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Prof. Williford Joins National Summit on Early Childhood Education


By Kathy Neesen

Amanda Williford Amanda Williford, research associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, was one of several faculty members invited to attend a National Summit on Early Childhood Education in Orlando, Florida.

The summit, spearheaded by the University of Florida’s Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, was attended by over 75 faculty members and professionals from the areas of education, law, medicine and public health. It brought together early childhood leaders from around the country and from different professions, who often help shape a young child’s development but do not always work together.

Williford is excited about the summit’s initiative to create new transdisciplinary partnerships that can move the needle in early childhood science, practice and policy. “There was a high level of engagement and excitement from the invited speakers, panelists, facilitators and members who came from a wide variety of disciplines but who all shared a common cause of making early childhood a national priority,” said Williford.

The summit’s broad goal focused on finding ways to give all children a strong start in their first five years of life. “We focused on shaping solutions and taking action to address the grand challenges in science, policy and practice in early childhood,” Williford said. She added that the summit participants recommended a focus on three key themes: Discovering the keys to open young minds, finding ways to influence the influencers who can unlock children’s potential, and inspiring new initiatives for the next generation.

The summit took place over three days, February 8-10, and included a keynote by Jacqueline Jones of the Foundation for Child Development, who served as the U.S. Department of Education’s first deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning. The summit also included a series of presentations from panelists with expertise in psychiatry, pediatrics, psychology, law, education and advocacy, all focused on the factors that can both foster and hinder a child’s early development.

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