<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-NP2ZK8" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> The Mary Culkin Lecture Series

Issues in Education: The Mary Culkin Lecture Series

The lecture and discussion series has been developed in memory of the late Mary Louise Culkin, who taught in the ECE program for many years and helped to develop the master’s degree in Contemplative Education. Mary envisioned opportunities for extended learning series for the early education community. Through this series, we learn from regional and national leaders in the field of early care and education, and become connected as a larger educational community. The lecture series is open to all interested members of the community. Certificates of attendance will be issued for contact hour documentation for re-licensing.

For more information contact Annette Brant.  Free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged. Register Here.

Past Events

"NCLB to ESSA: What does it mean?" with Supt. Bruce Messinger, State Senator Rollie Heath, Rep. Rhonda Fields
April 27, 2016, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Nalanda Event Center


Rhonda Fields is a forceful advocate for families, children, and public safety, who was first elected to serve the Colorado House of Representatives for the 68th General Assembly in 2010. She is the first African American woman elected to the state legislature to represent Aurora’s House District 42, Arapahoe County. In November 2014, she was reelected to her third term in the House of Representatives. She currently serves as the Chair of the Local Government committee and is a ranking member on the Education Committee. Representative Fields has aggressively represented the needs of the under-served and vulnerable people in her district and throughout the State. She is a champion of quality public education, and helped secure nearly $500 million in funding for K-12 programs – helping to reduce class sizes and retain best teachers. She continues to work to expand early childhood education and workforce programs to prepare young people for success in their chosen fields.

Rollie Heath is a successful business man and supporter of education. In 2009 Rollie was elected to the State Senate. During his time in office he has chaired many committees and passed many bills to support business and education. As the Senate Majority Leader, Rollie has continued to keep quality education as one of the top three objectives.. About education he has said: I've said many times that education is the key to our democracy, since without an educated populace, our form of government simply can't work. It's vitally important for us to provide quality education for all of Colorado's children, starting as early as preschool. Eliminating our current achievement gap is also essential. Top-notch education can lead to excellent future employment opportunities for the students, and will help young Coloradans learn the civic and social values necessary to build the engaged citizenry of tomorrow.

Dr. Bruce Messinger, superintendent of the Boulder Valley School District, was selected as the Colorado Superintendent of the Year for 2016. Since 1988, the National Superintendent of the Year program has recognized and honored superintendents for the contributions they make every day advocating for public education, our nation’s children and our country’s future. Dr. Messinger became superintendent of Boulder Valley School District July 1, 2011. Now entering his fifth year administering Colorado’s eighth largest school district, Messinger launched the Superintendent’s Strategic Planning Process. This process, involving hundreds of community members and educators, is intended to operationalize the Board of Education vision, mission, values and goals statements approved in June 2013. Messinger has also been building community and employee relationships throughout the district and he is actively engaged in the Colorado legislative process encouraging efforts to improve public education and secure adequate funding.

"Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning," with Mark Wilding & Scott VanLoo
February 17, 2016, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Nalanda Campus RM 9235 

Speaker Information

Mark Wilding is the executive director of PassageWorks Institute and a member of the core faculty at the Institute. In addition to his duties as a director, Mark teaches courses and workshops, facilitates conferences and dialogues, and presents keynotes and lectures. Mark works closely with Institute faculty to develop and deliver programs that support educators to develop the intra-personal and inter-personal capacities necessary to: sustain an authentic teaching practice, engage students, support social, emotional and academic learning outcomes, and collaborate effectively with colleagues. Learn more about Mark online.

Scott VanLoo is an assistant principal at a diverse elementary school in Fort Lupton. He has more than seventeen years of experience in education including elementary and high school teaching and central and building-level administration with a background in Special Education, English Language Learners, Homeless Education, Equity and Diversity training and parent programs. Scott is the former Director of the César Chavez Cultural Center at the University of Northern Colorado where he helped recruit, retain and support hundreds of Latino(a) students and helped raise over $60,000 for endowed student scholarships. He has been a facilitator with the National Coalition for Equity in Education, Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the Generating Expectations for Student Achievement program. As a consultant, Scott is passionate about creating transformational experiences that promote and challenge participants’ thinking and professional growth. Learn more about Scott online.

