Brady Education Foundation Montessori Initiative Network: Current and Former Members

ALLEN, DELIA (Furman University). Delia B. Allen, PH.D. is affiliated with the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University, where she serves as a Research Associate in the Center for Education Policy and Leadership. Currently, Dr. Allen is the principal investigator of the College Advising Corps project. She also assists with the Institute’s Program Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative. D. Allen has served on the student editorial board for the Education Law and Policy Review and has had recent presentations at the Association for Education Finance and Policy annual conference, the Education Law Association annual conference, and the National Education Finance annual conference. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Policy from the University of Georgia. She earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University and master’s degrees from Northwestern University (biomedical engineering) and Converse College (teaching secondary mathematics).

BODDICKER-YOUNG, PORSCHE (Child Trends). Porsche Boddicker-Young, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist in the Early Childhood Development research area at Child Trends. Dr. Boddicker-Young serves as one of Child Trends’ experts on racial equity. Her research interests include understanding and addressing the processes and outcomes of racial equity in early childhood development and education, closing and dismantling the academic and opportunity gap, and understanding the experiences of students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. For her master’s thesis, she examined strategies to reduce the academic achievement gap (i.e., collaborative learning, teacher-student relationship quality, and culturally relevant pedagogy) in Black elementary school students. For her dissertation, she examined how racial identity is related to academic achievement and adaptation to college among Black and Biracial college students. While at Child Trends, Dr. Boddicker-Young has served as a scientist on projects related to infant-toddler development, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, social-emotional learning, and health equity.

Chen, Jie (University of Kansas). Jie Chen, Ph.D., is a project lead psychometrician at KU’s Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, as well as a research associate for the KU Center for Montessori Research. She has ten years of experience in large-scale assessments, research design and methodology, test development, and item analysis.

COSSENTINO, JACKIE (Former member of the Advisory Board). Jackie Cossentino, Ed.D, was the Director of Research for the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. An ethnographer by training, she drew from her direct experience as head of an independent Montessori school and principal of a large, urban public Montessori school to produce an internationally recognized body of scholarship on Montessori education. Jackie was a Lecturer in Loyola Maryland’s Montessori Studies program. She served on the boards of Montessori Northwest and the Montessori Charter Management Organization. BEF joins the Montessori community in mourning the loss of an amazing leader in the field.

CULCLASURE, BROOKE (Furman University). Brooke Culclasure, Ph.D., is affiliated with the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University, where she serves as the Institute’s Research Director. In addition to teaching at the University, she coordinates large-scale, mixed-method research projects on Montessori Education, Project-Based Learning, and New Tech Schools. Dr. Culclasure also oversees the Institute’s Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Montessori Research and has had recent presentations at the American Montessori Society national conference, the International Montessori Congress, the American Education Research Association national conference, and the American Evaluation Association national conference. She earned master’s degrees from the University of Virginia (political science) and the University of South Carolina (education policy) and her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia (education policy and research).

CURENTON-JOLLY, STEPHANIE (Advisory Board). Stephanie M. Curenton, Ph.D. is a tenured associate professor in the School of Education at Boston University. She studies the social, cognitive, and language development of low-income and minority children within various ecological contexts, such as parent-child interactions, early childhood education programs, early childhood workforce programs, and related state and federal policies. She served as past associate editor for Early Childhood Research Quarterly and Early Education and Development. She was awarded a research policy fellowship from the Society for Research on Child Development (SRCD)/American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and worked in Office of Child Care. She has served on education non-profit boards for National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and local Head Start programs.

Daoust, Carolyn (University of Kansas Center for Montessori Research). Carolyn Daoust, Ph.D. is a research associate with the KU Center for Montessori Research with thirty-five years of experience as a Montessori Classroom teacher, teacher educator, and program coordinator. Dr. Daoust holds Montessori teaching credentials from the American Montessori Society (ages 3-6) and the Association Montessori Internationale (ages 6-12) and earned her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in human development and education. Most recently Dr. Daoust was an associate professor at St. Mary’s College of California, where she was employed for twenty years. Her research interests include Montessori implementation and practice, Montessori teacher education, and children’s mathematical thinking. Dr. Daoust served on the board of directors of the American Montessori Society (AMS) and was a member of AMS’s research committee from 2007 to 2013. She received the AMS Outstanding Thesis Award in 1996 and its Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2004.

EARLY, DIANE (Child Trends). Diane Early, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scholari in the Early Childhood Development research area at Child Trends. She has almost 20 years’ experience in policy-relevant research and evaluation in early childhood education, with an emphasis state-funded pre-kindergarten, classroom quality, teacher preparation and practices, and children’s academic and social outcomes. She was Principal Investigator on the Study of State-Wide Early Education Programs (SWEEP) and a lead investigator for the National Center for Early Development and Learning’s Multi-State Study of Pre-Kindergarten — two of the largest studies of state-funded pre-kindergarten ever completed. She recently finished randomized control trials (RCT) testing the effectiveness of the Every Classroom, Every Day model for improving instruction and Rhode Island’s State Pre-K. Additional recent projects include a three-state study investigating the psychometric  the psychometric properties of the newly-revised Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-3), and working with the state of Georgia to validate their Quality Rating and Improvement System.

