About the Mind in the Making Staff
Three incredible individuals joined Families and Work Institute team on June 1, 2011 and then to work with us on Mind in the Making: Erin Ramsey as Senior Program Director, Jennie Portnof as Project Coordinator and Julie Riess as Consultant on Education and Child Development.
Even as a child, I loved teaching children. It started out simple. I would find myself helping a 5th grade classmate with a math problem, or gravitating to read to the younger children in the school library. By high school, I spent every lunch period next door at the elementary school; by college, I was completely at home in the campus laboratory school. (I would return a decade later to become the director of that same school.) Graduate school created a platform to merge the depth of critical thinking with the creativity of problem-solving. Each experience helped me to better articulate and understand what I felt watching a child’s face come alive with the excitement of learning.
During my past seventeen years as director of Vassar’s early childhood laboratory schools and as a professor of education and developmental psychology, I have enjoyed a career which blended my interests into one position: I have developed curricula and implemented teacher training, parent support and research programs that reflected contemporary child development theory and research. In concert with teaching, writing has been a forum for me to consider real-life applications of the developmental psychology literature to the daily tasks of parenting. Over the past eleven years, I have been writing a bi-weekly column, The Early Years, distributed nation-wide through Gannett Publications.
Now, a new adventure awaits me as I join the Mind in the Making team with Ellen, Marijata, and Jennie. Regardless of the contexts, the challenge and exhilaration of helping parents and teachers, community organizations and schools learn about the wonders of child development are the same. It is what keeps the fire in my eyes.
Julie A. Riess, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist, early childhood educator, author and mother. For the past seventeen years, she has been the director of Vassar College’s early childhood laboratory schools. As a faculty member she has taught courses on the applications of developmental psychology research in understanding children in the context of their lives at home and school. Riess is the author of more than 200 articles on parenting, which appear in her bi-weekly column, The Early Years through Gannett Publications’ nation-wide distribution. As an educator and developmental psychologist, Riess has conducted regional and national training workshops for early childhood educators, parents, administrators, researchers and health care professionals on matching teaching, parenting and health care practices to contemporary research in child development.
You can see why with Erin, Jennie and Julie we have an ideal team for this next phase of our work on Mind in the Making. They combine strong backgrounds in child development, in research, and in working with all of the players in communities to help children and families thrive. They are visionary, creative and practical and will work on our direct work with the growing number of communities with which we are working as well as in creating new materials and training. We feel incredibly lucky to set off on the next phase of our Mind in the Making journey with their leadership.