CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Jan. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Teachstone, developer of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) included in 23 states' Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) and used by Head Start programs nationwide, today announced it has added four early childhood education experts to its senior leadership team.

The research is clear that a quality early learning experience can positively shape the trajectory of not only a child's life, but her entire family. Across the U.S., we're seeing the rise of intentional policymaking, funding, and practice aimed at ensuring the expansion of high-quality early learning and childcare. We're thrilled to welcome such esteemed colleagues who will help to accelerate our own mission to help every child reach their full potential by improving the interactions around them.

-Teachstone Co-Founder Bridget Hamre

As states navigate the effects of the pandemic on the cognitive and social emotional development of children, Teachstone's evidence-based CLASS assessment and unique professional development is being used across the country to help providers deliver the supports children need urgently.

The expanded leadership team includes the appointment of:

  • Dr. Sarah Caverly as Vice President of Research and Evaluation: An experienced researcher and analyst with more than 20 years experience at conducting large scale, rigorous evaluations in education. Caverly joins Teachstone after serving as a Principal Researcher at the American Institutes for Research. Previously, she held multiple leadership roles on impact evaluations of programs for early childhood education, early literacy, and children's social and emotional learning. Most recently, her primary focus has been on translating evidence to support practitioners, including the What Works Clearinghouse and the Science of Learning and Development Alliance, evaluating the impact of MyTeachingPartner, and examining culturally responsive instructional practices in elementary schools.

  • Suzann Morris as Senior Director of Public Policy and Government Relations: A national expert on early childhood policy with more than 15 years experience, Morris joins Teachstone after serving as a senior fellow with the Bipartisan Policy Center's Early Childhood Initiative. She previously served as the Deputy Secretary for the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning, where she also served as a member of the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission and co-chaired the Pennsylvania Early Learning Council. Her tenure included significant growth and modernization of Pennsylvania's first combined quality and child care resource and referral system, increased investment in a credit-bearing professional development system, and a revision of one of the nation's oldest QRIS.

  • Dr. Veronica Fernandez as Senior Director of Social Impact: Dr. Fernandez is a developmental psychologist and has spent nearly 15 years focused on the development of early childhood education professionals. Previously, she was a research scientist at the University of Miami where she led the development, implementation, and evaluation of an innovative and impactful coaching intervention. Throughout her career, she has focused on developing and promoting equity, anti-racism, and anti-bias practices. In this role, which is new to Teachstone, she will bring deep knowledge of educational ecosystems spanning birth to fifth grade, as well as expertise in building, testing, and refining impactful solutions centered on the assets and experiences of children who are culturally, linguistically, and racially diverse, and children experiencing poverty.

  • Grace Funk as Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives: Funk joins Teachstone after serving as an early learning coach manager with the City of Seattle's Department of Education and Early Learning. In that role, she led and supported the development, implementation, refinement, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement of numerous innovative professional development models. Previously, she was a research scientist at the University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning. Starting in the classroom, Funk has dedicated more than 20 years to education, focusing on effective teacher-child interactions, educator and leader coaching, system improvement, and educational justice.

"Building back better requires innovative, evidence-based solutions for children and families," Hamre added. "Teachstone stands ready to meet the moment."