, an Atlanta based theater collective. She is also one of the founding members of Wildseeds Octavia Butler Emergent Strategies collective in New Orleans and an active member of The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. She practices ARTivism as a poet, writer, educator, and artist who is committed to social justice as a proud Black feminist and nationalist. [We Are the Maroons: Teaching Community Self-determination]

Peggy Francois Roseus, Jennifer Smith and Marisa Lark Wallin: Peggy Francois Roseus is a mother, musician, dancer and educator. She is currently Assistant Director and Head Teacher at the Maple Street School in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education from Concordia College. She believes that children learn and can easily apply what they learn and their skills in environments that allows them to freely express themselves through movement and music. Jennifer Smith is a mother, artist and educator. She is program director at the Maple Street School and holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education from Concordia College. Marisa Lark Wallin is a writer, actor and educator. She is a New York State Certified Teacher. Between 2004 and 2017 she held many roles at the well-regarded Maple Street School in Brooklyn, NY. Marisa firmly believes in the power of art and education as tools for social justice. In 2015 she received a Tow Travel Fellowship to participate in a pilot student exchange between the Brooklyn College Early Childhood and Art Education Department and Jönköping University in Sweden. She holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College. Her writing about outdoor pretend play was recently published in Child Care Exchange Magazine. She is currently associate producer and writer at the children’s media production company, 100 Chickens. She is a proud member of the planning committee of Little Chairs Big Differences. [Free Your Art (and the Rest Will Follow)]

Lori Riddick and Sachi Ferris of Race ConsciousSachi Ferris is a White, Jewish woman of Russian, Polish, Lebanese, Syrian, and Cuban descent. She is a mother to her daughter, born in 2012, and her two sons, born in 2015 and 2017. Her husband is from Argentina, so they speak Spanish as a family She has a B.A. from Bates College, an M.A. in Sociology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an M.P.A. in Public Policy from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs. As an educator, she has been dedicated to social justice education and bringing issues of race and equity to our youngest children since 2000. She is the founder of Border Crossers, a nonprofit dedicated to racial equity. Currently, she teaches Spanish part-time at an elementary school in Brooklyn. Lori Taliaferro Riddick identifies as Black/Bi-racial/Multi-racial. She is a mother to three sons, born in 2008, 2016, and 2017. She received a B.A. in Urban Studies and an MSEd. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, she consults with public school districts to develop effective leaders, and formerly served as the Executive Director of Policy and Practice Services at New Leaders, New Schools. [Raising Race Conscious Children]

Megan Pamela Ruth Madison Pamela Ruth Madison is a doctoral candidate at Brandeis University, studying racial inequity in early childhood workforce policy. When she’s not working on finishing up her dissertation research, she works as a trainer for the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, Border Crossers, and the Human Root. Before graduate school, Megan was a preschool teacher in Chicago. Megan holds a bachelor’s degree in studies in religion and a master’s degree in early childhood education. She serves on the governing boards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.  [Black Lives Matter. Racial Justice in Early Childhood Education]

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