Nordic Symposium




Child playing in puddle

Ensuring the "Good Childhood" in a World of Cultural and Technological Change: Expanding the Nordic-American Dialogue on Early Education

April 5-6, 2019
Scandinavia House, New York City

The Child Development Institute at Sarah Lawrence College held a symposium in collaboration with the American-Scandinavian Foundation; the third in a series of Nordic-American symposia bringing together Scandinavian and American educators to explore issues of common interest and concern. The 2019 Nordic Symposium built on and extended the conversations from the first two Symposia and explored the challenges and opportunities posed in both the U.S. and the Nordic countries by demographic, cultural, and technological change. Presenters from both the U.S. and the Nordic countries and approximately 150 practitioners in the field of early childhood education attended.

Please click the menu button in the top right corner of this video to access the menu of recorded sessions.

Schedule and Speakers

Friday, April 5, Featured Panel Discussions

Education for Sustainable Development and Play

Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson, PhD, Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Gothenburg; UNESCO Chair in ECE & Sustainable Development
Nilda Cosco, PhD, Director of Programs, The Natural Learning Initiative; Research Associate Professor, College of Design, NC State University

Moderated by Judith Wagner, PhD,  Emerita Professor of Child Development and Education; Director of Broadoaks Children’s School; Professor of Education and Child Development, Whittier College, CA

Environments, Design and Technology

Rochelle Cassells, PhD, Psychology Faculty, Sarah Lawrence College
Gary Evans, PhD, Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Ecology, Cornell University

Free Play and Teacher Guided Play – A Nordic Approach

Stig Brostrom, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Aarhus University

A discussion of possibilities and limitations in free play and teacher guided play, as well as teachers’ roles in various types of play.

Community Adventure Play for All Children

Lorayne Carbon, MS Ed, Director, Early Childhood Center, Sarah Lawrence College
Kim Ferguson, PhD, Interim Dean for Graduate Studies, Roy E. Larsen Chair in Psychology, Sarah Lawrence College
Tricia Hanley, MS Ed, MA, Director, Child Development Institute, Sarah Lawrence College
Debi Riessen, MS Ed, Lead Teacher, Early Childhood Center, Sarah Lawrence College 
Barbara Schecter, PhD, Director, Graduate Program in Child Development/Psychology, Sarah Lawrence College

A discussion of community play, adventure play, and a film by Eric Heimbold - The Power of Play, based upon CAPEs in Antigua.

Friday, April 5, Concurrent Small Sessions

1. Continuing the Conversation on Education for Sustainable Development & Play

Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson, PhD, Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Gothenburg; UNESCO Chair in ECE & Sustainable Development
Nilda Cosco, PhD, Director of Programs, The Natural Learning Initiative; Research Associate Professor, College of Design, NC State University
Judith Wagner, PhD, Emerita Professor of Child Development and Education; Director of Broadoaks Children’s School; Professor of Education and Child Development, Whittier College, CA

Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions and delve deeper in discussion with the presenters.

2. Sustainable Classrooms

Elisa Caref, MA, Director of Education, Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Sarah Lawrence College

This session will delve into simple, fun, and hands-on methods to incorporate sustainability into your classroom and workspace.

3. The Nordic Creative Adventure: Modeling Design Learning

Hertta Nilsson, MA, Heimbold Children's Center Supervisor, Scandinavia House

The focus of the talk is to introduce the Heimbold Playing and Learning Center’s weekly programs; and showcase design and arts-centered learning through the Nordic model of holistic approach to early education.

4. Swedish Gender Neutral School Model: What Can We Learn From It?

Milana Kagan, MS Ed, NYC Elementary Public School Teacher, The Ella Baker School

A discussion of Swedish preschools that are making efforts to counteract traditional gender roles and gender patterns in early childhood.

5. Considering Early Literacy: Historical Perspectives; Individual Predispositions; Timing and Approaches

Sara Wilford, M Ed, Founding Director, Art of Teaching Graduate Program, Sarah Lawrence College

Historical, cultural, and developmental perspectives set a framework for discussion as we share our experiences of literacy learning and consider approaches to pedagogical practice. 



