Related professional experience
In high school, Amanda Moreno, PhD, read a book called “Dibs in Search of Self” that influenced her entire career path. The story of a gifted child who has trouble expressing himself and how his interactions with the book’s author, clinical psychologist Virginia M. Axline, brought about remarkable changes, resonated with the young Dr. Moreno.
“After reading the book, I kept thinking, ‘If only all children had greater opportunities and resources to help them realize their full potential,’ ” she says. “That’s what holds people back — not their level of intelligence.”
Throughout her career, which has included direct service, research, and instructional roles, her focus has been on understanding the connections between children’s social-emotional well-being and learning. Of particular interest is the role adults play in providing children with conditions that foster positive development and the factors that impact the ability of adults to fulfill that role.
Her current research includes a federally funded, four-year study on mindfulness practices in Chicago Public Schools classrooms, the first one of its kind looking at a large sample of kindergarten through second grade students in high-poverty schools. She also has studied preschools and child care centers to understand how best to work with adults and provide resources to enhance their sensitivity to the interactions they have with children.
Students in both on-campus and online versions of Dr. Moreno’s courses can expect rigorous and lively discussions in which bold ideas, creativity, and applied thinking are valued over “correct” answers and statistics. With rigor also comes support, and she notes that students will find a network of faculty, staff, and peers more than willing to offer encouragement and assistance. “Children are serious business, so we consider it our job to help you succeed.”