Good Leaders Make Good Schools

A column in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times (David Brooks, March 12th) discusses how strong leadership improves city schools. The article highlights schools in Washington, New Orleans, and Chicago that have increased test scores, increased graduation rates, and an increased percentage of students going to two – or four-year colleges directly after graduation. These improvements are due to talented leaders who build a culture within these schools and collaborate with their staff. These leaders embody trustworthiness, honesty, optimism and determination. In addition, Chicago has one of the highest principal retention rates of any large urban system. Principals are given support, training, and independence.

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute believes in access to excellence for all of New York’s young children, starting at birth. This article points out that the excellence of schools and programs is reliant on the quality and caliber of the leader. The Institute, in partnership with the NYC Department of Education, launched the Leadership Initiative to support site-based leadership as a key strategy towards ensuring that every child has access to excellence. Through this initiative, current early childhood leaders, as well as those who aspire to leadership roles in the future, receive assistance and support to identify and meet individualized leadership development goals. They also have access to coaching and have the opportunity to engage in a range of professional learning activities including events, seminars and conferences that serve as opportunities for growth and development. Each of these efforts help to ensure that the children in these programs receive the high quality learning experiences they need to thrive and be successful.

To learn more about the Leadership Initiative, click  here.

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton

Two renowned scientists died yesterday.  One was Dr. T. Berry Brazelton.  He was a pediatrician.  Actually, he was this nation’s pediatrician.  I had the distinct honor of spending some time with Dr. Brazelton and I have always felt that he single-handedly changed the way this country understands infant children.   He also was the person who helped us understand just how essential the parent is to the healthy development of the child.  He made us understand the critical nature of healthy intimacy.

He was also the nation’s teacher – traveling the country to speak and train people to be more effective advocates and practitioners and writing countless books to help millions of teachers and families thrive in their roles with infants and young children, all while maintaining his professorship and his pediatric practice.

T. Berry Brazelton was one of the most generous people I have ever met – sharing his genius, passion, energy, and good humor in every encounter.  He was insightful and when you were in his presence you were quite sure that no one else was in the room.  I am betting that every one of his tiny patients felt the same way.  Whether you worked with him,  were treated by him, were taught by him, read his books, or whether you have encountered people that were changed by him, we are all better for having T. Berry Brazelton on this earth for nearly 100 years. 

In fond memory,

Sherry M. Cleary

Executive Director

The Art of Play and Wonderment in Early Childhood Conference at Brooklyn College


Colleen Goddard, PhD is the Educational Director at Early Childhood Center at Brooklyn College. She also works as a Child Development Specialist/Consultant at early childhood schools and centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn. She has over 23 years of experience in early childhood education. We asked Colleen to share information about the upcoming Art of Play and Wonderment in Early Childhood Conference at Brooklyn College. 

What is the goal for the Art of Play and Wonderment in Early Childhood Conference?

The goal of this conference is to provide a space for early childhood teachers, directors/leaders, coaches and faculty as well as artists and art educators within Brooklyn College, CUNY and throughout New York City to inspire, create, appreciate and think deeply about what we bring and wish to bring to our early childhood classrooms and profession.

This conference builds on the exhibition that enchanted early childhood professionals at The Wonder of Learning Exhibit, in 2015.  I feel it will be fantastic to look at play and wonderment and celebrate what that means to each of us through our own experiential lenses. It may look different from teacher to teacher, but collectively it is important to celebrate the art of interest, inquiry, and wonderment specific to young children’s play and our own engagement in imagination, reflection, documentation and creativity.

To reach our goal we used the work we have been doing for almost a year at the Brooklyn College Early Childhood/SOE Lab School in partnership with the faculty in the Early Childhood and Art Education Department (ECAE) as our springboard.  Starting with a careful rethinking and remaking of the physical space in the Early Childhood Center (ECC), we transformed the experiences for children and teachers in the classroom, which also influenced parents and their relationships with their children and the teachers, which we also want to share. We are inspired by the intentional curiosity and wonderment that the children present to us on a moment to moment basis here at The Early Childhood Center/Lab School of Brooklyn College. Their boundless energy, expert inquisitiveness and tender engagements move us as authentic educators, as we are called to attend, reflect, and respond to their every developmental need and milestones.

