WSU’s Early Learning Coalition will host an early learning summit next fall in Seattle.
 
The summit was announced during a joint appearance by WSU President Elson S. Floyd and University of Washington President Mark Emmert at a Foundation for Early Learning meeting Feb. 29 in Seattle.
 
When Gov. Chris Gregoire created the Washington State Department of Early Learning in 2006, she said, “Early learning is the new frontier in education and Washington can lead the nation in quality child care and early learning programs.”
 
The summit is part of a concerted effort to highlight the work of early learning researchers in the Pacific Northwest, but also to learn more about exciting research being conducted elsewhere.
 
Lynda Paznokas, associate dean for the School and Community Collaboration Center in the College of Education, said WSU’s Early Learning Coalition has been building momentum internally since its inception more than a year ago and is excited about the possibility of increased external visibility.
 
“It is time for the state to think about WSU when they think about early learning,” she said.
 
The Early Learning Coalition, at 70 members and growing, is arguably one of the most interdisciplinary groups at WSU involved in all aspects of WSU’s mission — education, research and outreach. Members include faculty or staff from nearly every college and campus, as well as throughout WSU Extension.
 
Jared Lisonbee, an assistant professor in human development, said the diversity of the coalition offers exciting possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration. Lisonbee, who studies the stress response of children in preschool settings, said the coalition also will help members share contacts and have a greater impact at the state or federal level.
 
“WSU as a system does so much…we had no idea,” said Paznokas. According to Paznokas, the WSU Foundation was the catalyst for bringing together people from all over WSU involved in early learning. The first meeting was in late 2005, just after Gregoire launched Washington Learns and began laying the groundwork for the creation of the state’s Department of Early Learning.
 
The coalition is run by the Early Learning Coalition Advisory Council, representing various units across the university.
 
The goal, Paznokas said, is to create a network of faculty and staff who can support and enhance each others’ research, education and outreach efforts. Along with that, the group hopes that by forming diverse partnerships, faculty and staff will be strong competitors for grant money from state and federal agencies as well as private foundations.