Saturday, April 6, Featured Panel Discussions

Children on the Move: Refugee and Migrant Families in a Global Context

Maria Pia Belloni, PhD, UN Representative, World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP)
Deanna Barenboim, PhD, Anthropology and Psychology Faculty, Sarah Lawrence College
Janet Reilly, PhD, Politics Faculty, Sarah Lawrence College
Molly Alexander, MS Ed, Founding Co-Teacher & Assistant Director at Global Roots Play School 

Moderated by Mara Gross, Ed D, Director, Office of Community Partnerships & Service Learning, Sarah Lawrence College

Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Education

Maja Sbahi Biehl, MA, Faculty and Consultant at DIS - Study Abroad
Denisha Jones, PhD, Esq. Director of Teacher Education and Assistant Professor, School of Education, Trinity Washington University

Moderated by Natalie Gross, M Ed, Director of Civic Engagement & Social Justice, The New School

Saturday, April 6, Concurrent Small Sessions (Morning)

6. Continuing the Conversation on Environments, Design, and Technology

Kurt Bendix Olsen, PhD, Associate Professor, Center for Applied Welfare Research, UCL
Gary Evans, PhD, Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Ecology, Cornell University

Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions and delve deeper in discussion with the presenters.

7. Loose Parts in the Classroom

Robbin Hawkins, Lead Teacher, Early Childhood Center, Sarah Lawrence College

Come discuss how to use loose parts in an early childhood classroom. What does loose parts play in the classroom look like? Why is it important? How can you incorporate loose parts into your classroom?

8. Childhood Re-Imagined—A Scandinavian Approach to Childhood and Education in America

Scandinavian School of Jersey City 

Ally Brosnan, Kindergarten Teacher

Paula Espinoza, 3-4's Teacher

Maria Germerud-Sharp, M Ed, Founder and Director 

Manija Mayel, Chef

Hannah Riarback-Nunez, Associate Director

Jennifer Salazar, Kindergarten Teacher

Staff and administration from The Scandinavian School of Jersey City, NJ will discuss the focus of their Forest Program, and the importance of spending time outdoors, and of play. Other programming includes the introduction of Mindfulness and Yoga, and a plant-based Food Program and Eco Sustainability Mission

9. Following Our Children: Naming the World

Natalie A. Gross, M Ed, Director of Civic Engagement & Social Justice, The New School

In teaching our students and our own children how much do we talk about or name issues of race, color, and ethnicity? What does it look like to start the conversation around race as opposed to follow along with what students want to talk about? In our time together we will unpack some simple ways to reshape our conversations around race, ethnicity, and racism.

Saturday, April 6, Concurrent Small Sessions (Afternoon)

10. Paving a Road to Hope: Time for Action to Protect Migrant and Refugee Children’s Rights, Particularly the Right to Early Childhood Development

Maria Pia Belloni, PhD, UN Representative, World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP)

The urgent need to protect migrant and children's rights, mainly the right to education and ECD, discussing how the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration could represent an important opportunity for this purpose.

11. Leading Culturally Responsive Schools: Supporting Teachers in the Daily Experience

Maiya Jackson, MS Upper School Director, Manhattan Country School

The focus of the workshop will be racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity, but there is room to consider other types of diversity as well. Please come with stories, questions, and resources that you have found helpful in your own schools.

12. Sarah Lawrence College’s Summer Connections with Refugee and Immigrant Families Program

Mara Gross, Ed D Director, Office of Community Partnerships & Service Learning, Sarah Lawrence College
Janet Reilly, PhD Politics Faculty, Sarah Lawrence College

Come hear from SLC staff, local community members, and program participants about how we strive through our summer program, to create a community together and learn and grow from one another.

13. Children As Foreigners: How the Idea of Childhood is Changing

Jon Kaurel, MA Senior Advisor, Union of Education, Norway

By drawing on examples from the past 40 years of policy discussions regarding how the barnehage (kindergarten for children aged 1-5) should be organized to deal with immigrant children and their families, Jon Kaurel will show how the general idea of childhood in Norway is changing.

Learn More About the Speakers

Molly Alexander

Molly lives and works in Ithaca, NY, where she co-founded an early childhood program for refugees, immigrants, and international families. Global Roots Play School, a project of Ithaca Welcomes Refugees, is a play based program for children ages 18 months to 5 years old, organized in partnership with adult ESL classes. Global Roots Play School received the Women Building Community Innovation award from the Ithaca City Federation of Women's Organizations. Prior to her work in Ithaca, Molly taught in NYC at the Barnard Toddler Center and Downtown Little School, and in southern France. Molly has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education and a B.A. in American Studies from Wesleyan University.

Deanna Barenboim

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. MA, PhD, University of Chicago. Special interests in political/legal anthropology and medical/psychiatric anthropology; transnational migration, diaspora, and mobilities; race, ethnicity, and indigeneity; urbanism, space, and place; expressive culture; new media; Maya peoples, languages, and cultures; Mexico and Latin America; North America. Recipient of grants and fellowships from US Department of Education, Fulbright, and National Science Foundation. 

