top of page

2024 Presenters
as presenters are confirmed, they will be added below! 


Annie Patterson

Annie Patterson’s voice, musicianship and infectious enthusiasm has ignited audiences across North America and abroad for over 3 decades. She is the co-creator, along with her husband Peter Blood, of the iconic sing-along songbooks Rise Up Singing and its sequel Rise Again. A multi-instrumentalist, Annie’s musical repertoire ranges from folk and Blues to gospel and jazz. Accompanying herself and others on banjo, guitar, snare and cajón, she has performed and/or toured with notable musical artists Emma’s Revolution, Charlie King, Magpie, Sally Rogers, Reggie Harris, Lou and Peter Berryman, Joe Jencks, and more. Annie is a member of New England based bands Big Yellow Taxi and Dear Ella and has been a longtime vocalist with the swing band Girls from Mars. Annie and Peter Blood’s work with folk legend Pete Seeger is documented in the film entitled We Began to Sing

Annie is wondering: “What helps me stand in my power?”

April Zajko
April Zajko, M.Ed. supports educators at various career stages, ranging from pre-service students in community college courses to seasoned professionals. Dedicated to reigniting JOY in teaching, April delivers an inspiring message through her professional development offerings. April leads educator trainings, captivating keynote presentations, nature-based college courses, and virtual professional development series honor children and boosts the well-being of teachers. As the moderator of the thriving Facebook group, "Nature Inspired Teacher," April fosters a vibrant community of over 15,000 engaged educators.


April is wondering:


"What happens to the growth of our courage when we gain clarity in our communications?"


Over the past fifteen years, April's mission has been to heal from, unlearn, and disrupt non-affirming teaching practices. April's non-linear journey as an educator spans multiple countries (and across a variety of educational settings) and her background is in special education, psychology, and trauma-informed practices. April is passionate about educator well-being and supports educators in a multitude of capacities including facilitating wellness circles and teaching mindfulness and trauma-supportive school courses. April reminds us to lean into humanity, compassion, and joy and disrupt the toxic teaching practices and mindsets that harm us and the children in our care. She's a dreamer, a lover of play, and constantly curious. April lives with her husband, daughters, and rambunctious rottweilers in Vermont.

April Brown

April is wondering:
"Have you checked in with your heart lately? How do we truly nurture ourselves while taking care of others?"

Mikaela Simms

Mikaela Simms has been working as WSESU Director of Equity and Social Justice for 15 years. She arrived in Vermont by way of the San Francisco Bay Area and Guinea West Africa; where She taught middle school with an emphasis on Social Justice. In her current role she emphasizes humanizing every situation and making connections across disciplines and other dividing lines. “Our job as educators is to be curious about every student and colleague. It is through deep inquiry that we learn about ourselves and the equitable world we wish to build.” 


Mikaela is wondering:

” How we can meet the needs of every student, every human without applying deficit thinking to that person or their circumstance?"


Angela Bayer- Persico

Angela has been a director and head teacher for her childcare for over 25 years and earned her Master’s in early childhood. She ensures quality standards by being NAFCC Accredited. Angela travels to State capitols and DC to advocate for children’s rights and education. She is a motivational speaker talking from personal experiences and stories that make the listeners feel her passion and connect.

She is the author to “Journey of an Accredited Provider”. She has also authored articles in ECE magazines including Exchange article January 2021: “Trauma Informed Care”.

Angela works as an independent consultant across the nation. She has presented at NAFCC national conferences for the last 10 years and local and State conferences on various topics catered to the needs of the participants inspiring them with her insight and love. Angela also works as a bi-lingual trainer/ specialist and mentor for providers.    


2023 Presenters

Rich is a resident of Wantastegok (Brattleboro, VT) and immersed in the stories layered within this landscape. He serves as Chair for the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs and is a public liaison and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Elnu Abenaki, members of the contemporary northeastern Native community. Rich is founder and co-director of the Atowi Project. His work draws upon history, linguistics, geography, and culture to share beneficial ways of seeing and being in relationship with place.

Rich Holschuh


Stasia teaches women how to build a loving and trusting relationship with their today-bodies through style. No, that’s not a typo. She said STYLE. As a somatically informed Style Activist, Stasia will ask you how you want to FEEL, and provide you with the tools, practices, and supports needed to help you step away from what’s culturally been deemed “appropriate” for your size, your weight, your shape, your age, your role, your gender, so you have the confidence to unapologetically wear what you want to wear, rules be damned! While most of us learned to abandon authenticity for approval to ensure our emotional safety, Stasia’s work teaches women how to HAVE THEIR OWN BACKS, so they can show up CONGRUENTLY, from the inside out. 


Jed Norris

Jed is the Director of Farm Based Youth Programs at Shelburne Farms and he has the opportunity to work with our preschool adventures program, our school programs, our summer camp program and in our professional development with educators program. Prior to that he worked as a program director at Burlington Childrens Space and previously he worked as a mentor teacher at the UVM Campus Childrens School. Throughout all of my work experiences he has always found himself drawn to being outside and with making food and any day when he can combine the both of them he knows is going to be a great day.


Chelsea Brown 

Chelsea Brown has been an elementary art teacher for 13 years. She is also the 2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year for the state of WI. She is passionate about using the art curriculum to teach students about art, in addition to life skills; such as perseverance, problem solving, and craftsmanship. She is a big advocate for student, teacher and parent mental health. 


Stephanie Krause

Stephanie lives in beautiful Bend, OR with her family and loves running (some seasons hiking more than running) trails in the mountains w​ith her four legged running buddy Merry. She’s approaching 30 years of work in the field of early care and education, with the last 14 invested as owner/operator of a private child care program in Bend, Bloom Children’s Center.


Two notable descriptions by friends telling others about who Stephanie is:

“She’s the eclectic one!”

“She’s like your grandma, but she’s not a grandma!”


April Zajko

April Zajko, M.Ed. is a nature-based early childhood educator and a faculty member of the Community College of Vermont. She is the founder and owner of April’s Teaching Tree, which aims to help parents and educators deepen their interest in connecting to nature. Over the last thirteen years, April has led ECE professional development with hundreds of providers around the state of Vermont. 


bottom of page