Alumni Film Event Examines the Importance of Early Childhood Education for At-Risk Children

On Thursday, March 24, the Bank Street College Alumni Association (BSCAA) hosted “Conversation and Film: Developmentally Grounded Practices in Urban Settings,” a Centennial event that gathered members of the Bank Street community and beyond to explore the importance of quality early childhood education for children in underserved communities.

The evening began with a screening of the short documentary film, Ready for Kindergarten, a production by Nebraska Loves Public Schools that revealed what quality early childhood education looks like in Nebraska, where 40 percent of children live in low-income households. The film demonstrated how early learning programs are crucial for the development and life trajectories of children from at-risk backgrounds, which paved the way for the evening’s alumni panelists to share their perspectives as experts and practitioners in the field.

“With the recent advances in brain development, what we know now is that it’s really no longer a philosophical discussion about the importance of early learning,” said Nancy Cardwell, GSE ’88, assistant professor in the early childhood education graduate program at The City College of New York. “What we know now is that it’s physically, cognitively, and social-emotionally critical to have high-quality care from birth through 5.”

Other panelists included Ron Azoulay, GSE ’04, founding partner of Khamsa Group, LLC; Susan Ochshorn, GSE ’99, founder of consulting firm ECE PolicyWorks; and Betsy Grob, GSE ’72, co-editor with Julie Diamond and Fretta Reitzes of Teaching Kindergarten: Learner-Centered Classrooms for the 21st Century. The conversation was moderated by Whendy Carter, GSE ’03 and vice president of BSCAA.