Celebrating Early Childhood Literacy: CSPA Let Them Play Gala Recap

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Whenever I’m presented with opportunities to interact with local organizations that share a common goal of promoting early childhood literacy, I jump and fall into them head first. I was contacted by the lovely CSPA President, Erin, a few weeks ago, and although my schedule is literally Cray with a capital C, heir CSPA Let Them Play gala  was an event I couldn’t pass up. Even though I left work a whopping 3o minutes early to get ready for this black tie event, I got my frumpy act together and donned a perfectly spring mint Lulu’s gown with gold accessories. Like I said, the dress code said black tie, but let’s be real… it’s April, and April is not the time to wear black. Sorry not sorry.


Gown: Lulu’s | Earrings: Express | Heels: Zigi Soho


The 1st annual Let Them Play Gala, held at The UCF Fairwinds Alumni Center on Thursday evening, was one of the most charming productions I’ve ever attended. As this was their first year out the gate–their inaugural appearance, shall we say?, the pool of attendees was quaint but energetic. My BFF, Ri, and I were seated at a table with several parents of Creative School for Children graduates and a handful of renown UCF professors, so we basically had to act like grown ups for 3 hours, which is doable and forever entertaining. As alumni ourselves, we engaged in wonderful conversation about the university, its growth, and its potential, particularly in the early childhood education department.



After a social reception and a delicious dinner catered by Classic Fare Catering, it was time for the keynote speaker, Dr. Becky Bailey. As a former preschool teacher myself, I’ve heard of Dr. Bailey, but I wasn’t at all familiar enough to intelligently regurgitate any of her research. Oh my word, not only is she a phenomenal speaker/entertainer (we were laughing approximately 45% of the time), but her internationally-renowned expertise in childhood education and developmental psychology was on point. Not to bore anybody with the details, but she touched on the primary topics of what she calls “conscious discipline” and the importance of managing emotional mayhem amongst both children and parents. I’m seriously disappointment that I wasn’t able to apply these techniques in my classroom! For any parents or teachers reading this, give her a Google!



And then after Dr. Bailey brought the house down with her informative eloquence, it was time for two plates of UCF-themed dessert and awkward wedding-style dancing. I’m not knocking dancing at weddings, by the way; it’s my favorite type of exercise. However, when you and three other women are the only people dancing to “Baby Got Back,” it turns into more of a show than a community activity. Whatever, even white boys got to shout, “Baby.Got.Back.”




Ri and I genuinely had such a great time, and the fire beneath my advocating feet was lit once again. It’s time to get my act together; no matter how stressful work gets or how caught up I get in Miss Florida USA preparation, my passion and personal mission lies in bettering the educational resources available to early learners.

Plus, I’m always down for any excuse to put on a perdy gown. Who else loves to frolic around at galas from time to time?


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