FLEMING, DAVID (Furman University). David J. Fleming, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Politics and International Affairs Department and a Senior Researcher with the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, and he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. His scholarly work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education and Urban Society, and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, among other outlets. His current research projects include evaluations of Montessori schools in South Carolina and the Early Warning and Response System and associated interventions in Greenville County. He has recently presented research at the American Montessori Society annual conference and the American Educational Research Association annual meeting. At Furman University, Dr. Fleming teaches courses in American politics, public policy, and political analysis.

HEGSETH, DANIELLE (Child Trends). Danielle Hegseth is a research scientist in the early childhood development research area at Child Trends. Danielle is a skilled project director with more than give years of experience providing project and data management for multiple research studies. Her project portfolio focuses on quality improvement initiatives. In recent years, Danielle has led or contributed to evaluation studies in Arizona, New Mexico, Virginia and Rhode Island. To support research operations, she maintains proficient knowledge of research requirements involving human subjects and Institutional Review Board procedures to ensure that projects meet standards. Danielle also manages project staff, contributes to the development of project management tools, leads statewide data collection efforts, conducts analyses, and presents research findings. For her master’s thesis, she analyzed policy and governance structures for how they supported statewide integrated early childhood systems.

 ROWAN, HILTY (Child Trends). Rowan Hilty is a Research Analyst in the Early Childhood Development research area at Child Trends. Ms. Hilty has a strong background in research, writing, and project management. She has coordinated data collection efforts for several large-scale program evaluations, including a randomized controlled trial of Rhode Island’s State Pre-K program. She also recently served as Project Manager for an evaluation of Minnesota’s early childhood workforce retention program. Her research interests are primarily related to issues of social inequality and access in education, and she has conducted independent research examining the role of authority and racial bias in determining disciplinary outcomes in school settings. Ms. Hilty received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Macalester College and is currently completing a Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

KINGSTON, NEAL (University of Kansas, former member of the BEFMIN). Neal Kingston, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Kansas and serves as director of the Achievement and Assessment Institute. His teaches research methods, including meta-analysis, a technique for the quantitative synthesis of multiple primary studies. His research focuses on improving large-scale assessments so they better support student learning, especially by using learning maps as an organizing structure for instruction and formative assessment. Dr. Kingston started his career as a science teacher in Yonkers, New York. Before coming to KU in 2006, he worked as a researcher then officer at several educational testing companies and was Associate Commissioner for Curriculum and Assessment at the Kentucky Department of Education during the early years of the Kentucky Educational Reform Act. He was initially exposed to Montessori education as a parent then board member at the Pennington Montessori School in Pennington, New Jersey.

LEE, JADE CAINES (University of Kansas Team, former member of the BEFMIN). Jade Caines Lee, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Lee’s primary research interests relate to educational assessment and evaluation. She studies validity and fairness issues as it relates to instrument development, evaluates interventions that may improve teaching and learning, and collaborates with practitioners in order to increase stakeholder participation in assessment and evaluation design.

LEYVA, DIANA (Advisory Board). Diana Leyva is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. Leyva’s research focuses on how parents support the development of children’s literacy and math skills in minority communities, including low-income immigrant families in the U.S. and Latin America. She received her PhD from Clark University and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University and project director of Un Buen Comienzo (A Good Start), a teacher professional development program in Chile. She has published in Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and Early Childhood Research Quarterly, among other top scientific journals.

LÓPEZ, MICHAEL (Former member of the Advisory Board). Michael López, Ph.D., is a Vice President in the Education and Child Development department at NORC, where he provides strategic oversight and direction for the growing portfolio of early childhood research at NORC. He currently is Co-Principal Investigator for both the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families and the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study. Prior to joining Abt, he was Executive Director of the National Center for Latino Child & Family Research, where his most relevant efforts included: (1) technical research consultant to First 5 LA on the development of a research and evaluation strategy for a $600 million universal preschool initiative implemented within Los Angeles County; (2) co-author of a book reviewing the psychometric properties of language and literacy measures used with Spanish-speaking, dual language learner preschoolers; and (3) co-author on a study examining the psychometric characteristics of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) used within classrooms serving DLLs. Before that, Dr. López directed the Child Outcomes Research and Evaluation team in the Administration for Children and Families, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he developed and directed large-scale, national, evaluation studies, including the National Head Start Impact Study (HSIS), the largest, nationally-representative, randomized study examining the impact of Head Start on school readiness.

