Parent Conference, November 2


1st Annual Parent Conference
Cancelled due to the government shutdown

Saturday, November 2


Register Now     〉


Playgroup in the park is pleased to announce its 1st Parents in the Park National Conference called Windows of Opportunity.  The conference program has been carefully created for parents by a team of early childhood experts.  Renowned scientists and educators will meet with parents to lead conversations on such topics as “Your fantastic elastic brain: Current brain research and how it informs parenting and teaching” (JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.) and “Neuroscience goes to school: how to use brain research in the classroom” (Valaida ‘Val’ Wise, Ed.D.)

This conference represents a groundbreaking idea of bringing scientific researchers, educators and parents together under one roof to learn side-by-side.  The inspiration for the conference came from Laura Martin, M.Ed., who is the founder of Play Group in the Park.  Ms. Martin hopes that parents walk away from the conference feeling inspired to apply the latest brain research on child development and learning at home.  Just as importantly, she hopes parents feel connected to a community that can sustain this important conversation between scientists, researchers, and parents.

The 1st Parents in the Park National Conference: Windows of Opportunity will take place on November 2nd, 2013 at the historic Glen Echo Park in Maryland.  For more information and to register, please visit, download the flyer Flyer copy-1


Join the collaboration!

Registration begins September 1


We invite you to be inspired by an exciting program including talks by two leaders in early childhood education: award- winning author JoAnn Deak, and Valaida “Val” Wise, Head of the Harbor School.


IMG_0155_2Laura O. Martin, Director, Pedagogista, & Atelierista

Laura is founder of the organization PGiP (Playgroup in the Park) at Glen Echo National Park.  She is currently the Head of School, Pedagogista and Atelierista. Laura holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Purdue University,  and a M.Ed. from National Louis University in Heidelberg, Germany.  Her thesis, “Building a Bridge between Parents and Pedagogy.” was the starting point for Playgroup in the Park.  Laura participated in a Reggio Emilia Study tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy and has applied the Reggio approach as a parent for the past 13 years. In addition she is Montessori Apparatus Certified from the Montessori Centre International in London, England. She taught Summer Connections at a Reggio Emilia inspired Preschool in Washington, DC. The first Play Group she organized was in Charlotte, NC.  Laura had the wonderful experience to live in many places; Heidelberg, Germany, London, England, NYC, Charlotte, Boston, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and has spent a great deal of time in San Francisco and Dallas.  Before children she was Director of Training for Keep America Beautiful, founded and managed a boutique consulting firm, Impact Training, was Manager/Retail Trainer for Franklin Covey and Materials Manager for DuPont. Laura lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and two children.


IMG_0152_2 Dr JoAnn Deak 
Dr. JoAnn Deak is a widely recognized educator and psychologist who works with children, adults, teachers and parents. She is well known for demystifying complex issues of child development, learning, identity formation and brain research. She consults with organizations, schools and parenting groups across the United States and internationally, is the recipient of many outstanding awards, and is the author of Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, How Girls Thrive and Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters. She is presently working on a trilogy: Your Fantastic Elastic Brain for Children, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain for Adolescents, and Your Fantastic Elastic Brain for Adults.


IMG_0151_2Dr Valaida “Val” Wise 
Valaida “Val” Wise is currently the Head of School at The Harbor School in Bethesda, Maryland. An educator for almost 20 years, Val received a Bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from Syracuse University, an M.A.T. from Trinity College, Washington D.C. and holds a doctorate in Education from George Washington University.
A recent Brava award winner, Val has lectured internationally, most recently on the topic of educational philosophy at Tanjian University, and various provinces such as Nanning and Dandong in China. She was also a presenter at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) 2013 national conference. Val has written several articles on Montessori education and educational leadership in early childhood. Her most recent article: A Critical Absence in the Field of Educational Administration: Framing the (Missing) Discourse of Leadership in Early Childhood appears in the 2012 summer addition of the International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation.