Hi, I'm Sam!
I first fell in love with early childhood development and education during my time as an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, where I worked as as a research assistant in Dr. Anna Shusterman's Cognitive Development Lab, an assistant pre-k teacher in the founding class of Kindergarten Kickstart, and a teaching assistant in Middletown Public Schools and various after school programs. After graduating in 2013 with a BA in Psychology concentrating in Cognitive Science, I spent three years managing Dr. Kimberly Noble's Neuroscience, Early Experience, and Development (NEED) Lab at Columbia University. At the NEED Lab, I managed multiple research projects related to identifying and ameliorating socioeconomic disparities in language and neurocognitive development in infancy through middle childhood, including Getting Ready for School, a bilingual home-classroom curriculum designed for Head Start settings, and the pilot study of Baby's First Years, the country's first randomized control trial on the effects of poverty reduction on family life and child development.
I completed my MA and later my PhD in Early Childhood Education Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University while working with Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan at the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF). At NCCF I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects related to building equitable, high-quality early childhood systems in New York City and around the world. After a teaching practicum in the toddler room at Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, I continued working as a substitute teacher there for the rest of my time in NYC. I have also leveraged my experiences as a researcher, manager, assistant early childhood educator, and instructional coach to provide research, evaluation, and coaching consultation to a variety of nonprofit clients.
As an Assistant Research Professor at Erikson Institute, I direct and collaborate on community-engaged, policy-relevant research projects focused on understanding and transforming early childhood policies and systems to equitably meet the needs of diverse children, families, and educators, with a particular focus on elevating the voices and value of home-based childcare professionals. My work leverages mixed methods, critical theories, and interdisciplinary knowledge to inform systemic change.
My own experiences being raised in a lower-middle class household by a single parent, a family childcare provider, a cooperative preschool, and public schools have shaped me into an fierce advocate for community-centered, joyful, and enriching early childhood experiences. As a white researcher who studies (in)equitable early childhood experiences, practices, and policies, my work is often done in community and solidarity with racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse individuals. While my role in this work is small, I am committed to continually (un)learning about (in)justice and centering caregiver perspectives in order to contribute to systemic equity and justice for children, families, and educators.