Maria Pia Belloni

Maria Pia holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science, cum laude, University of Pavia (Italy) and Diploma of Advanced European Studies, College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium. Professor (retired) of European Union Law, Faculty of Political Science, University of Pavia (Italy). Visiting Scholar, Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, New York University (2007-2017). Chair, UN NGO Committee on Migration (2016-present). UN Representative, OMEP (2010- present). Member of the Steering Committee “Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts”, Geneva (2017-present). Member of the Advisory Group of the Early Childhood Development Peace Consortium (ECPC) (2016-present). She has published books and articles on different aspects of the European Union integration, mainly about migration policy. Her current interests are migrant and refugee children’s right to access the basic services; migrant and refugee children’s right to Early Childhood Development; alternatives to administrative detention for migrant and refugee children.


Maja Sbahi Biehl

Maja Sbahi Biehl is a multilingual, global citizen.  She earned her Cand. Comm (Master of Arts) in Communication and Educational Studies from Roskilde University (2004) after completing her bachelor studies in Speech and Communication from San Francisco State University.  Prior to her current work as a faculty member and Practicum Consultant at DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia, she gathered experience working with children and youth in schools and childcare centers.  Her course topics include in Child Development, Teaching and Learning, Pedagogy, Diversity, Mutliculturalism, Migration and Sociology.  To date, her consultancy work consists of networking and outreach, ensuring students with practicum and professional development experience while abroad. Drawing both on her education and professional experience, she writes articles about Higher Education, pedagogy, children and the natural work and she has also conducted research about Muslim youth and identity.  In one of her latest projects, she spearheaded a corporate social responsibility initiative for staff, faculty and students to help refugee children and youth in Denmark and Turkey.

Ally Brosnan

Ally holds a B.S. in Education and is co-leading the Forest Kindergarten classroom Scandinavian School of Jersey City.  After trading the bucolic backdrop of her childhood for the city of Philadelphia, Ally became interested in greening city spaces, and utilizing vacant lots as edible gardens and community meeting places. She has facilitated gardening programs with adults experiencing homelessness and with afterschool programs within ‘food desert’ neighborhoods. Before joining the Scandinavian School of Jersey City, Ally worked as a 1st grade teacher in the School district of Philadelphia. In 2017, Ally Brosnan worked with SSJC in establishing its Forest Kindergarten program. This program leads children ages 4-6 in year-round explorations of loose part play, local ecosystems, and establishing a sense of self within a community-based classroom.

Stig Broström

Stig holds a master’s degree in education and a Ph.D. in early childhood education. He is professor emeritus in early childhood education at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University. His main areas of research are based in cultural historical theory as it relates to preschool, transition to school, the first years in primary school, curriculum theory, children's play, narrative and aesthetic learning, social competence, and friendship.

Lorayne Carbon

BA, State University of New York-Buffalo. MSEd, Bank Street College of Education. Special areas of interest include social justice issues in the early childhood classroom and creating aesthetic learning environments for young children. Former early childhood teacher and director at Oak Lane Child Care Center, Chappaqua, New York, and education coordinator of the Virginia Marx Children’s Center of Westchester Community College. An adjunct professor at Westchester Community College, Carbon is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at seminars and conferences on early childhood education. She has been director of the Early Childhood Center since August 2003 and is a faculty advisor to the College's Child Development Institute.

Elisa Caref

BA in History, DePaul University, MA in Environmental Conservation Education, New York University. Elisa is a Brooklyn native who joined CURB in September 2017 as Director of Education. An avid non-formal educator for over a decade, she was previously the educator and then Director of Education at The River Project, teaching New York City students and teachers about Hudson River ecology, biology, and chemistry. Additionally, she was an adjunct Ecology professor at Yeshiva University, as well as a gardening instructor at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. She also really loves fish.

Rochelle Cassells

Rochelle C. Cassells, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist and a faculty member in the department of Psychology at Sarah Lawrence College.  Her research focuses on the influence of the physical and psychosocial environment of poverty on child development.  She also explores the impact of serial migration on the dynamics of Caribbean families, with particular focus on the effects of migration-induced maternal separation on the socioemotional and cognitive outcomes of immigrant children.  She teaches a lecture on emotions and offers undergraduate and graduate seminars on poverty, immigrant children, and positive psychology.

