Winning students going abroad, on TV

Brian Puerling, an Erikson master’s student, introduced his preschool classroom to the world of writing and publishing with a lesson series so engaging it won the Public Broadcasting Service’s Teachers Innovation Award.

His classmate Erin Stanfill will explore a different world of teaching this summer after winning a grant to attend a Reggio Emilia summer institute in Italy.

Puerling, who teaches preschool at Augustus H. Burley Elementary School in Chicago, took his students through the whole authoring process, from first draft to book signing. Lessons included a class visit from a children’s book author and a video showing how books are printed.

The lessons culminated with publication of a book the children wrote and illustrated. They autographed copies for their parents at a book-signing party.

Puerling’s prize: he’ll will work with Chicago’s local PBS station, WTTW, to promote innovative teaching practices across the country. He’ll also participate in other PBS activities, including conference presentations and online community leadership.

Stanfill, also a Chicago Public Schools preschool teacher enrolled in Erikson’s master’s program, received a grant to attend a Reggio Emilia summer institute in Italy. The grant from the Chicago Foundation for Education supports teachers who want to pursue special projects that will improve their practice and benefit their students.

During the weeklong trip she will visit early childhood classrooms, talk to teachers, participate in small-group discussions, and meet with politicians to gain a top-down understanding of how the Reggio approach is implemented.

Stanfill hopes to bring back techniques that foster a collaborative community of learners, in which everyone—parents, teachers, administrators, and other supporting professionals, such as librarians—works together on a cohesive strategy to educate the children.