Amanda McMickle: Director of Will Smith Zoo School
Amanda McMickle is the Director of Will Smith Zoo School in San Antonio, Texas. She is on the OLE! Texas leadership team, which is an initiative of the Department of Human and Health Services to decrease childhood obesity through outdoor learning environment design improvements. Amanda is on the board of LiiNK Project out of TCU and on the networking committee for the NAAEE’s Natural Start Alliance. Amanda is the founder of NEST – Nature-based Education Support in Texas, which is a group of educators working to give students engaging experiences in the outdoors. Currently a student at the University of the Incarnate Word, Amanda is working on her PhD in International Education and Entrepreneurship.
Will Smith Zoo School is the largest Nature-based Preschool in the country with over 230 students. The school recently earned their LEED Platinum certification, being the first preschool in the country, and second in the world, to earn that recognition.
Linda Watts – Early Childhood Consultant
Linda Watts is the owner and director of Early Connections, Linda Watts Consulting. Her experience as an early childhood teacher, teacher mentor, curriculum writer, professional development writer and presenter and early childhood program director has provided expertise in scientifically based best practices in early childhood education in all learning domains. Linda has committed her 47-year career to ensuring that all children, birth through age 8, have access to high quality, research-based learning environments and programs.
As a national consultant and associate of two leading research institutes, she shares her expertise in collaborative efforts to improve the landscape of early childhood education. Linda strives to ensure that all that is known about the needs of our youngest learners and the neurodevelopment of young brains is intentionally woven into the creation of inspirational spaces where young minds and spirits can flourish and grow.
Sandra Duncan, EdD
Through A Child’s Eyes: How Classroom Design Inspires Learning & Wonder
Children need beauty in their environment…Inspiring Spaces for Young Children: Aesthetics and a Sense of Wonder
• Beauty of nature to have kinesthetic and visual textures
• Plastics vs Nature
• Reading is all about attention and observation skills
• Observe it in wonder, become a better reader
• Space and a Place
With over 45 years of experience in the early care and education field and a doctorate in education, Dr. Duncan has extensive experience in working with young children and parents, teaching at the university level (doctorate students and early childhood students), PDA specialist for CDA candidates, designing and writing professional development programs for practitioners, and authoring several teacher resource books including Inspiring Spaces for Young Children and Rating Observation Scale for Inspiring Environments (ROSIE). As the former owner of eleven early childhood programs (i.e., well baby clinic, reading diagnostic clinic, park and recreation, programs for special rights children, preschool, and child care) and current owner of eleven before- and after-school programs serving over 1,100 school agers for three public school systems, Dr. Duncan has a wide and varied background in early care and education. Most importantly, she is the proud grandma of Sierra Elizabeth.
Dr. Julie Z Cramer, Wayfind Education
Dr. Julie Zoellin Cramer is the founder and vice-president of Wayfind Education. As an education research consultant, Dr. Cramer is dedicated to the development of deeper learning environments to help all students find their place of impact in the world. As a school design strategist, she works with integrated design firms, districts and schools to align learning and teaching goals with physical learning spaces.
Dr. Cramer is an experienced research administrator and was the founding Deputy Director for the Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education (IEE). As the senior research associate for the IEE’s Center for Education Policy and Law, her work focused on K-16 education policy as well as the role of innovative pedagogies in both new school development and school redesign. Launching the IEE’s Learning Space Design Project, she was involved in the design of e3 Civic High, a public charter school on the 6th and 7th floor of the new San Diego Central Library. The school has been nationally recognized for its co-location strategy and intentional alignment of pedagogy and learning spaces.
Dr. Cramer earned a PhD and MA in K-12 public/private school leadership from the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. Her dissertation focused on stakeholder empowerment in the K-12 system. Her current research involves culture-based learning in schools and place attachment.
DAVID A. STUBBS II CEO/President/Founder, Cultural-Shift Educational Consultants
David has been recognized as one of the most important industry leaders in establishing physical solutions for the next generation of educational environments. He has won numerous awards form local and national organizations including A4LE, IIDA, USGBC, and the EPA.
While a public education employee he designed Shift+, the first holistic and reconfigurable array of educational furniture components, in partnership with VS America. Shift+ continues to be instrumental in transformations within the educational furniture marketplace.
Lauren Magee, Guidecraft
Lauren Magee is a licensed architect and is the Director of Architecture and Environmental Design for Guidecraft. She specializes in interdisciplinary design and leads an international team of creative professionals who focus on the design of environments for young children, toddlers and infants. Lauren is a former educator and elected school board member and has done extensive research into the psychology of places and spaces, specifically in the ways people of all ages engage with the built environment and natural surroundings.
Katherina A. Payne, PhD
Katherina A. Payne is Assistant Professor of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research considers the intersections of civic education, elementary/early childhood schooling, and teacher education. Across these areas, she examines the role of relationships, community, and justice to transform classrooms into child-centered, democratic and more equitable spaces