As a teacher at a San Francisco preschool, Kathleen Kuhl experienced first-hand the gap between the daily practice of teachers and policies created from afar.
“While teaching I felt that I was experiencing every facet of the field of early childhood education that makes it complicated and profoundly challenging and deeply rewarding,” Kuhl said. “All throughout my time teaching I felt cut off from any sort of policy or leadership decisions, and increasingly confronted with the differing quality of programs for children from different neighborhoods in San Francisco.”
Kuhl went on to become a program manager for Parent Services Project in San Rafael, Calif., a non-profit organization that works to integrate family engagement, family support and parent leadership into schools and communities. As Kuhl gained experience with the organizational and political complexities involved in early education, she was inspired to become more involved with policy and leadership issues that would enable her to lead change.
That brought her to the University of Washington College of Education, where she's pursuing her doctorate in organizational and policy studies and an active student leader as incoming chair of Associated Students of the College of Education.
“I would like to highlight the role and impact of early childhood, from birth to age eight, in the larger world of education — from research, to policy, to leadership. [Early childhood education] is a fundamental piece of an equitable [and] just educational system,” Kuhl said. “I started my career in education in preschool, and I’m constantly reminded of these roots. Individuals from outside the field often define the field of early childhood education, and I believe the field needs leaders with these roots.”
As a research assistant at the UW's National P-3 Center, Kuhl is engaged in research and working to support approaches to education policy and preschool to third grade alignment issues.
Her research efforts have including co-authoring “P-3 in Action Across Washington: Leadership from Community, School, & District Administrators,” published in the Washington Educational Research Association’s spring 2015 spring journal. The article highlight strategies used in Washington to improve quality of learning opportunities for young children, bring greater coherence to the P-3 continuum, and to close achievement gaps early.
Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications