Visiting Scholar Emanuela Pettinari Joins Bank Street for the Fall Semester

This fall, Emanuela Pettinari, a PhD student studying Pedagogical Sciences in the “Giovanni Maria Bertin” Department of Education Studies at the University of Bologna in Italy, will join Bank Street Graduate School of Education as a visiting scholar.

Throughout the semester, Pettinari will participate in a variety of academic activities, such as attending graduate school courses, meetings, and research team discussions, while working closely with Jessica Charles, Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Graduate School of Education. She will also present her current research project, which explores the accessibility of children and family centers in Italy, to gain global perspectives and expert insights from Bank Street faculty and staff.

In the Q&A below, Pettinari shares more about her years of experience as an elementary school teacher and her diverse educational background, spanning from music to pedagogy to teacher education. Additionally, Pettinari discusses her research and what she hopes to accomplish during her time at Bank Street.

Visiting scholar Emanuela Pettinari presenting

Q: What inspired you to choose Bank Street for your visiting scholar experience?

A: I chose Bank Street because I saw in your College the same commitment to delve into educational issues from a social inclusion perspective. I also found it inspiring the way Bank Street focuses on educators and teachers, but also on families and children. When I read on the website that Bank Street “has a long history as a leader in progressive education and a deep commitment to principles of social justice. We see in education the opportunity to build a better society,” I thought that your institution would be the most suitable place for my PhD visit abroad.

Q: What do you hope to achieve during your time here?

A: Through my experience as a visiting scholar, I will gather new insights to help guide my research on centers and parents in Italy from a different perspective with the help of the professors and researchers I will meet. 

Q: What excites you the most about the opportunity to join the Bank Street community as a visiting scholar?

A: I am excited by the idea of being able to be a part of such a prestigious research community, but also by the opportunity to engage with diverse worldviews that come from such a rich and complex socio-cultural context as New York City.

Q: How does your diverse educational background influence your research and teaching approaches?

A: I am very happy to have been able to receive such a varied education and, as much as I can, I try to make use of some of the teachings in my research and teaching activities. First, I think music and working with it has taught me the importance of a playful approach, which motivates students to learn and helps to find strategies for self-expression. Pedagogy has allowed me to reflect on my everyday educational practice with students from a critical perspective. Research teaches me every day not to take anything for granted, not to settle on the surface, but always to find other lenses to analyze reality.

Q: Can you elaborate on your research project, which explores how to make children and family centers more accessible and open to the emerging needs of families?

A: The research project that my supervisor, Professor Balduzzi, and I are following deals with centers for children and families in which parents/caregivers and educators are simultaneously present with the children during educational activities. These are services that originated in Italy in the 1980s to support families in finding new parenting strategies within a complex and rapidly changing society. Within the landscape of current reform on the integrated early childhood education and care system in Italy, the Pedagogical Guidelines for working with children from 0 to 6 years old (2021) have given even greater value to this type of service, which alongside daycare centers, have an important function in supporting the most at-risk families. Italy’s Municipality of Modena has been asked to rethink its Centers for Children and Families (Centri per bambini e famiglie) in light of new parental needs that have emerged from the pandemic, but also in light of the new policy landscape, so that all families feel welcome and can approach services from very early childhood.

Q: What experiences from your 10 years of teaching inspired your research in early childhood education, inclusive education, parent support, and teaching Italian as a second language?

A: When I first entered a multicultural classroom, I suddenly realized the importance of creating a communicative channel with both families and children, and I started finding strategies and techniques to do it. Also, the fact that as a teacher I received so many requests for support from families made me recognize the need for synergistic work between services, schools, and parents for an education that includes everyone. The pandemic highlighted this and made me understand how much I still need to work in this direction: To do this, I decided to apply for the PhD.

Q: How have you applied your research interests in your work?

A: My experiences as a teacher generated new questions and through my current research work I am exploring possible answers. After finishing my doctorate, I hope to return to my work as a teacher with more awareness and tools that I hope to share with colleagues.