Jessica L. MacLeod, M.S., (Workshop Presenter and Co-investigator) is the director of the URI Child Development Center (CDC), a NAEYC accredited laboratory preschool, on the Kingston Campus. She has expertise in early learning program leadership, early childhood education, child development, and teaching young children as well as adult learners. A certified Early Childhood Education (ECE) Teacher, Jessica has experience teaching in a Head Start program as well as 10 years of experience teaching kindergarten and preschool children at the URI CDC prior to becoming the Education Coordinator and Administrator. She holds both classroom level and program level certificates in the Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards. Jessica has an extensive record of successfully partnering with different sectors of the ECE field, including Head Start, Family Child Care Homes, and various early learning programs, to develop and present professional development that supports programs and professionals in implementing quality improvement efforts aligned with evidence-based best practice. In addition to teaching college courses at URI, Jessica also co-presents professional development series at the Center for Early Learning Professionals. Jessica will be involved in developing and delivering professional development trainings as well as coordinating the use of the CDC as an observation site.
Delia C. Hall, M.S. (Workshop Presenter) is the director of the URI Dr. Pat Feinstein Child Development Center (CDC), a NAEYC accredited laboratory preschool, on the Providence Campus. She has expertise in early learning program leadership, early childhood education, child development,and teaching young children as well as adult learners. A certified Early Childhood Education (ECE) Teacher, Delia has 12 years of experience teaching kindergarten and preschool children at the URI Dr. Pat Feinstein Child Development Center prior to becoming the Education Coordinator and Administrator. Delia holds both classroom level and program level certificates in the Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards. She successfully partners with varying sectors of the ECE field, working to develop and present professional development that supports programs and professionals in implementing quality improvements aligned with evidence-based best practice. In addition to teaching one college course per semester at URI, Delia is an on-going trainor for the RIELDS classroom series through the Rhode Island Department of Education and the Northern RI Collaborative. Delia will be involved in developing and delivering professional development trainings as well as coordinating the use of the Providence Dr. Pat Feinstein CDC as an observational site.
Phyllis Carella Penhallow, M.S., CFLE (On-site Coach) Phyllis is a senior lecturer in the department of Human Development and Family Science at URI teaching courses in perspectives on parenting, child development, early childhood curriculum, and family life education. In addition, she coordinates the senior capstone internship in human services. Phyllis has worked in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years as a teacher, program director, education coordinator, and trainer. She has been a professional mentor-coach to coordinators, teachers, assistant teachers, preservice early childhood students, and volunteers. Experiences include working in three university laboratory centers and kindergarten programs and starting three early childhood centers where she acquired knowledge in licensing and insurance regulations, safety issues, budgets, marketing, employee policy and procedure manuals, and hiring. Phyllis is also a certified ECE Teacher, a Certified Family Life Educator and has been a certified trainer for the Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards series. Utilizing practicality and humor throughout her career, she has designed and implemented evidence-based trainings and workshops for parents and teachers. Phyllis has considerable experience working with infants and toddlers and teaching effective guidance techniques focused on child development. Phyllis’s genuine love for people and wide-ranging years of practice enables her to effectively engage adults, college students, and children by using interactive strategies. Phyllis will be involved in developing and delivering professional development workshops and will provide on-site consulting and professional feedback to Summer Institute participants.
Julianna C. Golas, M.S., (On-site Coach) is a lecturer in Human Development and Family Science at the University of Rhode Island. Julianna has over 20 years of experience teaching at the University and has extensive experience in providing professional development training to early childhood classroom teachers and home based providers. She has expertise in the area of children’s language and literacy development with an emphasis on birth through age 5. Additionally she has much experience and has been recognized for her ability to design interactive and engaging class content for college aged and adult learners. Julianna has a long history of working with state education partners and has played a role in several state education initiatives including coordinating the University of Rhode Island’s Early Childhood Workforce Knowledge and Competency Alignment Project, served as the Local Project Coordinator for the Rhode Island State Pre-K Project, and was a Research Assistant for the New England Head Start Teaching Center. Julianna will be involved in developing and delivering professional development trainings and will provide on-site coaching and professional feedback to Summer Institute participants.
Susan Keefe, M.S. (On-site Coach; Workshop Presenter) is a teacher at the URI Child Development Center (CDC), an NAEYC accredited laboratory preschool on the Kington Campus. She has over 25 years of experience teaching both preschool and kindergarten children. Susan has expertise in early childhood education, child development, and teaching young children as well as adult learners. As a laboratory school teacher, Susan supervises college aged students and adult learners. She has been a lecturer in Human Development and Family Science at URI for over 20 years focusing in Early Childhood Education courses. A certified Early Childhood Education (ECE) Teacher, Susan holds classroom level Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards. She served as a trainer for RIELS Level I through the Rhode Island Department of Education. Through a partnership with Pre-K Initiative and RIDE, Susan served as a consultant for various Pre-K programs to align evidence-based best practice to RIELDS the areas of math, science and literacy. She has extensive experience providing professional development training to early childhood classroom teachers throughout RI and CT, some topics have included science, math, guidance and discipline, yoga and peacemaking, supporting family connections, music and movement. Susan will be involved in developing and delivering professional development trainings as well as serving as providing on-site coaching and professional feedback to Summer Institute participants.
