This year, Idaho AEYC is featuring presenters who can speak to best practice curriculum approaches, with the focus of intentional and reflective practices. Presenters will guide professionals to promote meaningful learning, create inclusive classrooms, and effectively reflect upon and evaluate their own teaching. We are also focusing on topics specific to infants and toddlers, STEM as it relates to young children, and emergent curriculum.

If you are interested in presenting at the 2020 conference, please contact Laurie Demko at

Anji Armagost is passionate about advocating for and serving others, especially children and families. She has been leading the Nutrition Works Team since 2013. Prior to that, she was Director of a NAEYC Accredited child care center focused on inclusive learning.

Deborah Carter, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is a professor and department chair in Early and Special Education at Boise State University. Dr. Carter’s areas of expertise include social-emotional development, positive behavior support and environmental education in early childhood. Her current research and projects focus on implementation of program-wide positive behavior support and integrating social-emotional and environmental education practices in early childhood. Her work has been included in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, Behavioral Disorders, Assessment for Effective Intervention, Intervention in School and Clinic, The Early Childhood Education Journal and Teaching Young Children.

Anne Cirillo has been an educator for 30 years working as a classroom teacher, art teacher and administrator in a variety of programs and schools. Anne is an IdahoSTARS professional development trainer and founded the professional group, The Idaho Early Childhood Roundtables.

Melissa Crist is the Director of Programs for the IdahoSTARS Project at the University of Idaho’s Center on Disabilities and Human Development. Melissa has over fifteen years of experience in early care and education and early intervention. Melissa holds an Idaho Blended Teaching Certification. She presents locally and nationally on topics related to early childhood inclusion and quality early care and education.

Jen Fiora works with Idaho SESTA as a behavioral coordinator, coaching school staff in the Coeur d’Alene area and training staff across the state. Since 2001, she has worked with youth ages 2-17 with a variety of diagnoses and behavioral issues in hospital, home, school, agency and community settings. Jen earned a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism and is working toward certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Alison Giachetti has a decade of progressive experience in early childhood education and a Master of Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University. Her professional history includes positions working with infants to kindergarteners at several NAEYC Accredited centers. Since relocating to Boise in 2015, Alison has held teaching positions at Wesleyan Preschool and Kindergarten (2016) and Boise State University’s Children's Center (2016-2018). Alison is currently the Program Coordinator for Just For Kids.

Sylvia Horning has been working professionally in early childhood for over 20 years and has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood. She works as a lead teacher in the looping program at Boise State University Children’s Center. Over the past year, Sylvia has served as a STEM specialist working with the Idaho Stem Action Center to integrate STEM into the classroom.

Teresa Kross has a Master of Adult Organizational Learning and Leadership and a Bachelor of Elementary Education from the University of Idaho. She recently became employed in the Infant Toddler Program at the Department of Health and Welfare. Teresa previously worked as a Quality Child Care Consultant for Region 4. She is currently honored to be the State Chair for Idaho’s Regional Early Childhood Committees.

Heather Lee received her Master of Early and Special Education from Boise State University and will complete the Early Childhood Technology graduate certificate through Tufts University in July. She has been an early childhood educator for over 20 years. Heather recently became the director of the Boise State University’s Children’s Center and is also serving as the early STEM education coordinator for Idaho STEM Action Center. Her favorite title is being momma to four plucky daughters, ages 16, 12, 8 and 7.

Juli Lull Pool, Ph.D., is an associate professor in Early and Special Education at Boise State University. Dr. Pool received her doctorate in Early Intervention from the University of Oregon. She also holds a Master of Early Intervention from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Elementary and Special Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Pool’s areas of expertise include assessment, response to intervention and early childhood special education. She has published in several professional journals including: Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, Young Exceptional Children, Early Childhood Education Journal, Intervention in School & Clinic and Assessment for Effective Intervention.

Jahziel Maldonado received his Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from Boise State University and is working toward his Master’s degree in Teaching in Early Childhood Intervention. He has been an early childhood educator for eight years. Currently, he serves as a lead teacher in the preschool program at the Boise State University Children’s Center. He moved from Puerto Rico three years ago and enjoys the outdoors and road trips.

Emily Malek is an Early Childhood Consulting Teacher for the West Ada School District. Emily has over ten years of experience working with children with developmental delays and disabilities within the school district setting. She has a blended Early Childhood Special Education/General Education teaching certificate and a Master of Education with an emphasis on Exceptional Children.

Kristy Mathews serves as a STEM specialist and works as a lead teacher at Boise State University’s Children’s Center. She has been teaching for five years and has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Special Education from Idaho State University. Kristy shared that “Education has always been my passion. I enjoy enriching children and watching them grow. Since STEM has been introduced in my classroom, I have seen the children experiment and teach me things I never thought a young child could do. I plan to continue to foster an environment of curiosity and inquiry. I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Christine Meyers-Zacharias had the honor and privilege to work in a large center where the philosophy was based on the RIE approach and the emphasis focused on caregiving as the core of the curriculum. Emergent curriculum was the foundation when planning daily routines and activities. She has experience working in family, church center, corporate and private sector child care programs. Christine received her Master of Early Childhood from Boise State University and Syracuse University.

Renee Miner is the Statewide Associate Director of Idaho Special Education Support and Technical Assistance (Idaho SESTA) Behavior, ASD, and Low-incidence Disabilities at Boise State University. She develops and guides professional development training and supports for Idaho special education teachers and staff members. Renee has made contributions as a special education teacher, a district consulting teacher, and statewide coach for CDHD Autism Support Project.

Nichole Moos has been a teacher at Sun Valley’s Community School for the last six years. Prior to that, she taught in public preschool, Head Start, Kindergarten, and first grade classrooms in both urban and rural schools. Nichole has a Master of Early Childhood Education from West Virginia University and a Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies from Boise State University. In addition to being an Idaho AEYC Board member, she is a member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance.

Tami Olsen has worked in the early childhood profession for over 15 years, mostly with infants and toddlers. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science from Boise State University with an emphasis in Education and Leadership and a Master of Early and Special Education with an emphasis in Literacy from Boise State University.

Samantha Powers serves as a STEM specialist and works as an assistant teacher at Boise State University's Children’s Center. She began her journey in the early childhood profession by volunteering abroad in Russia and Morocco working in orphanages for children with special needs. This led her to nanny for children with developmental disabilities for 12 years. From there, Samantha decided to attend Boise State University and is currently working towards a degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education.

Melissa Smicker is committed to advocating for and investing in early childhood health and nutrition. She holds a Master of Science degree in Nutrition Education from American University as well as CACFP Child Nutrition Professional Certification.

Steffanie Smith serves as a STEM specialist and works as an assistant teacher at Boise State University’s Children’s Center.

Phyllis Vernon is the Nampa/Caldwell Representative on the Idaho AEYC Board of Directors. She has been employed at the Western Idaho Community Action Partnership Head Start in Payette since 1999. At WICAP, she is currently serving as the School Readiness Specialist. Phyllis has an Associate’s degree in Elementary Education from Volunteer State Community College; an Early Childhood Endorsement from Treasure Valley Community College, a Bachelor of Psychology from Walden University and a Master of Education Administration. She is currently serving as the President for AIM Early Idaho.