Evidence Brief: Ideal Learning Environments
Scientific evidence supports key principles of early learning environments Many studies have demonstrated that early childhood is a critical time…
Dr. Wendy Waithe Simmons is a State Services Liaison with the Build Initiative and a member of the Ideal Learning Roundtable (ILR). Most recently, she was the inaugural Executive Director of New Haven ChILD (NH ChILD), a place-based pilot that grew out of the ILR’s work. It was conceptualized by ILR members (Bank Street College of Education and the Friends Center for Children) with support from the Trust for Learning (TFL) and other ILR members. Wendy values the work of ILR and the opportunity to expand Ideal Learning across the city of New Haven.
Wendy is also a licensed psychologist with more than 30 years of experience working with children and families. Throughout her career, she has engaged with children and families through teaching, direct clinical service, consultation, program development, and research in both educational and clinical settings. She believes that all children deserve to have the opportunity to have multiple pathways towards success. She has a specific interest in developing and implementing programs for children from a variety of backgrounds who have been experiencing social, behavioral, and/or academic challenges, particularly for children birth through five years of age.
Additionally, she is an Adjunct Professor in the Early Childhood Department at Gateway Community College and a Member of the Expert Advisory Panel for the University of Connecticut’s Pre-K to 3 Leadership Program. Prior to NH ChILD, Dr. Simmons was the Director of Education and Equity at Connecticut Voices for Children (Voices), a research, state policy, and advocacy organization. While at Voices, she advocated for equitable policies in early care as well as education for children and youth from birth through college and/or career. She was also the Director of the Connecticut College and Career Readiness Alliance and Manager for the Voices’ Associate Policy Fellows Program, a program introducing and supporting recent college graduates to state policy advocacy. For almost 10 years, she worked at the State Education Resource Center (SERC), where she started as a consultant providing professional learning across various settings. Professional learning content included racial equity, special education, positive behavior intervention and supports, school improvement systems and structures, professional learning communities, and data teams, as examples. She had several leadership roles at SERC before becoming the Director for Development, Community Affairs, & Equity and the first Director of the SERC Foundation.
Dr. Simmons received her doctoral training in School Psychology at the University of South Carolina and post-doctoral child clinical training at the Child Study Center at Yale University where she was also an Associate Research Scientist. She is an avid reader, wife, and mother of two lovely daughters.
NH ChILD proposes to revolutionize the early care and education landscape in New Haven, Connecticut by bringing the community together…