Nilton Porto, MBA/Ph.D., (Workshop Presenter) is assistant professor of personal finance in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Rhode Island. Prior to returning to academia, he spent over a decade in various management positions in the banking industry after obtaining an MBA in finance from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Porto received his Ph.D. in household economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research applies behavioral economics tools to personal finance and consumer behavior issues. He is a board member of the Rhode Island Jump$tart Financial Coalition for Personal Finance Literacy. Dr. Porto has experience as a project manager training teachers to deliver financial education to elementary school children. Dr. Porto will be involved in the creation and support of the online component/website to supplement the institute, as well as on the statistical analysis of the collected data.
Sue K. Adams, Ph.D., (Co-Principal Investigator) is a professor and chair in the department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Rhode Island, with expertise in child and adolescent physical and mental health. Dr. Adams is also a licensed child psychologist in the state of Rhode Island. She is the co-owner and Chief Financial and Operating Officer of the New England Center for Anxiety, a multi-site private practice specializing in the provision of empirically-supported treatments for anxiety disorders across the lifespan. Dr. Adams has over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based behavioral health interventions to young children and their families to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Dr. Adams also received training through the Brown University Clinical Psychology Training Consortium in early childhood mental health, with specific emphasis in early childhood assessment and the provision of the Incredible Years curriculum to Head Start classrooms and community-based parent training groups. Dr. Adams will be involved in developing evidence-based professional development trainings as well as project coordination across all components of the grant.
Hyunjin Kim, Ph.D., (Research Coordinator) is the coordinator and associate professor of early childhood education (Birth -2ndGrade) in the Human Development and Family Science at URI. Dr. Kim has considerable expertise in areas of teacher education and early childhood curriculum and program development. She is particularly interested in teaching efficacy and its impact on their teaching practices and student learning. Dr. Kim has previously worked on state and federally funded cross-sectional and longitudinal studies using multiple measures for multiple sites including a RISE preschool project and NICHD funded projects (e.g., children with and without disabilities, children of incarcerated mothers) using both quantitative and mixed research methods. Currently as a Co-PI, she is involved in a PBS Project, “Preschoolers Exposure to The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About That! (CITH) Multimodal Content and Their Perceptions, Skills, and Knowledge of Science and Engineering.” Dr. Kim will be involved in programing of evidence-based professional development trainings for early childhood learning and development workforce and the development of instruments and data analysis.
Asha Leah Spivak, Ph.D., (Evidence-Based Expert) is an assistant professor of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Rhode Island (URI). She is particularly passionate about helping early childhood educators implement evidence-supported practices to develop high-quality early learning environments that serve diverse populations of young children with and without disabilities. She teaches courses in infant and child development, early childhood education, and family engagement and currently serves on the committee that oversees requirements and coursework for URI’s fully accredited early childhood (PreK-2) teacher certification program. Her research interests focus on identifying practices, programming, and early supports in the family, peer group, school, and community that improve the social, emotional, and behavioral development and health of young children with diverse abilities and from diverse racial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Also, she is leading a meta-analysis to illuminate what 40 years of research indicate as to which education practices show evidence-based promise to foster children’s prosocial behaviors (e.g., helping, volunteerism, protecting peers from bullying). Her research has been funded by grants from public and private institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood. Dr. Spivak received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Psychology from UCLA and her M.A. in Curriculum Development and Instructional Leadership from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the URI faculty, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship awarded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to prepare the next generation of education researchers. As a result of her postdoctoral training, she has developed expertise in quantitative research methodology, longitudinal and experimental research design, and program evaluation as well as advanced statistical analysis appropriate for school-based research. Informed by her prior work as an early childhood educator, mentor of early childhood teachers and intervention specialists, and K-5 curriculum and assessment developer, she brings pragmatic, teacher-friendly perspectives and a depth of professional experience to her teaching, practice, and research.
Tracey Whirty Maron, M.Ed. (Workshop Presenter) has over 30 years of experience in the field of early childhood education and program development. Tracey is currently a Technical Assistance Specialist with the Department of Education Itinerant Early Childhood Special Education Initiative. She is an adjunct lecturer with the University of RI and conducts various professional development across the state. Tracey is also an early childhood consultant with EDC and provides support to local districts in the area of transition to Kindergarten. Tracey has worked for the Rhode Island Department of Education, Providence, Rhode Island as a Consultant on their Rhode Island Quality Improvement Early Childhood Project where she provided Technical Assistance to public schools, community-based early learning and state pre K programs; Tracey supported programs in quality improvement efforts toward RIDE approval; provided mentoring, professional development and support to TA consultants; conducted CLASS reliability training; and collaborated with RIDE personnel on statewide Race to the Top activities. Tracey brings her expertise as an Early Childhood Education Consultant and RIELDS Master Trainer where she collaborated with RIDE to design and develop a PD series that aligned with Rhode Island’s Early Learning Standards (RIELDS) and delivered RIELDS training modules. As an Early Childhood Education Consultant for RIDE Tracey Provided TA to early childhood education programs seeking NAEYC accreditation; promoted increased accountability and reflection of standards in classroom practices; and provided community-wide training on Developmentally Appropriate Practices, Inclusive Teaching Methods, Assessment Strategies for Young Children and Improving Interactions and Transition Planning. Tracey has also worked as a private consultant to a regional school district with over 12 kindergarten classrooms to design a full day K curriculum and implement a PD plan for teachers using an interaction observation tool to improve teacher/child interactions and teaching strategies. Tracey has worked with a number of initiatives in the state of RI focusing on transition planning with communities interested in improving transition services to children moving from a birth to 3 program into a public school service delivery setting and in organizing community collaboratives geared towards improving transitions from public preschools into public school Kindergarten programs. Tracey will be involved in delivering professional development trainings for Early Childhood Institute attendees.