2019 Keynote Speakers

Dr. Debbie Pushor

Dr. Debbie Pushor is a professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Through her research, Dr. Pushor pursues narrative inquiries, specifically into parent knowledge, engagement, and leadership. In both her undergraduate and graduate teaching, Dr. Pushor often centres on underrepresented conversation about the positioning of parents in relation to schools. In association with the Parent Engagement Collaborative (graduate student cohort), she published a book titled Promise: Transforming Beliefs and Practices through a Curriculum of Parents(Sense Publishers, 2013). Co-written with the Parent Engagement Collaborative II, a second book, Living as Mapmakers: Charting a Course with Children Guided by Parent Knowledge(Sense Publishers, 2015), served as an extension to the aforementioned work. Dr. Pushor and the Parent Engagement Collaborative III are currently creating a video series for parents and educators that presents concepts from the first two books, but in a different form.

In Dr. Pushor’s early career, she worked as a teacher, consultant, principal, and central services administrator. Through her experiences as a parent of school-aged children, she began to attend to the positioning of parents in relation to schools. Dr. Pushor’s teaching areas focus on: parent and family engagement, community education, narrative inquiry, and early childhood education.


Dr. Marjorie Kostelnik

Dr. Majorie Kostelnik received a bachelor of science in childhood development from the University of Pittsburg and soon began working with Head Start. Later, Dr. Kostelnik completed graduate and doctoral degrees in human development and family studies from the Pennsylvania State University. She was on faculty at Michigan State University for 22 years, serving as a professor and program supervisor of the Children Development Laboratories and later, as chair of the Department of Family and Child Ecology. During this time, she worked with educators in 100+ programs, both inside and outside the United States. Work-related points of interest included designing developmentally appropriate curriculum, enhancing children’s school readiness, and working with teachers to develop positive child guidance strategies.

Dr. Kostelnik is the author of 58 articles/chapters, as well as 17 books. She is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Early Childhood Research and Practiceand the Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education.


Dr. Susan Hopkins

Dr. Susan Hopkins is the executive director of the MEHRIT Centre, where she came to the role in June 2015. As a one-time, at-risk youth who quit high school twice, Dr. Hopkins holds personal experience as related to the importance of self-regulation for the well-being and learning of today’s young people. She is a highly experienced educator with four university degrees, including a master’s in educational technology and a doctorate in educational leadership.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Hopkins has been a teacher, school administrator, inclusive schooling coordinator, curriculum developer, educational researcher, and educational leader. She has worked in every area of education from the early years to post-secondary, from remote northern schools to the Department of Education, and across contexts that include Italy and the Northwest Territories. A passionate advocate for children, families, and communities, she is dedicated to Dr. Shanker’s vision of “calm, alert children, youth, and adults flourishing in physically and emotionally nurturing environments.”



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