News From the Field

REL Southwest Conducts Early Education Symposium at Bains Elementary in Louisiana

On December 10, 2015, REL Southwest held a highly successful and well-attended symposium bridging research, policy, and practice in early childhood education at Bains Lower Elementary school in Louisiana. Attendees learned about the high-quality early learning program at Bains, which is part of West Feliciana Parish School District, the state's top-ranked district in kindergarten readiness.

Bains Elementary early learning students set the tone for the full-day symposium by reciting the pledge of allegiance and “7 Habits of Happy Kids,” a set of effective habits from Stephen Covey’s The Leader in Me program. Attendees toured the program and met some of the children.

Keynote speaker Dr. Virginia Buysse’s talk covered trends and issues in early learning, including the need for robust and supported assessment of children and programs. The day was rounded out with discussions with an expert panel facilitated by Dr. Darlene Brown, liaison with the REL Southwest Louisiana Charter Schools Research Alliance. The panel and breakout sessions covered topics of special relevance to early education teachers, including policies and trends in the field, Louisiana state policies, using data to improve early literacy, and practical methods for increasing math competency.

Read more about the event in West Feliciana’s The Advocate.

Photo Gallery


Virginia Buysse, Ph.D., a principal researcher at American Institutes for Research and previously a senior scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, gave the keynote address.


Attendees enjoyed a tour of the Bains Elementary School.


Attendees enjoyed a tour of Bain's high-quality early education program.


Hollis G. Milton, superintendent of West Feliciana Parish School, spoke about the district’s success in offering innovative, high-quality early education programs.


Attendees heard from expert speakers and panelists.


Brian Mowry, prekindergarten instructional specialist with the Austin Independent School District, presented on the What Works Clearinghouse Teaching Math to Young Children Practice Guide.


Attendees participated in hands-on learning activities.


Sheryl Turner, a senior research associate at RMC Research Corporation, presented on strategies to improve early literacy.