On May 13, UMass Boston hosted the Leadership Forum on Early Education Research, Policy, and Practice, bringing together early educators and those in higher education, business, and government that are working to improve and transform early care and education programs and systems.
The forum showcases the ideas, innovations, and impact of early childhood educators from the early educator entrepreneurial leadership programs housed at UMass Boston’s Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation. The institute houses the Early Care and Education Small Business Innovation Center, a leadership network, and a research and policy center.
Executive Director Anne Douglass gave the keynote presentation, and introduced the institute’s new first-in-the-nation Innovation Lab and Accelerator for Early Educators. The accelerator will be a testing ground for new ideas and allow development of radical, disruptive, and system-changing bold thinking to propose novel, innovative, creative and effective solutions for the early education field. It will provide mentoring, networking, and access to capital necessary to start and grow businesses through a cohort-based program. UMass Boston associate professor of management Banu Özkazanç-Pan led the design of the accelerator and now directs the innovation lab and accelerator.The Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation expects the new accelerator to provide the educator-leaders with even more pathways to professional success.
The Early Education Research, Policy, and Practice certificate program is a rigorous academic program consisting of four advanced courses in child development and early learning, policy, research methods, and leadership. The Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation expects the new accelerator to provide those educator-leaders with even more pathways to professional success.
At the forum, a panel of alumni discussed the challenges facing entrepreneurs in the field of early childhood education, and highlighted the need for more support for early education entrepreneurs. Ara Reyes shared her story of becoming an early educator after facing obstacles to find care for her young child. Charlene Flynn spoke about using technology to empower parents and improve language outcomes for children through her start-up, teenytunes.org.
Government officials also discussed the need for expanded opportunities for early educators. City Councilor--at-Large Ayanna Pressley spoke about diversity, leadership, and building equitable communities that support all young children and their families. She formed a committee in the City Council that is focused on these issues.
Winifred Hagan, associate commissioner for academic affairs and student success at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, praised UMass Boston’s commitment to improving the quality of education for all young learners.
“The Leadership Institute is approaching fulfillment of its mission in a powerful way that is consistent with UMass Boston’s social justice mission – to raise awareness of existing inequalities and mobilize students to action,” Hagan said. “The Leadership Institute is growing a generation of movers and shakers and architects of the changes and long-overdue improvements to the field of early childhood education.”