Read more…

Research on the Positive Effects of Early Childhood Education

A study by Georgetown University and a study by the National Institutes of Health highlight the positive effects of high quality early childhood education. According to the research from Georgetown University, eighth graders who attended Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program as 4 year olds had higher math scores, were more likely to enroll in honor classes, and were less likely to repeat a grade than those who did not attend. In kindergarten, students who attended the program were nine months ahead in reading, seven months ahead in writing, and five months ahead in math, these effects were especially strong among English-language learners. The results of this study shows that the positive effects of a high quality pre-K program are evident as late as middle school.

In addition, high quality early childhood education has also been linked to college success. According to the research from the National Institutes of Health, children who participated in an intensive childhood education program in Chicago from preschool to third grade were more likely to get a college degree than their peers who did not. Children who attended the Child-Parent Centers program, which provides intensive instruction in reading and math, combined with frequent field trips from pre-kindergarten through third grade, were more likely as adults to achieve an associate’s degree of higher.

Children are born learning and have the innate capacity to succeed. Both studies show that how well children learn in the early years sets the stage for the rest of their lives and that the quality of children’s early childhood experiences affects how well they learn. We, as a society, must envision and implement an early learning agenda that begins at birth. The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute works to ensure access to excellence for ALL young children by working with early childhood organizations locally, across the state, and around the country to create and enhance comprehensive early childhood systems serving children from birth through age 8.

To learn more about the Institute’s work, click here.

Educational Spotlight on Pre-K Teacher

An article from the Observer features a spotlight on Ellen Foley, a Pre-K teacher at Fredonia Central School District. Ellen introduces her students to their first public school experience through play, exploration, and discovery. The classroom is interactive and full of independent play activities, class pets, puzzles, books, and objects to explore. Ellen greets her students with a smile and encourages them to be independent and responsible for their own belongings. She nurtures them to develop self-care skills. The Observer recognizes Ellen Foley as an Outstanding Educator for the Fredonia School District.

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute believes in access to excellence for all of New York’s young children. A talented and highly qualified early childhood workforce made up of adults who are engaged, informed, and healthy, like Ellen Foley, better prepares children for school and life. New York Works for Children, staffed by the Institute, and the Early Childhood Advisory Council designed publications to support those who are engaged in the work of early childhood. The Core Body of Knowledge: New York State’s Core Competencies for Early Childhood Educators (CBK)  illustrates what early childhood educators need to know and be able to do. These competencies offer a road map for building meaningful relationships with children and families and creating a nurturing, stimulating environment. Ellen demonstrates these competencies through her interactive classroom and encouragement of children’s independence.

The New York State Early Learning Guidelines (ELG) is a comprehensive guide to the developmental milestones children attain between birth and age 5. The ELG supports early childhood professionals in making informed decisions about how best to support and promote children’s development and learning. Some sample strategies include providing opportunities for children to be responsible for their personal belongings such as hanging up their own jacket or providing opportunities for children to take care of living things including non-toxic plants and pets.  The Guidelines help teachers decide what cognitive skills children are ready to tackle.  Ellen promotes the development and learning of the children in her classroom by designing responsive classroom environments, by encouraging them, to be responsible for their own belongings and introducing them to class pets. Both of these publications help to ensure that the adults in children’s lives provide the nurturing support that is critical to a lifetime of health, happiness, participation and productivity.

If you are interested in in reading or purchasing these publications, click here

We congratulate Ellen for being recognized as an Outstanding Educator.

The Aspire Registry Winter Newsletter

The Aspire Registry team has released their winter newsletter. Since 2015, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. The newsletter is distributed to over 25,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.

In the winter newsletter, the Aspire Registry shares possible New Year’s resolutions for its members. This includes trying something new in the classroom such as a different system for taking observations, learning something new through professional development trainings, and giving the classroom a new look. The Aspire Registry Team also shares information on coaching in early childhood and identifies the difference between coaching and training. In addition, the newsletter introduces Baby Malcom! He is the son of Louisa Higgins, Director at New York Works for Children. Malcom shares his ideas about what kids like and what makes them feel good.

To read the newsletter, click here.

Sesame Street in Communities: Caring and Responsive Engagement Program (C.A.R.E.)

The Institute is pleased to share the result of a recent project with the Sesame Workshop. Our Informal Family Child Care Project worked with Sesame Workshop to help them create a piece about informal (friend, family, and neighbor) caregivers for their Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC) initiative. SSIC provides short informative videos designed to support service providers who currently or endeavor to engage families and caregivers around a range of early learning topics and issues.

