Nancy Clark-Chiarelli is a research scientist in early childhood education with international experience that frequently brings her to Singapore, among other places around the world.
She is currently teaching two courses at Wheelock College-Singapore, one called Assessment of Children With Special Needs, and the other, Interpersonal Skills of Leadership.
Nancy previously taught the course on Assessment of Children with Special Needs in Singapore in 2014 and in Boston when students traveled to the Wheelock College campus in Boston, MA. However, she feels the course has more contextual relevance in Singapore, where she sees great strides being made on the special education front.
“Singapore has come such a long way in terms of special needs. There is much greater awareness of, and advocacy for, families and their children with special needs. Educators and parents want access to inclusive education classrooms and parents are more aware today of the benefits for their children with disabilities.”
Of course, advocating for families with special needs children takes leadership skills, and learning these skills is what Nancy teaches in her second course, Interpersonal Skills of Leadership.
“The vision is that our Wheelock students will be Sinapore’s leaders in early childhood in the very near future. Wheelock has a solid track record in that regard, with the undergraduate program and the master’s program at SEED. When one surveys the landscape of early childhood leaders in Singapore, you find an abundance of Wheelock alumni.”
The leadership course also emphasizes the interpersonal aspect of leadership, and additionally ties in the importance of advocacy. “It helps students to confront the challenges that come with being a leader. The focus is on developing communication skills, undergirded by knowledge and competence, in the service of effective leadership.”
“One of the characteristics of good leadership is having a vision that people all buy into. At a macro level, Singapore’s government leaders have a vision of where they are going and how to get there – that drives a lot of the other sectors including early childhood.”
In addition to her teaching duties at Wheelock, Nancy is principal research scientist at the Education Development Center in Massachusetts, and recently finished a posting in the Philippines as senior technical advisor to the Ministry of Education, working on a project called Basa Pilipinas—or “Read Philippines” that has helped thousands of early primary teachers use better literacy techniques in the classroom.
Her research agenda includes children learning in the context of multiple languages. For example, children in the Philippines often learn in three languages – a mother tongue, Filipino, and English, similar to children in Singapore who learn in mother tongue, English, and often at least one more language and maybe more.
Nancy reflects with pride at Wheelock’s lasting contributions to early childhood education in Singapore and is grateful for her opportunity to contribute.
“Wheelock has helped develop a strong foundation for early childhood in Singapore. The young women and men who have graduated from the Wheelock program, they have and will continue to advance the sector in all ways.”