Elizabeth Hartford, children’s book author and licensed clinical social worker, was the keynote speaker at a recent statewide educators’ workshop held at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast. Hartford delivered her remarks at the fifth annual S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your Teaching Workshop on Saturday, March 19.

As a former outpatient school counselor, Hartford became alarmed as she encountered an increasing number of people with mood disorders. The Maine Children’s Alliance has noted that Maine has a disproportionate number of children dealing with anxiety issues. According to Hartford, ”This has only [been] worsened by the pandemic. Initial thoughts are that we need to implement the latest evidence based models of treatment and curriculum across schools, medical facilities, and workplaces.” Hartford has written two children’s books, including one called The Bear in the Chair, focused on teaching simple emotion regulation skills. Her keynote presentation entitled “Connecting Body and Mind” addressed strategies that both adults and children can use to relieve stress and anxiety and explained the science behind the techniques. One participant remarked, “Keynote Elizabeth Hartford was awesome. She helped us understand why some children can’t help acting out. She also gave us tips as to how to help children as well as ourselves relax…” Hartford’s engaging program was well-received by the attendees.

Other workshop sessions addressed such topics as motivation, observing nature, outdoor education curriculum, sensory issues, genealogy, using newspapers to teach history, integrated literacy, and inclusiveness.

The workshop was sponsored by the Maine State Organization of DKG International, a philanthropic society of women educators whose mission is to impact education worldwide. This was the fifth year, beginning in 2017, that Maine’s DKG group has offered a professional development workshop for educators. The pandemic forced its cancellation in 2020, and it was held virtually in 2021 during one full day and six consecutive Wednesday evenings to great success.