The College Years: In my first few weeks as a first year student at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, I was looking through campus information for a work study job that sounded interesting and played to my strengths. That lead me to the on-campus children's center, where I ended up working as a classroom assistant all the way until graduation. I adored my time there, learning from different teachers and watching toddlers and preschoolers explore the classroom and the world outside. I decided to study education, get my teaching license, and apply to post-college jobs working with young children.
Teaching Preschool: The next stop on my career journey was 3000 miles away in Sacramento, California. I started a job as a founding teacher in a brand new early childhood center. I cared so deeply about my students and their families, but I struggled with providing social-emotional instruction. I realized I hadn't really learned how to intentionally teach friendship skills, emotional regulation, and problem solving. I searched desperately for resources to help me, printing Pyramid Model social stories, covering them with contact paper, and reading them at circle time.
Teaching Upper Elementary: For a couple years, I taught upper elementary at an independent school in the Bay Area. I realized that, despite my rough start in preschool, I did want to go back to early childhood education; I just needed more learning and support to do that. Together, my husband and I searched for universities that could provide his and hers masters degrees (M.B.A and M.Ed in early childhood special education). A few months after getting married, we headed off to Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Graduate School: At Vandy, I was luckily assigned to be a part of the Hemmeter Lab, focusing on the Pyramid Model. I wanted to learn more about social-emotional development and how to support teachers like myself with it, and thankfully, I was on the perfect team for those goals. I worked on projects, such as using the Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool (TPOT) in classrooms to measure Pyramid Model implementation, supporting doctoral students with their research work on challenging behavior and embedded instruction, and authoring over 100 social-emotional lessons for the Connect4Learning curriculum.
Pyramid Model Coaching: After graduation, we decided to settle in Raleigh to have several family members nearby as we welcomed our son into the world. I spent the first year of his life at home with him, working on contract-work around social-emotional development and teaching coaching. When he was almost a year old, the school district where we lived received a grant to implement the Pyramid Model in public preschool classrooms. They were looking to hire a project coordinator and two coaches to build the program and help the district intentionally focus on SEL in the earliest years. I applied, and nine years later, I'm proud to say I coordinate a robust coaching program, including training teachers and other school staff, coaching in classrooms, mentoring new coaches, collecting implementation data, reporting out on our work, and studying sustainability practices.
Outside of Work: When I am not at work or writing, I'm enjoying family time in and around downtown Raleigh. We spend our weekends exploring local parks and nature preserves, walking to our local museums, and taking our weekly trip to our favorite public library. My other hobbies include taking care of our new Little Free Library, decluttering through our local Buy Nothing board, facilitating a positive parenting book club, and eating delicious ice cream.