I’ve been in the early childhood field for 22 years.

 

I started out as a teacher’s assistant in a small, independently owned child care center and I’ve been a toddler teacher, a preschool teacher, and a preschool special ed teacher.  

As a preschool special education teacher I first had my own classroom and then worked as a special education itinerant teacher (SEIT) in New York and had the joy of working in many different programs including many Head Start Programs in Brooklyn (yes, I’m name dropping cause I’m a little bit partial to Head Start). 

I was a college professor for 8 years – teaching both early childhood and early childhood special education classes – at Brooklyn College/CUNY and then at California State University, Fresno. 

In Fresno I had the honor of directing the Joyce M. Huggins Early Education Center, a Reggio-inspired program that serves as a model for early childhood practice in California’s Central Valley. I got to work with a truly exceptional group of teachers and two fabulous fellow administrators and I would not be doing what I am doing now without them. I will be forever grateful and changed by having had that opportunity.

I’ve been through NAEYC accreditation both as a teacher (shout out to the University Minnesota Child Development Center back in the 90’s!) and more recently as a center director (WOAH did things get tougher in the last 20 years!) I’ve also been through QRIS reviews, and that’s no joke either!

I am a certified Pre-K CLASS Observer and Trainer. Need help with high quality interactions across the domains? I’m on it.

I hold a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education and an Ed.D. in Early Childhood both from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. 


MY APPROACH

I teach the tried and true strategies. I help with behavior plans. But the real magic happens when we use play and the theater arts. 

By tapping into children’s propensity for play we can work wonders with even the most “difficult children”. We can motivate them to want to listen, cooperate and participate. 

I teach improv-based play-support. It’s a method I developed as a special education teacher while studying at the East Side Institute in New York City. If I had one thing to teach you it would be this. I have used it to connect with all sorts of children, with and without diagnosed disabilities. Children who are oppositional, hard-to-connect with, ones who I’d find myself in constant power struggles with. I’ve used it with children with Down’s Syndrome, Autism, and developmental delays .To help them self-regulate. To learn to play cooperatively with peers. It’s often a back door into preventing challenging behavior and ultimately transforming it. 

As a professor I conducted several research studies investigating how oral storytelling and the theater arts could promote inclusion and prevent challenging behavior. Integrating the theater arts is a key practice in preventing challenging behavior and I guide teachers in doing just that.  Using a puppet. Telling an interactive oral story. Utilizing creative drama. It truly can feel like magic the way these activities can transform your circle time, support children during transitions, and promote children’s social-emotional development.

Want to learn more about my approach?

Want to meet at a conference or see where I hang out?


Looking for a more traditional ABOUT section?

Want to know about my credentials and experience? I’m a certified early childhood and special ed teacher in both NY and CA. Contact me if you want my resume. 

Location

I’m based out of LA. I’m in New York regularly. Get in touch to see when I might be coming to a city near you. Most services available via phone and video conferencing.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT TO KNOW?

 

There’s a crocodile! Training preschool teachers to engage children through interactive oral storytelling

Forthcoming. Storytelling, Self and Society
 

What is the state of play? 

2016. International Play Journal, 5(2), 119-122. 
 

Playing and improvising with challenging behavior: Creating new performances in early childhood special education

2014. Advances in Early Education & Day Care, 18, 87-111.
 

Using improvisational play to support social skills. 

2014. Teaching Young Children, 7(3), 8-10. 
 

Improvisational play interventions: Fostering social-emotional development in inclusive classrooms

2013. Young Children, 68(3), 62–69.
 

The theater arts and early childhood education

2012. In C. Korn-Burstyn (Ed.), Young children and the arts: Nurturing imagination and creativity (199–140). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
 

Play and culture studies 11: Play and performance

2011. With Carrie Lobman, Ed.D. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

 
 

UPCOMING

Please join me!

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 "I like to work with challenging kids": Transforming how you approach challenging behavior using play and the theater arts  

California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC) Conference Ontario Convention Center. Ballroom A. Ontario, CA

Friday March 24, 4:00-5:30 pm

 

Helping teachers transform challenging behavior using play and the theater arts

National Coalition of Campus Children's Centers 45th Annual Conference

Saturday March 25, 9:30-10:15 am, Broadlind B


Recent

“I like to work with kids that hit, bite and do not listen”: Transforming teachers’ work with preschoolers who use challenging behavior

California Head Start Association Conference. Sacramento, CA. January 11-13.

 

“I don’t know what to do with this child!” Transform your relationship with preschool children who hit, bite, scratch, throw temper tantrums and do not listen.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference
Los Angeles, CA. November 2-5, 2016. California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC) Conference Ontario, CA Friday March 24, 4:00-5:30 pam Ontario Convention Center

 

PreK: Creating a culture of inclusion and implementing recommended practices.

With Jennifer Andrade, Cinthia Espino, Emily Kemble, and Catherine Mathis
California Council for Exceptional Children
San Diego, CA. October 14–15, 2016
 

Improv-based play support: Teachers and preschoolers creating new classroom performances

With Jennifer Andrade, Sharon Arias, and Chamreoun Yann
Performing the World Conference
New York, NY. September 23-25, 2016
 

The power of play for transforming challenging behavior

The Sacramento Play Summit
Sacramento, CA. September 10, 2016
 

Transforming challenging behavior through play, interactive storytelling and project-based curriculum

International Early Education Theory and Methods Conference
Anhui Normal University. Anhui, China. July 21-23, 2016
 

Welcoming diverse families into our programs: Practical strategies for inclusion

With Amanda Ibal and Kendra Mull
California Association of Early Childhood Educators Annual Conference
Pasadena, CA. March 31–April 2, 2016
 

Children with special needs: Social integration methods used at a Reggio-inspired center

National Coalition of Campus Children’s Center Conference
Hilton Head, SC. March 10–12, 2016
 

Who’s welcome in our programs? Designing inclusive family intake forms and practices

Division of Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children Conference
Atlanta, GA. October 7–9, 2015
 

I like to work with kids that most teachers consider difficult: Transforming your relationships and work with preschoolers who use challenging behavior

The National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference
Orlando, Fl. November 18–21, 2015
 

Supporting children’s play using improvisational principles

With Jennifer Andrade, Sharon Arias and Chamroeun Yann
The Sacramento Play Summit
Sacramento, CA. September 12, 2015
 

Interactive Storytelling: A Tool for Promoting Inclusion

Central Valley Lab School Inclusion Roundtable
March 20, 2015
 

Supporting children’s play in an inclusive Reggio-inspired Early Education Center 

With Jennifer Andrade, Sharon Arias, and Chamreoun Yann
The Association for the Study of Play Conference
San Antonio, TX. March 4-7, 2015