NewsJul 9, 2018

Advocating for the youngest learners

Lesley, an early childhood education and advocacy pioneer, takes part in ‘Wonder of Learning’

Two students sitting at a computer while one points to the screen.

With a 26-year legacy as leaders in the teaching and promotion of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, we’re marshaling education and art faculty, alumni and other resources for the 2018 Wonder of Learning exhibition, through Nov. 15.

The exhibition has been organized by the Boston Area Reggio Inspired Network (BARIN), a grassroots organization of educators dedicated to the development of young children, and those who teach them. The exhibition is underway at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development.

Dr. Lisa Fiore, co-chair of our University’s Education Division and coordinator of the 2020 Reggio Emilia-inspired Institute, said the Wonder of Learning exhibition and related events feature faculty, alumni, and current students throughout the activities, including exhibition planning and installation. Community members will lead workshops, teach classes, and serve as exhibition guides throughout the run of the Wonder of Learning. In addition, we will host a signature event in November, featuring faculty authors whose work has been inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and honoring internationally recognized ambassadors of the work.

“The presence of the exhibition in Boston reflects the collaborative spirit that is at the core of the Reggio Emilia approach,” said Fiore. “The images of children and increased understanding about the complexities of children’s learning processes have the potential to influence policy and practice in truly meaningful ways.”

Susan Twombly, an instructor in the Graduate School of Education, and her museum-educator husband orchestrated the installation of the exhibition. She discusses what spurred her to help bring the Wonder of Learning to Boston.

“I first saw a version of this exhibit in the early ’80s when I was new teacher,” Twombly says. “I was so struck by the competency of the children and the creative approach to learning depicted that I continued to pursue information about the Reggio Emilia schools for the rest of my career.”

Her experience was transformative.

“Seeing this exhibit changed my view of the child and continues to influence my teaching and advocacy for children,” she says. “It is my hope that teachers today will be similarly inspired by the work of the Reggio educators through opportunities to explore this exhibit and discuss it with others.”

Lesley community members actively engaged in the Wonders of Learning exhibit include:


Dr. Lisa Fiore, Professor (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences)
Mary Geisser, Adjunct Faculty; doctoral student
Kristina Lamour Sansone, MFA (Lesley Art + Design)
Dr. Yvonne Liu-Constant, Associate Professor (Graduate School of Education)
Mary Mindess, Professor Emerita (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences)
Saameh Solaimani, Adjunct Faculty
Dr. Joanne Szamreta, Professor Emerita (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences)
Susan Twombly, Instructor (Graduate School of Education)
Maggie VanCamp, Adjunct Faculty; doctoral student


Julie Bernson, M.Ed.
Laura Friedman, M.Ed.
Harriet Garskovas, Ph.D.
Susan MacDonald, B.S.
David Ramsey, Ph.D.

Created after World War II in the small Italian city of Reggio Emilia, the eponymous early-education approach emphasizes relationships between students, teachers, families and the community, guided by the philosophy that children have the desire to connect with others, engage in learning and enter into a relationship with their environment. The hands-and-minds-on exploration of materials and media is an essential part of the approach.

We offer workshops, courses, and an institute, each year, all of which focus on teaching participants Reggio Emilia methods.