"Cultivating Enlightened Activity in the Classroom," with Dee Coulter, PhD
March 16, 20166:30–8:30 p.m., Nalanda Campus RM 9235

Dee Joy Coulter, PhD, is a nationally recognized neuroscience educator, known for her unique ability to present complex ideas in clear and humorous ways that are useful for educators. For nearly half a century, Dee has followed her passion for guiding learners into deep enjoyment of their minds. Equipped with a master’s degree in special education from the University of Michigan, she began to impact the field of education. This path often involved creating programs and schools, and her ongoing curiosity about the influence of neuroscience in learning and cognition drew her back to school in the late 1970s to complete her doctorate in neurological studies at the University of Northern Colorado. She has continued to follow neuroscience research since then, weaving it into all of her teaching and speaking work.

"PhotoVoice: Learning the Immigrant Story," with Maria Gabriel, PhD
March 30, 2016, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Nalanda Campus RM 9235

María L. Gabriel, PhD, has worked as a PK-12 Latina educator in public education in Northern Colorado since 1997. She has devoted her career to increasing access and opportunity for culturally and linguistically diverse students through direct student support, family engagement, professional development, and community-based educational research. Dr. Gabriel served as a board member for the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) 2008-2013 and is currently the Vice-President of the Colorado NAME chapter. Her research interests include arts-based and community-based participatory action research, Latina student achievement, and educational equity. She has served on local and national boards focused on equity, and she presents locally, nationally, and internationally on topics related to multicultural education, equity, and student voice. Her joy in life is having fun with her two daughters who are nine and eleven years old.

"Early Childhood Education in Palestine and the Child’s Institute at An Najah," with Deb Young, PhD and Alia Assali, PhD
April 6, 2016, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Nalanda Campus RM 9235


Deborah Young, EdS, PhD, just returned from her third Fulbright. She worked in Palestine during the fall semester at An Najah University integrating Naropa’s mindfulness education with early childhood inclusive education. Her educational framework of popular education embraces contemplative critical pedagogy and participatory action research as way to move towards peace and social and ecological justice. Deborah has set up programs to serve needs locally and internationally. She has volunteered for more than thirty years in programs serving women and children living in impoverished conditions. Deborah has co-founded many schools during the past thirty years including a middle school based on service learning. As a core faculty, she served as chair of the Naropa’s undergraduate education department for twelve years. Her framework of contemplative critical pedagogy is foundational to all the classes she teaches in the Early Childhood Education Program at Naropa.

  • Alia Assali, PhD, is the Dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Teachers’ Training at An-Najah National University in Palestine.   Her teaching includes work in both bachelor's and masters programs in education and supervision of master level thesis in curriculum and gender studies.   She has several published articles dealing with curricula analysis and development, gender issues, citizenship and many other educational topics.  Dr. Assali’s work includes curriculum development, instruction, assessment and the social and emotional lives of children for quality improvement in early childhood and teaching. She has also developed and taught in the women’s studies, the feminization of education, and co-leading the Center for Women and Family Affairs.  She is an activist in human rights issues especially child and women rights and a member or president in several national and regional societies, conferences and committees.
2015 Events

“Calming Kids: Creating A Non-Violent World” With Dee Marie, MA, CYT
April 8, 2015
Inspire peaceful, confident children and teens. Participants in this workshop will learn how to teach classical yoga concepts, instruct simple yoga poses, and guide breathing exercises and concentration techniques to balance the appropriate age level. CALMING KIDS is an evidence based curriculum which uses non-violence strategies to radically improve anger management in pre-school through high school-age students. This yoga therapy program uses Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, to understand how to use specific yoga practices to balance students of all ages. Acknowledging how the elements impact children, teens and adults, and identifying environmental and seasonal changes, can create a knowledge base in which to construct healing curriculums for yourself, your students, or your patients. Both typical and special needs populations will be addressed.

