Aug 3 2023

Attending the 2023 National Smart Start Conference

Attending the 2023 National Smart Start Conference
Smart Start is North Carolina’s nationally-recognized initiative to ensure that every child reaches his or her potential and is prepared to succeed in a global community. Smart Start helps working parents pay for child care, improves the quality of child care, and provides health and family support services in every North Carolina county.

Back in April, Sarah Pelkey and I had the pleasure of traveling down to Greensboro, NC for the National Smart Start conference and had the opportunity to see the passion of its participants ignite the venue.  

For those unfamiliar with Smart Start, it is a program that works with The North Carolina Partnership for Children, which has 75 partnerships overseeing all 100 counties in North Carolina. Smart Start's goal is to ensure that every child, across the state of North Carolina, is fully prepared to begin their academic career by the time they start Kindergarten by promoting early childhood literacy, among other initiatives that foster school readiness.

It was heartwarming to finally meet some of our customers face-to-face and meet brand new people just as excited about early childhood education as we are. I enjoyed watching so many people approach our booth smiling wide, seeing some of the classic books we carry, recognizing them as personal favorites, and the excitement of discovering new titles.  

I had the opportunity to discuss what types of books you are seeking for your programs, and we heard you loud and clear: you love socio-emotional and diversity-themed books! We are excited to be able to offer both topics in theme packs, in our catalog, and online, as well as individual titles. We loved hearing your opinions and ideas about the books we offer, and we look forward to continuing to meet the needs of Smart Start and other literacy programs around the nation!  

The evening before we hopped on a plane back to Central New York, we attended the keynote dinner, where Dr. Sampson Davis, founder of The Three Doctors Foundation and coauthor of several New York Times bestsellers, gave a moving keynote speech recounting his rise to success through the help of school initiatives that empowered him and his two classmates to achieve their dream of becoming doctors. We also heard from Rachel Hunt, daughter of James Hunt, Governor who signed Smart Start into law in 1993, stating her father said it was the most important thing he did while in office. Following emotional speeches and a decadent dinner, it was time to celebrate the accomplishments and the future of Smart Start with music, dancing, and laughter, all to celebrate the advocacy of all children and fostering successful futures for them. I found myself blown away by the passion Smart Start participants and supporters have and feel confident that the future of early childhood education is in excellent hands.   

I’m so honored to have attended this conference and met so many inspiring people leading the way for a brighter future for all children. I left the venue feeling the energy of hope and dedication. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again! 


Shannon Eustice
Hey there, I’m Shannon Eustice

Shannon joined the Sales and Marketing team in 2022 and we are so glad to have her with us at All About Books. Her friendly personality, amazing efficiency, and love of books has already blown us away and makes her a pleasure to work with.