Since part of my position includes directing our licensed child development center, I made it a priority this year to tap into some of the many continuing education opportunities for those in early childhood education. NAEYC is probably the biggest and most well known organization for early childhood and when I saw their annual conference was in Los Angeles this year, I knew I had to go! LA was on the short list of vacation ideas we had so this killed 2 birds with 1 stone.
I flew in a few days earlier than Jason to attend the conference. It was hosted at the LA Convention Center, adjacent to LA Live. LA Live is a dining/entertainment district that also houses the Staples Center, Microsoft Theater, and Grammy Museum along with tons of restaurants and a few high end hotels. While I was there, the area stayed packed in the evening (Lakers played one night, Kings another) + concerts at the Theater.
The convention hotel was the JW Marriott and I was able to snag a room there, which was super convenient as many of the sessions I attended were in their ballrooms. As expected, the hotel was fantastic. My room was very large, with a spacious bathroom and excellent amenities:
I felt very safe in that area, even late at night, and the hotel staff was excellent and accommodating to any request I had.
Note: I’ll be sharing restaurant reviews on my food blog soon so I won’t bore you with those 🙂
The first night, I had hoped to have energy to get out into the city some but reality was something else. The opening keynote speaker was Sonia Manzano, who played Maria on Sesame Street, and she was excellent. It also gave me an idea for just how many people were in attendance!
By the time that ended, and I grabbed dinner, I had been awake for nearly 20 hours and just crashed and burned.
The next day, however, I did venture out to the California Science Center! Prior to the trip, I discovered they had a special exhibit titled “The Science Behind Pixar” and as Disney/Pixar is amazing, I had to go. They were selling out quickly and no spots were available on the days Jason was in town so I grabbed a ticket for myself and went (via Uber).
Prior to my timed entrance, I explored the museum a bit – the coolest included seeing the Endeavor! Part of the exhibit includes watching it’s journey to CA (so neat!), seeing an external tank, and reading about each trip it made before being retired.
The Pixar exhibit was amazing! It was very interactive and since they utilize timed entries, there were minimal crowds and you never had to wait to try something out.
It was geared towards middle school and older, and though there were some bored kids running around, most in attendance were adults. The hand’s on activities were all very math/science related – I was clearly in over my head. As a Disney fan, it illustrated again just how much goes into these movies we all love.
Part of the issue with NAEYC was there were TOO many fantastic sessions I wanted to attend and not enough time! Good problem to have, I know 🙂 So by Friday, I realized that if I was going to visit the Grammy Museum, I had to miss a session… and if I wanted to tour the Expo, I had to miss a session… thankfully, both were worth it!
The Grammy Museum was right near my hotel and they were offering free admission to anyone with a NAEYC badge. Score!
The Grammy’s are held right there at the Staples Center so it made sense the museum was also there. It was not huge but very well done. I spent about 45 minutes there and thought it would have been worth the reasonable $12 admission cost even if I had to have paid it. Again, interactive and lots of memorabilia.
The Expo is what some conventions call the resource fair. It’s vendor booths with products and handouts. Except this was unlike any resource fair I had ever been to. It was MASSIVE.
I’m a NAEYC member and they even had a member lounge amidst the booths (y’all – you get worn out halfway through!) with a barista. Free of charge. And he made me an amazing pumpkin spice latte.
There are few things that get me more excited than early childhood products. I LOVE buying new stuff for our preschool rooms and adding new teaching materials to our resource room. I’m always on the hunt for a better made product or a way to save money on our consumable stuff. Let’s just say it was a good thing I had just 1 suitcase with me 🙂 I did place a bunch of orders when I got home, though!
NAEYC is now a must-do for me as long as I continue to be in a role with this much leadership over an early childhood program. Next year is in Atlanta (aka – can haul more back)!
Next post… Hollywood (and Jason’s arrival!)