Dee Marie, MA, CYT, is the creator and director of CALMING KIDS: Creating a Non-Violent World an international nonprofit organization that teaches clinical and school yoga programs for children and instructs teacher trainings for educators, health providers and families, specializing in bully proofing. CALMING KIDS received the National Heath Awareness Promotions Award for effective bully proofing programs from the American Medical Association in 2006 & again in 2013. Dee is the SAVE (Stop America’s Violence Everywhere) representative for the State of Colorado. She has a master’s degree in child and motor development from NYU. Certified by the American College of Sports Medicine and trained in yoga by Shri Swami Rama and Mukunda Stiles. Dee Marie has been a yoga therapist for more than twenty-eight years working with all ages and abilities.

“Rewilding Kids And The Need For Wild Play: Let Youngsters Be The Animals They’Re Supposed To Be” With Marc Bekoff
March 18, 2015
In this talk Marc Bekoff discusses what we know about social play behavior in nonhuman animals (animals)—what they do and why they do it—and apply what we've learned about the evolution and development of fair play to what young human animals need to do to become card carrying members of their species. Much early education in schools and homes serves to unwild youngsters and it's essential to "undo the unwilding" early in life to establish a healthy pattern of living for the rest of their lives. One way to rewild kids and to rewild education is to encourage them to get outside and to play in nature and with others to their heart's content. The situation is so dire that there is a United Nations Convention on the rights of the child in which Article 31 is specifically concerned with play. Every country in the world has ratified the convention except for the United States and Somalia. We owe it to children to allow them to be children, to rewild their hearts, so that they will have healthy and balanced lives and spread the rewilding meme to peers and to future generations.

Marc Bekoff, PhD, is a former Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He has won many awards for his scientific research, including the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Marc has published more than one thousand essays (popular, scientific, and book chapters), thirty books, and has edited three encyclopedias. His books include the Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, The Ten Trusts (with Jane Goodall), the Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, the Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships, Minding Animals, Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues: Reflections on Redecorating Nature, The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, Animals at Play: Rules of the Game (a children's book), Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (with Jessica Pierce), The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons For Increasing Our Compassion Footprint, Ignoring Nature No More: The Case For Compassionate Conservation, Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears (with Jill Robinson), Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation, and Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence. The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson) will be published in 2015. In 2005 Marc was presented with The Bank One Faculty Community Service Award for the work he has done with children, senior citizens, and prisoners. In 2009 he was presented with the St. Francis of Assisi Award by the New Zealand SPCA. His homepage is marcbekoff.com and with Jane Goodall http://www.ethologicalethics.org/. Twitter @MarcBekoff

“Gender Diversity In The Early Childhood Classroom” With Deb Young, Beit Gorski, Kenny Yingling, Laurene Phillips
March 4, 2015
In this discussion, we will reach beyond a “Trans 101” understanding of gender diversity to increase awareness around the rights of people who do not fit into the heteronormative standard. Gender identity is formed during the early years. Educators in early childhood have the honor and access to support children and their families to allow safe spaces for children to discover who they are. A gender-neutral environment can help aid childhood safety, acceptance of people for who they are, and reduce internalization of stereotypic gender. This will awaken the participants to an important area of child development that goes unnoticed in most early childhood programs.

“Understanding The Meaning Of Children's Play” With Lisa Dion
February 18, 2015
This workshop is designed to give teachers and caregivers pertinent information on how to understand the meaning behind children's play, so that they can better understand what children are attempting to express. Participants will also learn how to assess a child's nervous system dys-regulation patterns along with what signs to look for in a child's play that indicate concern and possible need for intervention and support. The caregiver and teacher's role will also be addressed.