Paula Espinoza

Paula is a co-teacher in the 3-4 year class and is the Scandinavian School of Jersey City’s Pedagogista.  She holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from The City College of New York. Paula has called The Scandinavian School her home for the past 5 years where she can nurture play, mindfulness and endless imagination with the children.

Gary Evans

Gary W. Evans, the Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Ecology, Departments of Design and Environmental Analysis and of Human Development, Cornell University is an environmental and developmental psychologist. Evans' scholarship is focused on the physical environment (environmental stressors, cumulative risk, chaos, housing, schools) in child well-being.  Much of his work is focused on the environment of childhood poverty. An award winning teacher, Evans has lectured in over 40 countries and is the author of more than 300 scholarly articles and five books.  He has served as a scientific advisor to the WHO on children’s environmental health, on the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Academy of Sciences, the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, CDC, and the Mac Arthur Foundation Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Professor Evans is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and received an honorary doctorate from Stockholm University.

Kim Ferguson

BA, Knox College. MA, PhD, Cornell University. Special interests include cultural-ecological approaches to infant and child development, children at risk (children in poverty, HIV/AIDS orphans, children in foster care and institutionalized care), health and cognitive development, and development in African contexts. Areas of academic specialization include infant categorization development and the influences of the task, the stimuli used, and infants’ culture, language, and socioeconomic status on their performance; infant face processing in African and American contexts; and relationships between the quality of southern African orphan care contexts and child outcomes.

Maria Germerud-Sharp

Maria holds a Master’s Degree in Education, and is the Founder and Director of The Scandinavian School of Jersey City.  A native of Sweden, Maria resides in Bergen County, NJ with her husband and two children. Combining her passion for education, and ensuring her own children’s connection to Swedish customs, traditions and language, Maria started The Scandinavian School of Jersey City in 2010 with 4 children enrolled. The school has since grown by more than 100 children enrolled, 8 classrooms in 2 buildings, an open kitchen, edible garden and atelier.  As the school has grown, so has Maria’s vision for The Scandinavian School. Giving children time to play, freely navigate and negotiate social relationships, spending time outdoors and in nature, caring for their immediate environment and our earth, learning to practice mindfulness and yoga as well as having opportunities to take risks, both physical and emotional are at the very core of The Scandinavian School of Jersey City.

Mara Gross

Mara Gross has been an educator for the past 30 years. She has worked in a wide variety of settings: public schools, private schools, not-for-profit organizations, research foundations, and political advocacy groups. Regardless of the specific setting, there are three core ideas that unite all of her work: making connections between institutions and their local neighborhoods, developing relationships across cultural and socioeconomic boundaries, and encouraging time for people to think about the meaning of their own experience. In short, for Mara, the heart of education involves an awareness of ourselves interacting with our environment—action and reflection, thinking and doing, inextricably linked, like two ends of the same string.

Natalie Gross

Natalie previously was Director of Diversity and Campus Engagement at Sarah Lawrence College. For the majority of her time at Sarah Lawrence College she worked closely with student identity groups and student space managers as an advocate and or supervisor. She co-created the Real Talk @ SLC program which is a student to student dialogue group focused on unpacking current campus, national, or global issues around identity and social justice. Natalie's work has focused bridging the gaps of academic and social understanding and making space for all in the community to come together to have meaningul dialogues that ideally impact social change. In her off time she works with the parents of the Sarah Lawrence Early Childhood Center on how to have similar dialogues with their young children. Natalie received her BA and MEd from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. 

Tricia Hanley

Tricia is the Director of Child Development Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. She has taught 2-year-olds as a Lead Teacher at the Early Childhood Center at Sarah Lawrence College before going to a position at the Barnard College Toddler Center, where she was a teacher, administrator, supervisor, and parent advisor. After receiving her BA from Columbia and working in a research and academic setting, Tricia earned Masters degrees at Sarah Lawrence in the Art of Teaching and in Child Development. 

Robbin Hawkins

Robbin is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. She is currently the Lead Teacher in the morning threes classes and the afternoon threes/fours classes at the Sarah Lawrence College Early Childhood Center. Robbin has taught at the ECC since coming from Westchester Community College in 1994 as a student studying Early Childhood Education. Cooking and nurturing friendships amongst the children are central activities in Robbin's classroom. Her special interests include social justice issues, supporting the separation process, building community and encouraging kindness amongst group members. In January 2015, Robbin travelled to Tanzania as part of the Child Development Institute and the Janada L. Batchelor Foundation for Children (JBFC) to meet with an begin a relationship of providing professional development for staff and teachers of JBFC. 