For this piece, SSIC focused on the Institute’s new Caring and Responsive Engagement Program (C.A.R.E.), which recruits and supports informal child care providers caring for children under 5 years old through group learning and individualized home-based coaching. The Program Coordinator of C.A.R.E., Zoraima Rosario-Rolón, shares strategies that informal providers can use to care for children more completely. To watch the video, click here.

The C.A.R.E. Program is generously supported by a grant from the New York Community Trust. We would also like to thank all of the staff, providers, and families who participated in the project and the video for sharing their time.

The Aspire Registry Fall Newsletter

The Aspire Registry team has released their fall newsletter. Since 2015, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. The newsletter is distributed to over 25,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.

In the latest newsletter, Aspire Registry members are encouraged to update their Aspire profile as they plan and prepare for the year ahead. Members can now upload their documents directly into their Aspire profile and those who regularly update their profile are no longer required to renew their membership annually! The Aspire Registry Team also shares that the New York Works for Children website is getting a new look that will make its debut before the end of this year. The main goal for the site update is for the website to be easy to use, the same resources and information will still be available. In addition, the newsletter features a spotlight on Robyn France, an Assistant teacher working in Queens, New York. She shares why she decided to pursue a degree in early childhood and her favorite part of teaching young children.

To read the newsletter, click here.

New York’s Tale of Two Child Care Cities

A new brief from the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School discusses how growing interest in early education has led to more infant classrooms in child care centers; however, the majority of these centers serve wealthy families. Child care centers for low income families have been losing capacity to take in infants and young toddlers largely due to cost; they are the most expensive age groups to serve in centers. This has resulted in limited child care options for low income families causing the majority of them to choose home-based family child care. According to the brief, nationwide studies have found that, on average, family child care is lower quality than center-based care.

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute believes in access to excellence for all of New York’s young children, starting at birth, and this report points out some of the challenges that low income families with infants face in trying to get access to high quality care for their children. The Institute developed the Informal Family Child Care Project (IFCC) to assess and address the needs of informal child care providers who receive subsidies from the New York Administration for Children’s Services to provide care. The mission of IFCC is to elevate the quality of care for children in home-based family child care settings in New York City. IFCC offers a wide range of programs and services, including training, technical assistance, home visits, and access to materials and resources that support best practices for family and children. Each of these efforts help to ensure that the children in these child care settings have access to the foundational learning experiences they need to thrive and be successful.

The Aspire Registry: Member of the National Workforce Registry Alliance

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute staffs New York Works for Children and its flagship service: The Aspire Registry. The Aspire Registry, led by Louisa Higgins and Diana Diaz, is New York State’s workforce database and statewide training calendar for early childhood and school-age professionals. Teachers, providers, directors, trainers, and anyone who works with children can use the Aspire Registry to keep track of important information about their careers, including education and employment history, as well as professional development opportunities.

This year the Aspire Registry achieved Partnership Eligibility Review (PER) status from the National Workforce Registry Alliance. PER is a peer-review process that assesses a registry’s level of readiness for participation in data-related projects at the national level. The National Workforce Registry Alliance is an association comprised of members from throughout the country who oversee and/or manage data systems that track various elements related to those who care for, educate, and support children. The data collected from the Aspire Registry and other members of the National Workforce Registry Alliance will serve as benchmarks to measure progress in both the education and compensation of the workforce or innovative initiatives such as QRIS, scholarship, and wage incentive programs. Comparing these data with other national datasets will be useful in formulating sound policy recommendations.

In August, Diana Diaz, The Aspire Registry Administrator, was elected to the Board of the National Workforce Registry Alliance as the Region II Representative. In this role, she will coordinate work with other registries established in New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and serve as their liaison to report to the National Board members in activities, successes and issues occurring within the region. Diana will also develop annual work plans, with the input of the other Alliance members from this region, to address the present needs and propose work and strategies to support the early childhood workforce at the national level. In addition, she will continue to serve as a member of the Data and Standards Committee to oversee the collection of data and development of reports to inform policy and support quality initiatives.

The Aspire Registry and the Institute’s other initiatives continue to translate proven approaches and research into policy and practice to create a comprehensive system for teachers, directors, administrators, policy leaders, funders, and other individuals who want to create an exemplary and well-compensated early childhood workforce. Additional information is available at