Menu Harvard Graduate School of Education
banner image

The Science of Early Learning and Adversity: Daily Leadership to Promote Development and Buffer Stress

6/22/17 to 6/23/17

Tuition: $199

Priority Application Deadline: May 11, 2017

Early application, in advance of the priority deadline, is strongly recommended. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

What You Will Learn

The decisions and actions of leaders are the linchpin of the early learning environment. Each day, early education leaders are designing and driving the policies, processes, and interactions that shape teaching and learning. Participants in The Science of Early Learning and Adversity: Daily Leadership to Promote Development and Buffer Stress will return to their settings with enhanced knowledge, and leadership and organizational strategies that support the design and implementation of strong early learning environments — those that buffer stress, reduce challenging behaviors, and promote development. This new program, featuring keynote speaker Walter Gilliam and offered as part of the Saul Zaentz Professional Learning Academy, is squarely aligned with the Academy’s mission to equip leaders with the cutting-edge knowledge, strategic tactics, and collaborative networks needed to design and implement approaches and policies that improve young children's learning environments.

Program Overview

This two-day on-campus program will be guided by the question: How can early education leaders support the design and implementation of strong early learning environments, particularly in settings serving children facing adversity?

The institute will be led and facilitated by Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones, Faculty Directors of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Participants in this two-day on-campus program will work with renowned thought leaders, Walter Gilliam, Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University, and expert in creating learning environments that support children with behavioral and mental health needs; Amanda Williford, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, and one of the creators of the innovative Banking Time program; and Tom Hehir, an expert on supporting children with special needs and Silvana and Christopher Pascucci Professor of Practice in Learning Differences at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

This knowledge will then be put into action: working with expert facilitators and colleagues, participants will develop a strategic plan for leadership related to stress and classroom management in the early learning environments they lead. Following this two-day engagement, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in remote, follow-up coaching sessions to debrief the program and support the implementation of their strategic plans.

Related News

Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative
Why Preschool Suspensions Still Happen (And How To Stop Them)
Empowering Early Childhood Educators

Program Objectives
  • Build a collaborative community among a national network of early childhood education leaders facing common challenges
  • Discover the latest science describing the relationship between adverse experiences and early learning
  • Identify the adult competencies necessary for cultivating learning environments that buffer stress, and learn how to develop and support those competencies among early educators
  • Develop a strategic plan for leadership related to stress and classroom management in the early learning environment
  • Engage in a remote, follow-up coaching session to support the implementation of a strategic plan
Who Should Attend
  • Directors of early education centers or programs
  • Leaders of early education service organizations across the mixed delivery system
  • Directors, administrators, and coaches in public school pre-K programs
  • Team members invited by directors and leaders–those who are responsible for directly supporting teachers in their work, such as instructional coaches, supervisors, or teachers who take on leadership roles 
Faculty Chairs

Nonie Lesaux is the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society. Her research focuses on promoting the language and literacy skills of children from diverse linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds.  Her research formed the basis for a reading proficiency bill passed in Massachusetts and informs her work across the country leading teams of district and state leaders, center directors, administrators, and teachers focused on strengthening their Pre-K to 3rd initiatives. Lesaux recently served on the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council's Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8 and is the chair of the Massachusetts' Board of Early Education and Care.

Stephanie Jones is the Marie and Max Kargman Associate Professor in Human Development and Urban Education. Her research focuses on the long-term effects of poverty and exposure to violence on children’s social and emotional development, as well as the impact of education interventions focused on promoting social-emotional and academic skills. Jones was awarded the Grawemeyer Award in Education for her work with Edward   Zigler and Walter Gilliam on A Vision for Universal Preschool Education. Jones serves on numerous national advisory boards and expert consultant groups related to social-emotional development and child and family anti-poverty policies, including the National Boards of Parents as Teachers and Engaging Schools. 



Step One
Provide your personal and institutional information.

Step Two
Explain how participation in the program will benefit your work and describe one or more significant challenges you would like to explore during the program. (250 word limit)


Identify Your Team Coordinator

  • Before beginning the application process, you will need to identify a team coordinator.
  • The coordinator will be the primary point of contact during the application process and preparation for the program.
  • The coordinator does not need to attend the program and will have the opportunity to indicate if they will be attending during the application process.

Application Process

  • A team application to be completed once by the coordinator.
  • A team member application to be completed by each member of your team.
  • In order for your team to be considered for review by the admissions committee, each team member will need to complete the team member application. The coordinator will receive a link to the team member application once the team application is complete.
  • Once started, the team application must be completed in a single session. It should take 15–20 minutes to complete.
  • A list of required questions will be provided at the beginning of the team application.
  • When your coordinator is ready to complete the team application, it can be accessed by continuing to the next page.
Fees, Hotel Accommodations, and Policies

Payment or a purchase order must be received within thirty days of program acceptance and prior to the program start. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses. While a purchase order confirms a reservation, an outstanding balance is maintained until payment is rendered.

Please click here for more information on hotel accommodations for on-campus programs.

Please click here for more information on our on-campus and online refund and withdrawal policies. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your ability to participate, please contact our admissions team at or 1-800-545-1849.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education reserves the right to change faculty or cancel programs at its discretion. In the unlikely event of program changes, the school is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred.

Campaign Banner

Learn to Change the World

The Campaign for Harvard Graduate School of Education enables HGSE to fulfill its vision of changing the world through education by expanding opportunity and improving outcomes.

Learn More