Lisa Dion is an International teacher, author, Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Play Therapy Supervisor, and clinical supervisor for multiple internship sites across Colorado. As the creator of "Synergetic Play Therapy" and the founder and director of the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado, she trains and supervises therapists across the world in therapeutic skill development and business creation. In addition to her clinical work, she has also launched multiple for-profit and nonprofit businesses and is a business consultant to various organizations worldwide. She is the founder and director of the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado and co-founder of the Quantum Loving Institute. She is also a Certified Gestalt Therapist, Parent Educator, Level II EMDR Practitioner and Certified Facilitator of the Demartini Method™.

“Birth’s Hidden Legacy And The Developmental Brain” With Annie Brook, PHD, LPC
January 21, 2015
People need a sense of safety, comfort, and belonging to ensure curiosity for learning and social development. Safety starts with the primitive brain/bodymind, and can be interrupted or supported based on post-birth care and the experiences related to birth. The adaptive resiliency returns when the bodymind stories are told, heard, and put to rest. In this talk I will speak to the earliest experiences of embodiment, that journey of soul into body during prenatal time. We will look at the organization of self identity related to birth. By examining the physical/emotional/relational imprints of the bodymind, therapists and infant specialists can bring relief to internalized stress. Learning how to recognize and listen to the pre-verbal, pre-cognitive stories of the bodymind releases adaptive neural coupling and creates more free attention so that the brain is ready for new learning and supported curiosity.

Teachers will discover how to recognize double binds inside behavior difficulties or stress responses; how to listen for the hidden stories of early birth or attachment trauma; how to bring ease to a child’s nervous system; when to refer to a specialist; how to hold the energetic field for early development.
Learn more.

Annie Brook, PhD, LPC, Registered Movement Educator, is a master somatic therapist, working in this field for thirty-five years. She has authored three books, From Conception to Crawling, and Contact Improvisation and Body-Mind Centering, her latest, Birth’s Hidden Legacy, which treats the earliest impressions related to birth and prenatal time and how this can influence adult and child behavior. Annie has spent years investigating early development, health, and brain state regulation. She is passionate on how to help children and parents succeed. In addition to therapy skills, Annie is a movement performance artist, and a singer. She co-owns Colorado Therapies in Gunbarrel, and founded The Brook Institute in 2012, where she and her team train therapists in somatic psychology, early attachment, infant development, and movement re-patterning. Annie is passionate about body-mind-spirit, and has engaged in life-long-learning-and- teaching as part of her intention for deep integration of soul’s purpose, life’s mystery, and how to stay present to what arises.

“Living With Autism: Breaking Through Barriers” With Benjamin Tarasewicz
February 4, 2015
Benjamin’s informative and inspiring multimedia presentation Living With Autism: Breaking Through Barriers. Benjamin’s mother gives a brief introductory talk, providing background information and a sense of perspective. Benjamin’s thirty-minute talk is accompanied by engaging photos and other visuals. The presentation is followed by a five-minute performance element (Polynesian poi-swings choreographed to Celtic music). A Q&A period concludes the session.

Benjamin Tarasewicz, a gifted young speaker with high-functioning autism, has been giving inspiring and informational presentations in the Boulder/Denver area. Benjamin is a charismatic speaker who moves his audiences to both laughter and tears. His message is one of hope and perseverance, and he inspires people in all walks of life to meet the challenges in their own lives. Benjamin’s call for compassion and awareness is vital; nationwide, one child in every sixty-eight is being diagnosed with autism. Benjamin was a keynote speaker at the national conference for the U.S. Autism & Asperger Association this past September, and he has presented at CU, Regis, for COD (the Colo. Dept. of Ed.), for SEAC (the Special Ed Advisory Council), and at various middle schools and high schools. Benjamin was honored with the Temple Grandin Award in 2013 and has been recognized by the ASC (Autism Society of Colorado) with their “Compassionate Youth of the Year” award. Benjamin and his mother maintain a website, blog, and Facebook page, all listed under Benjamin Breaking Barriers. His mother has written a memoir titled Benjamin Breaking Barriers: Autism—A Journey of Hope, and the book won the 2014 bronze medal for autobiography from the Reader’s Favorite International Book Award contest.