Maiya Jackson

Maiya Jackson is the Upper School Director at Manhattan Country School, a pre-K-8 independent school with no racial majority, a sliding-scale tuition, a farm in the Catskills, and a dedication to social justice. Maiya’s commitment to educational equity and progressive education began with the Breakthrough Collaborative, where she started teaching as a high school student and later became co-director of the Long Island program. She chaired the 2015 New York City Progressive Education Network conference, “Access, Equity and Activism: Teaching the Possible,” and co-founded the Progressive Education Network of New York (PENNY), an organization for public district, public charter, independent, and teacher education schools and individuals. Maiya has a BA in English literature from Brown University and a MA in school leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Denisha Jones

Denisha Jones is the Director of Teacher Education and an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Trinity Washington University. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University. Dr. Jones began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher in D.C. after earning her Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education from the University of the District of Columbia. She also worked as a preschool director before spending the last 14 years in teacher education. In 2011, Dr. Jones became active in the fight to stop the corporate takeover of public education, organizing and speaking at numerous rallies, marches, and conferences. Determined to be a more effective advocate, she began law school as a part-time student in 2014 at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law and graduated with her J.D. in May 2018. She has been a board member and administrator for the Badass Teachers Association, Inc., and currently she is the interim Assistant Executive Director for BATs and she serves as chairwoman of the National Advisory Board for the Public Education Defense Fund. Dr. Jones has been working with Defending the Early Years as an advisory board member since 2014. Currently, she is the Director of Early Childhood Organizing and will work with early childhood educators across the country to resist harmful assessments, curriculum, teaching practices. Her research interests include developing a critical consciousness in pre-service teachers, organizing activist research projects that challenge the privatization of public education, and leveraging the intersection of public policy, social movement lawyering, and critical social justice education to dismantle the neoliberal assault on public education.

Milana Kagan

Milana has been teaching at the Ella Baker School for 20 Years. For the last 10 years she has specialized in progressive early childhood education. She is a graduate of the Art of Teaching program at Sarah Lawrence College.

Jon Kaurel

Jon Kaurel is currently working as a Senior Advisor for the Union of Education Norway, mainly focusing on research and policy development in the field of Early Childhood Education. He is a pre-school teacher with a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Education. From 2014 through 2017 he was a PhD student at the University of Oslo. Fall 2016 he got an ASF fellowship and lived with his family (wife and three children) in Harlem, while being a visiting doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University. Jon is now writing his PhD thesis besides working for the Union.

Manija Mayel

Manija holds a BA, International Communications and Minor in Social Sciences, from The American University of Paris. Manija is the Scandinavian School of Jersey City's Chef. Born in Texas in a melting pot of food culture to Afghan immigrants, Manija was exposed to many different flavors from Cajun to Tex-Mex to Southern Comfort Food including her own parents’ home cooking.  The desire to turn to culinary came after she graduated in search for a career in Public Advocacy.  In helping a friend open two restaurants the desire grew stronger leading to her move to NYC.  After some time volunteering in kitchens and then starting a family, she began experimenting with a Vegan diet at home, finding it beneficial to her own optimal health. She began work as a Private Chef, using the bold flavors of her youth.  It was at this time that Manija met the founder of Scandi School as they were just about to expand their school.  She helped develop a Plant- Based Food Program complete with an Edible Garden, an Eco-Committee and Food Prep Opportunities for the Children of the school.  Scandi School’s Communal Lunch provides Fresh meals prepped daily using simple and complex flavors inviting to the eyes and senses, rich with color, flavor and nutrients.  The children’s satisfactory experiences are testaments to honoring the food cycle at SSJC.

Hertta Nilsson

Hertta is Art Educator (MA) and the Supervisor of Heimbold Family Playing and Learning Center at the Scandinavia House. Before relocating from Helsinki to New York, she worked in contemporary art museum Kiasma and Design Museum – and most recently as a lead teacher of visual arts in upper secondary school. She has been developing content for various teaching materials and most recently about design learning for e-textbook (Tabletkoulu). She is a member of NYCMER, the forum for NYC Museum Educators and Pedaali, the Finnish Association for Museum Education. 

Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson

Ingrid is a professor of Early Childhood Education at Gothenburg University, Sweden and holds a UNESCO Chair in ECE and Sustainable Development. Her research focuses on young children’s learning and play, as well as the role of preschools in providing a good childhood for a sustainable future.

