Workshop focuses on early childhood mathematics

About 50 early childhood educators, administrators and students from seven Western North Carolina counties gathered at Western Carolina University on Friday, Aug. 2, for a daylong workshop, “Why Counting Counts: Developing Effective Teaching and Learning Strategies for Mathematics in Preschool.”

A morning session focusing on what young children learn about counting was led by Kathy Fitzgerald, an early childhood education faculty member at the University of Tennessee. Fitzgerald previously taught at the Henry Barnard Lab School in Rhode Island for nearly 25 years, and while there she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science, said Cathy Grist, associate professor and director for WCU’s birth-kindergarten program.

Afternoon sessions focused on children’s literature and the connection to mathematics learning, intentional math activities, and what preschool teachers need to know about the Common Core State Standards, said Grist. Those sessions were led by Fitzgerald, WCU birth-kindergarten faculty members Lori Caudle and Myra Watson, and two Haywood County educators – Brandi Stephenson, coordinator of that county’s exceptional children program, and Ron Moss, elementary supervisor and director for the preschool through kindergarten program.

Attendees at the workshop represented these schools and organizations: Smart Start of Buncombe County, Asheville City Schools Preschool, Mountain Area Child and Family Center, Odyssey Community School, Community Action Opportunities, Bright Adventures Preschool-Kindergarten, Swain County Schools, Haywood Community College’s Regional Center for the Advancement of Children, Haywood County Schools and the Haywood Instructional Technology Center, Macon Program for Progress, Clay County Inclusive Preschool, Mud Creek Christian School, Tryon Elementary School, First United Methodist Child Development Center, Hazelwood Elementary School, Jonathan Valley Elementary School and Hazelwood Early Education and Preschool.

The workshop was sponsored by WCU’s birth-kindergarten program. The online program provides students with an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in birth-kindergarten with a concentration in early childhood or professional education, and a birth-kindergarten minor also is offered.

For more information about WCU’s birth-kindergarten program, contact Cathy Grist at 828-227-2272 or