MAXWELL, KELLY (Child Trends Team, former member of the BEFMIN). Kelly Maxwell, Ph.D., is Senior Director of Early Childhood Development Research at Child Trends. Dr. Maxwell has over 20 years of experience in early childhood policy, research, and evaluation. She is known nationally for her policy-relevant research and evaluation focused on helping states improve their early care and education systems. Her research interests include early childhood policy issues, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), school readiness assessments, and evaluations of early childhood initiatives. Dr. Maxwell has had a long history of working with North Carolina’s early childhood leaders. She directed the statewide evaluation of North Carolina’s Smart Start initiative, conducted a statewide study of school readiness, and provided support to the state’s early childhood advisory council, as well as the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. She has also worked with several other states on early childhood issues. For the past several years, she has conducted various research studies for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. She has also consulted with multiple states about QRIS development and evaluation. Within all of her projects, Kelly works collaboratively with policymakers and program administrators to collect, analyze, and apply research to their key decisions. Dr. Maxwell is actively engaged in public and professional services. She has served on multiple advisory boards nationally and within North Carolina, has served as a consulting editor and reviewer for major journals in the field, and has been invited to speak at national, regional, and state meetings. She also is a Research Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 MELZI, GIGLIANA (Advisory Board). Gigliana Melzi is Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology, and Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. Dr. Melzi’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of cultural and linguistic practices and their relation to children’s early development and learning, in particular that of dual-language learners from immigrant Latino communities. Using mixed-methodology and emic approaches, she investigates how Latino immigrant parents nurture their children, what role language plays in that process, and how the educational system can leverage these practices to support children’s school-based learning. Her work adopts a collaborative research stance, working in partnership with Latino communities and educational centers serving Latino families. More recently she has developed and is assessing the efficacy of a culturally situated intervention that trains early childhood teachers to capitalize on Latino children’s cultural traditions to support foundational language skills for reading success. In addition, as part of a cross-university effort to enhance the Development and Research in Early Math Education (DREME network), Dr. Melzi is investigating the everyday math-related activities and math talk in Spanish-speaking and Spanish-English bilingual immigrant homes of preschool aged children. Dr. Melzi’s research has been funded by National Institute of Child Health & Development (NICHD), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; The Spencer Foundation, Brooke Astor Foundation, Brady Education Foundation, and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

MURRAY, ANGELA (University of Kansas). Angela Murray, Ph.D., is Center Director and Advisory Board Chair of the Center for Montessori Research at The University of Kansas, an Assistant Research Professor at The University of Kansas, and a senior researcher and coordinator for the American Montessori Society (AMS). Dr. Murray earned her doctorate from KU in psychology and research in education, with a minor in cultural anthropology; she was awarded honors for her dissertation, “Public Perceptions of Montessori Education.” She is the founding editor of the Journal of Montessori Research and frequently presents on Montessori and other educational issues at national and international conferences.

Sprogis, Alexis (Furman University). Alexis Sprogis joined the Riley Institute at Furman University in 2008. She is currently a Research Specialist with the Center for Education Policy and Leadership (CEPL), where she is responsible for assisting with data collection, instrument and report creation, research logistics, and database compilation associated with several research projects, including the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the TransformSC study, and the New Tech evaluation. She received a B.A. from Winthrop University in 2006 and is in the process of earning her M.A. at the University of Nebraska (Kearney).

THOMPSON, JOY (Child Trends). Joy Thompson, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist in the Education research area at Child Trends. She has a background in applied developmental psychology. To date, she has served on projects related to preschool program evaluation, school start-time change, and post-care services for families exiting the child welfare system. Ms. Thompson supervises and conducts qualitative and quantitative data collection (including oversight of IRB packages), performs data analyses, and supports all elements of project planning and management. Her graduate work involves the various interdependent contexts that affect prek-12 educational outcomes, including school and home-based interventions, parents’ beliefs and practices, and teacher-child interactions. Dr. Thompson recently completed her her dissertation examining the demographic, motivational, and contextual factors that relate to high school math course-taking among high achieving students, an important step in understanding pathways to STEM and maximizing human capital in related fields. She is particularly interested in informing educational policy with sound research as a means of strengthening outcomes for all students through cultivation of their skills, motivation, and interests.

TURNER, HERBERT (Advisory Board). Herb Turner, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Quantitative Methods Division. Dr. Turner is Founder, President and Principal scientist of ANALYTICA, Inc., a woman-owned and minority-led small business that specializes in using scientifically-valid research methods to address policy-relevant education problems. Dr. Turner is a member of the Abt i3 Technical Assistance Leadership team responsible for assisting i3 grantees with producing experimental and quasi-experimental impact evaluations that meet i3 and WWC evidence standards. He also serves as a Senior Policy Research Advisor to several universities and research firms, including the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska, Center for Responsive Schools, and Westat. Dr. Turner currently conducts large-scale experimental and quasi-experimental research on what educational interventions work in K-12 education.

WEST, HALL (Furman University). Hall West, Ph.D., is a Research Specialist in the Center for Education Policy and Leadership. Dr. West currently works on the Brady Education Foundation’s Montessori Initiative and works to broaden the Riley Institute at Furman University’s research and evaluation impact throughout the state. Before working at the Riley Institute, Dr. West held various educational research and evaluation roles within non-profit organizations as well as within the College of Charleston as a Research Coordinator and for the University of South Carolina as a Graduate Research Assistant. She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from the University of South Carolina and a M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education from the College of Charleston.