Kristen Missall

Growing up in a household of educators, Kristin Missall learned the importance of education in her earliest years.

Now, the new University of Washington associate professor of education is focused on understanding and supporting the development of children during this "hopeful time," their preschool and elementary school years.

Missall recently answered questions about her research agenda, the courses she'll be teaching in UW's school psychology program and more.

What drew you to education?

I grew up in a family of educators. My mother and my grandmothers taught elementary school, and my father was a professor of music. In fact, my father’s path from a high school band teacher, through graduate school, and to higher education intersected with my formative years. A value and respect for education pulsed through all my early experiences.

Describe your research and service agenda.

I am a school psychologist. I am interested in understanding and supporting the early development of children in the years from preschool through elementary school. Big-picture, prevention models grab my interest, but often I work in the areas of assessment and intervention of critical, discrete skill development — the early academic and pro-social skills necessary for later school adjustment and success. My recent engagements with research and education communities have most often related to school readiness, preschool-third grade assessment and curriculum models, home supports for early school success, and achievement gap issues.

What makes this work meaningful to you?

Early development is a hopeful time. When children’s early developmental trajectories are headed in directions that lead to negative outcomes, early intervention is often successful. If my work can contribute in any little way to better outcomes for individuals, families and communities, I will keep working.

What attracted you to UW's College of Education?

I have had the opportunity to observe many academic programs and institutions of higher education, and interact with their faculty in professional communities. For some time, UW’s College of Education has been on my “what if” list. I feel absolutely giddy to have the opportunity to work with colleagues I consider to be among the most thoughtful, compassionate and productive in the country.

What courses will you be teaching and what current/future courses are you most excited about?

Autumn quarter I am teaching EDPSY 507 Academic Assessment and Intervention and EDPSY 554 Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. Winter and spring quarters I will teach EDPSY 500, which is a field-study experience related to both of these courses. Also in spring I will teach EDPSY 573 Preschool Assessment. All of these classes are part of the graduate sequence for school psychology students. Each of these classes is well-aligned with my interests, experiences and expertise. Currently, I am enjoying my autumn courses and the energy and excitement with which students are engaging. I have found our students to be motivated to learn the content, willing to accept the challenges, and excited to consider new perspectives for their evolving professional identities.

What is your favorite education-related book?

My advisor in graduate school gave me a book that I have enjoyed more than once — Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. Each time I read it I learn something new about the writing process and the metaphorical and literal connections to everyday life.

What's something that students and colleagues should know about you?

I am a “work hard, play hard” and “a place for everything and everything in its place” kind of person. I am a big fan of lists, order, goal-setting and fun. I prefer effort over accomplishment on almost every occasion. I believe conflict arises from lack of communication and unmet expectations, and I put a great deal of effort into building relationships and communicating with others. I prefer to work as part of a team because I think outcomes and products are better as a result, and I strive to address everything with positivism. Life, for me, is about living fully and surrounding myself with others who exude warmth.

Besides your work, what's something that you're passionate about?

My family is my center. I have an amazing husband, Robb, and we have three equally special and hilarious children (Meggie, 12; Max, 9; Alex, 5). Our house is filled with additional love from Finn, the golden retriever, and Bruno Bean the guinea pig. As a family we love to travel near and far, watch movies, eat ice cream, work on home improvement, share about our days, and laugh ... a lot. Parenting is my most important, and my most rewarding, work. When a few minutes of time surface just for me, I love to attend a Jazzercise class and play my clarinet.


Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications