Head Start to Head of the Class

It was under the mentorship of Pacific Oaks Professor Magda Gerber, whose forward-thinking work led to a new understanding of infant development, that Ruth Anne Hammond discovered her passion in life—to work with children during their earliest years. Today Ruth Anne is among the thousands of Pacific Oaks faculty and alumni who are making a difference in the lives they touch—through their teaching, their interaction with clients, and their research.

Contributing to the body of professional knowledge is a tradition at Pacific Oaks. As early as 1965, educational leaders were taking note of the small, new college in Pasadena and requesting its participation in launching the nation's first federally funded comprehensive child development program—Head Start. In the years that followed, more than 22 million low-income children would receive a much-needed head start in life, thanks to the pioneering efforts of the initiative's charter training programs.

Ruth Anne's recent book, Respecting Babies: A New Look at Magda Gerber's RIE Approach, takes the historic partnership to a new level. Her publication, which offers fresh insight into Gerber's practice of training "educarers" to understand an infant's communication and meet its needs effectively, will soon be used as a tool in all 1,700 Early Head Start programs across the country.

"Our approach is all about letting small children participate in decisions about their learning," she says. "We can trust them to know what their next piece of learning needs to be, and help them continue building their knowledge in the way that works best for them."


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