2014 Events

Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Path
Speaker: Patty Born Selly, MA
Date: April 23, 2014
Location: Lincoln 4130, 2130 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder

Nature offers a host of opportunities for children to develop scientific thinking skills such as inquiry and observation. Scientific learning is not something that happens only in the science stations in the classroom! Opportunities for scientific exploration in the out-of-doors include: the structures we and other animals build, the air we breathe, the changes of seasons, animals, habitats, the list goes on. Whether you have access to a large wilderness preserve or just a few scattered trees at the edge of your parking lot, you have a rich source of material just outside your doors.

Living With Autism: Breaking Through Barriers
Speaker: Benjamin Tarasewicz
Date: April 2, 2014
Location: Lincoln 4130, 2130 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder

This informative and inspiring multi-media presentation begins with Benjamin's mother giving a brief introductory talk which provides background information and a sense of perspective. Benjamin's 30-minute talk is accompanied by power-point slides consisting primarily of engaging photos. The presentation is followed by a 5-minute performance element (Polynesian poi-swings choreographed to Celtic music). A Q&A period concludes the session.

Reading to End Racism
Speaker: Ema Lyman
Date: March 12, 2014
Location: Naropa University Performing Arts Center (PAC), 2130 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder

The Reading to End Racism project is designed to provide engaging and age-appropriate forums in which to explain and explore institutional racism with students in grades K through 8. Through interactive presentations led by volunteer readers, students have an opportunity to listen to literature, personal stories and insights regarding racism; participate in discussions about racism; and gain reinforcement about the power of literature. During these class discussions, students are encouraged to brainstorm and come up with their own ideas to end racism. The many ideas generated have included: stick up for other people, learn about other cultures, talk to and educate racist people, and use the news media to publicize the problem. The presentation will serve as a Volunteer Reader Training, which means that attendees will be ready to volunteer with RER as soon as they can!

Project Learning Tree
Speaker: Kyle Koyle
Date: March 5, 2014
Location: Wilderness Learning Center, 2845 Wilderness Place, Boulder

Project Learning Tree is an award winning, multi-disciplinary environmental education program for educators and students in PreK-12. PLT is one of the most widely used environmental education programs inside and outside the United States. Workshops are active and content-rich, and incorporate reading, technology and differentiated-learning techniques. Activities demonstrate best practices in education methodology such as constructed, cooperative and facilitated learning. Each participant receives curriculum and supporting DVD and materials. Learn how to provide fun, scientific, interactive, multidisciplinary lessons for young learners that engage them with music, movement, food, reading, playing, and exploring their world naturally.

The Emotional Art Of Teaching: Mastering Classroom Social And Emotional Dynamics To Promote Learning
Speaker: Patricia (Tish) Jennings, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Date: February 19, 2014
Location: Naropa University Performing Arts Center (PAC), 2130 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder

At its core, teaching is an emotional practice. The social and emotional dynamics of the classroom play a key role in promoting student learning and fostering prosocial behavior. This interactive session highlights the importance of teachers' social and emotional skills and wellbeing and introduces practical tools for promoting these skills and orchestrating effective social and emotional classroom dynamics that optimize teaching and learning.

Understanding the Meaning of Children's Play
Date: February 5, 2014
Speaker: Lisa Dion

This workshop is designed to give teachers and caregivers pertinent information on how to understand the meaning behind children's play, so that they can better understand what children are attempting to express. Participants will also learn how to assess a child's nervous system dys-regulation patterns along with what signs to look for in a child's play that indicate concern and possible need for intervention and support. The caregiver and teacher's role will also be addressed.