Janet Reilly

Janet Reilly is a guest faculty member in politics at Sarah Lawrence College.  Her research focuses on refugee protection and asylum, migration, human rights, humanitarian relief, and political communication, and her current research project, co-authored with Shawna M. Brandle, is a comparative content analysis of media coverage of refugees.  Prior to Sarah Lawrence College, she taught at Queens College- City University of New York (CUNY) and has worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey, Save the Children Foundation in Ethiopia, and Lutheran Family Services’ Refugee Resettlement Program in the United States.  Recent publications include articles in Refugee Survey Quarterly, Human Rights Review, and Refuge, and a chapter in Africa and Its Global Diaspora: The Policy and Politics of Emigration (Palgrave Macmillan 2017).  She received a PhD and MA in political science from the CUNY Graduate Center, and a MSt in forced migration from the University of Oxford. 

Debi Riessen

Debi has taught the two-year-olds and three-year-olds at the Early Childhood Center at Sarah Lawrence College for the past six years.  Previously, Debi taught at Larchmont Temple Nursery School and The 92nd Street Y Parenting Center.  She has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College, and B.A. from SUNY New Paltz in Theater Arts.  Her most recent adventure has been working with staff and children at Mainsprings JBFC in Kitongo, Tanzania.  She has also participated in the Child Development Institute’s Empowering Teachers Program at Sarah Lawrence College for several years. 

Hannah Riarback-Nunez

Hannah holds a B.A. in Communications from Baruch College, Weissman School of Arts & Sciences and a Minor in Sociology. Hannah is the Associate Director of the Scandinavian School of Jersey City, and has been working with children in Early Childhood for over 10 years both in the US and her native Sweden. Hannah is passionate about Scandi School’s mission of protecting childhood through a nurturing environment, ensuring plenty of play, and the focus on health and the outdoors for all children in our community.  As a mother of two, Hannah is thankful that her own children are experiencing a similar upbringing to her own in Sweden, with plenty of time for unstructured play, inside and outside regardless of weather. 

Jennifer Salazar

Jennifer co-leads the Forest Kindergarten at the Scandinavian School of Jersey City.  She holds a B.S. in Communication from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.  She has worked in progressive early childhood classrooms and communities for seven years and incorporates mindful movement and ecological awareness into her practice of working with young children.

Barbara Schecter

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. MA, PhD, Teachers College, Columbia University. Developmental psychologist with special interests in cultural psychology, developmental theories, and language development; author and researcher on cultural issues in development and metaphoric thinking in children.

Judith Wagner

Judith is Emerita Professor of Child Development and Education and Director of The Broadoaks Laboratory/Demonstration School of Whittier College, serving children from preschool through 8th grade. Judith is immediate past Deputy President of the World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) and currently serves as one of its representative at  the United Nations, where she advocates for migrant and refugee children and serves as the liaison with UNICEF for water, sanitation, and hygiene  education (WASH) in early childhood settings.  She is vice president of the Board for Joan Macy School, David and Margaret’s Youth and Family Services in California, providing residential, educational, and social protection for foster children and unaccompanied minor migrant children. Judith received her Ph.D. in child development and education from the University of Pittsburgh.  In 2003 she was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the Psychological Research Center at Denmark’s Pedagogical University (now University of Arhus).  She was named Children’s Champion by the Intercommunity Child Guidance Center in Los Angeles.  She has twice received recognition from the US Congress for her work on behalf of children and families. Judith also teaches and conducts research in Scandinavia where she studies the Nordic concept of The Good Childhood, as well as social status and experience of ethnic minority children in Danish primary schools. 

Sara Wilford

Sara taught undergraduate and graduate students as a member of the Sarah Lawrence psychology faculty from 1982 until her retirement from the College in 2015. A former elementary public school teacher, she was director of the SLC Early Childhood Center for more than 20 years; founding director of the Art of Teaching, an innovative graduate teacher education program, from 1985-2014; and a participant in the public television films When a Child Pretends; From Pictures to Words; and When Values Go to School sponsored by the College's Child Development Institute. A conference speaker and workshop leader, Sara's writings include numerous articles on early childhood development, five years of monthly Policies and Practices columns for Scholastic's Early Childhood Today magazine, and three books: Tough Topics: How to Use Books in Talking With Children About Life Issues and Problems (Longmeadow Press, 1989), What You Need to Know When Your Child is Learning to Read (Scholastic, Inc., 1998), Nurturing Young Children's Disposition to Learn (Redleaf Press, 2009).