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2020 Annual Conference Keynote Presentations
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Friday Keynote: Dr. Heather Von Bank

Play is Life & Work as Play: The Importance of Play across the Lifespan

"This is the real secret in life - to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play." ~Alan Watts

What role does play have in the lives of children, families, and adults in modern society? Using a lifespan psychology perspective, Dr. Von Bank will address the importance of play for the development of children's and adults' physical, mental, and social-emotional development. The message that play is evolutionary, play is learning, and play is modeled will be addressed through stories, evidence from research, reflective questions, and playful purposeful activities.

Dr. Heather Von Bank is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Consumer Science at Minnesota State University-Mankato. She teaches courses in the area of Child Development and Family Studies such as Parenting Education, Lifespan Development, and The Role of Play in Child Development. Dr. Von Bank received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Educational Psychology and she is currently the Chair of the Department of Family Consumer Science.

In 2013 Dr. Von Bank co-authored her first book, "The Power of Playful Learning: The Green Edition." She has presented and promoted the power of play at MN Social Service Association Regional Conference, MACMH Conference, the US Play Coalition Annual Conference on the Value of Play, and at the International Play Association Conference. She is on the steering committee for the Children Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato, and volunteers with her children's school and PTA.

Saturday Keynote: Jessica Davis

Deliberate & Intentional Equity

In being named Minnesota's Teacher of the Year, Jessica Davis was described as an educator who is "modeling for students that equity needs to be deliberate and intentional." The pursuit of equity is not a passive effort. There is no neutral. In her keynote address, she will share what deliberate equity work looks like for her, and offer an opportunity for attendees to consider how this work can be deliberate in their respective roles as well.

Jess Davis is a mathematics teacher and advisor of the Black Pride Organization and Mathematics Team at South Saint Paul Secondary School. In May of 2019, she was selected as Minnesota's Teacher of the Year by the state's 86,000 member statewide educators union. The year prior, she was named Teacher of the Year by South Saint Paul's Local Union. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Minnesota State University-Mankato, and a mathematics teaching license and Masters in Teaching from Hamline University.

Jess possess an educational philosophy deeply rooted in student agency. She believes student voice is an essential cornerstone often missing in the revolution of our educational system.

This keynote is sponsored by


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