Kristen Johnson has 21 years of experience as a special educator. She has spent the past 15 years working in early childhood education. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary and Special Education. She furthered her formal education with a graduate certificate in Autism Studies from Johns Hopkins University along with master’s coursework in educational leadership and assistive technology. Kristen has taught in PreK through 5th grade classrooms and provided specialized instruction to students in childcare settings. She recently began a new role as the Early Childhood Special Education Specialist for Calvert County Public Schools. She works with early childhood classrooms across her district to give educators the tools they need to increase inclusive opportunities for diverse learners. She views herself as a lifelong learner, priding herself on staying up to date with research-based best practices. Kristen is a champion for inclusive and equitable education and serves as a member of her district’s equity leadership team. Along with her certifications in elementary, early childhood, and special education, she is certified in teaching ESOL. Kristen values collaboration and a team approach. She works closely with her district’s Head Start Program, Department of Instruction, and Department of Special Education to provide ongoing staff trainings as well family engagement opportunities. She uses the coaching philosophy when working with other educators and families to provide them with the problem-solving skills and tools to meet their children’s evolving needs. Kristen has worked with the Maryland State Department of Education to provide staff development across the state and has created curricular resources for the MSDE Inspired Designers Program. She enjoys sharing her love of learning, best practices in education, and child development through presenting at local, state, and national conferences. Kristen is also an early childhood LETRS trainer. She writes curriculum for her district. Kristen emphasizes the value of play-based learning and has worked within her district and state to advocate the importance of play and provide trainings for public school, private preschool, and childcare staff. Kristen feels that a silver lining of the pandemic was better connecting families with early childhood educators through virtual learning and has taken steps to ensure that educators continue to use technology to reach out to families. Early intervention and education should not be confined to a school day or therapy session. Rather, an essential role of early intervention and education should be providing families with the knowledge and tools to help their children develop skills in the most natural settings, the home and community. She loves Maya Angelou’s quote “When you know better, you do better” and strives to give families, community members, and other educators the knowledge they need to be meet every child’s needs and bring forth a brighter future. Kristen hopes to gain skills to better build educators’ capacity to presume competence through effectively communication her vision while managing change. Her goal is to bring her vision of inclusive settings with properly trained staff to meet the needs of all children in natural environments to reality.