Within The Framework Webinar
Partnering with Success: Stories from Early Childhood Professionals and Family Engagement

Within The Framework Webinar Series

December 1, 2020
3:00PM ET
Duration: 58 min



Today more than ever there is a need to reach out and make positive connections with the families who we work with. In this webinar, you will hear from three panelists and their voices from the perspective of an inclusion early childhood special education classroom teacher, a program coach, and a mental health specialist. Each of the panelist will share successful tips and strategies for engaging and connecting with families in-person and virtually.

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Ben Riepe

Ben Riepe, University of Denver

Ben Riepe (NCPMI) MA is an Inclusion Coaching Specialist for the Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center at the University of Denver. Ben is staff on the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations in addition to supporting the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA). He has 20 years of experience as a teacher, coach, trainer, and TA specialist supporting high fidelity program-wide implementation of the Pyramid Model with families of diverse backgrounds in Colorado.

Johanna Wasser

Johanna Wasser, University of Denver

Johanna Wasser is a Senior Research Assistant for Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center at the University of Denver. Her current projects include LEAP Model and PTR-YC consultation; and is part of the NCPMI Family Engagement Work Group. Johanna has dedicated her professional career to promoting social emotional competence and inclusion practices in early childhood education for over 20 years and has been a coach of the Pyramid Model since 2007. She has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and maintains her license as an Early Childhood Special Education. Johanna has worked with children, families and professionals in a variety of settings including home, community, early childhood programs, and public school districts. When Johanna is not hard at work she enjoys spending time with her family and playing in the mountains.

Sandra Contreras

Sandra Contreras, Ability Connection Colorado

Sandra is a Level 3 F.C (Family Coach) specializing in families that require third tier support due to trauma. Her current studies for trauma certification to add to 25 years of experience working in the field. Sandra prides myself on cultivating a professional background of leadership roles in working in public school, Head start and Montessori education and is a long time member of ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). Her work with children and families largely centers around her goal of, inclusion and integration of cultures, while embracing our differences.

Jenna Mejia

Jenna Mejia, Malheur ESD Early Intervention

Jenna Mejia is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher in eastern Oregon and has a Master’s degree in ECSE. She currently leads an inclusive preschool classroom, creating and implementing specially designed instruction for children of all abilities. Jenna’s classroom is a certified LEAP model classroom. She is eager to share her passion for inclusive education and developmentally appropriate strategies for reaching students and families with other professionals. Jenna enjoys working and living in the community where she was raised with her husband and three children.  

Margaret Olem

Margaret Olem

Margaret Olem is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of early childhood mental health for 10+ years. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a Masters of Science in Social Work Margaret worked for six years at The Home for Little Wanderers in the Preschool Outreach Program as a Child and Family Clinician and later in the Early Childhood Training Institute as a Clinical Trainer. During her time at The Home Margaret had the ability to work individually with children birth-10 years old and their families, as well as serving as a mental health consultant in Head Start sites and licensed early childhood programs around the greater Boston area. As a clinical trainer Margaret had the opportunity to facilitate trainings and workshops around the state of MA with diverse topics related to early childhood mental health and social emotional development. From 2018-2019 Margaret worked at Boston Children’s Hospital as a Clinical Social Worker in the Ophthalmology department, and her role was to support patients and families around their diagnoses, navigating hospital systems, and connecting to community resources. Margaret now works as an independent consultant and has been able to continue her work on several state-funded Pyramid Model Initiatives, where she serves as an external coach to school district and program-level Leadership teams as they work to implement Pyramid Model practices and plan for sustainability of their efforts. Margaret also continues to consult and train around early childhood trauma/ chronic stress, trauma-informed care, and social emotional development.