Larson and French Promoted to Full Professor

Raffaella Borasi, dean of the Warner School, has announced the promotion of two associate professors to the rank of full professor. The promotions of Joanne Larson and Lucia French were approved by the University's Board of Trustees on May 19.

"Dr. Larson and Dr. French embody the spirit of the Warner School 's mission," says Borasi. "They are nationally recognized as having solid research agendas and contributing significantly to the body of knowledge about literacy, language, learning and development. Their work also has a very direct impact in the Rochester schools, improving policies and practices that support student learning and development.

Lucia French, who teaches in the Teaching and Curriculum and Human Development Programs, is nationally known for the development of ScienceStart!, a science-based preschool curriculum that supports the development of language, early literacy, and age appropriate cognitive skills. The ScienceStart! curriculum capitalizes on children's natural curiosity about the world around them to build the cognitive and social skills and knowledge needed for healthy development and academic success.

French's basic research focuses on the inter-relations in preschoolers' development of language and thought and the role that social interaction plays in this development. She is a former Spencer Follow of the National Academy of Education and a former Fulbright Scholar who did research on early childhood education in Korea . She is the author of one book on children's acquisition of temporal and logical concepts and the words that express them (e.g., after, because) and of numerous chapters and articles in developmental psychology.

She has received more than $5.7 million in funding from private foundations and the federal government for her research, including the Spencer Foundation, the A. L. Mailman Family Foundation, Eastman Kodak, the National Science Foundation, and the United States Department of Education. She is a member of the Scientific Review Panel for Math and Science at the US Department of Education's Institute of Educating Sciences .

Her current project is an Early Reading First Grant from the Department of Education that involves collaborating with four Rochester Catholic schools to create a preschool center of excellence that allows children living in poverty to learn about the everyday world around them and to develop their language and literacy skills. This project involves professional development for teachers as well as extensive outreach to parents. Lending libraries in the preschool, regular distribution of free high-quality books, family literacy workshops and take-home science kits establish parent - child interaction practices that support parents in their role as their children's primary educators.

French oversees the certification program in early childhood education at the Warner School , works extensively with doctoral students, and teaches courses in research methods, child development and early childhood education.

Joanne Larson is chair of the Teaching and Curriculum Department. Her ethnographic research examines how language and literacy practices mediate social and power relations in classroom literacy events. Larson involves teachers as co-researchers to build understanding within the research and practitioner communities of the curricular and teaching practices that build literacy.

Larson has produced the documentary A Life Outside in collaboration with filmmaker David Smith, which aired on WXXI on June 13, 2006 . A Life Outside is a narrative-driven examination of the authentic teaching practices of Rochester School 28 teacher Lynn Gatto, with commentary from Larson.

Larson is also collaborating with teacher Tom Painting and performance poet Reenah Golden-Collier on a Poetry Slam at School of the Arts, harnessing the power of language to make social change. The Poetry Slam project has been funded by grants from the New York State Department of Education and the Edith Glick Shoolman Children's Foundation.

Larson co-authored the book, Making Literacy Real: Theories and Practices for Learning and Teaching (Sage Publications, 2005). She is the editor of Literacy as Snake Oil: Beyond the Quick Fix (Lang, 2001) and co-editor of Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy (Sage, 2003), which provides an overview of contemporary research into early childhood literacy.

Larson teaches elementary teacher preparation and literacy courses, as well as doctoral level courses on curriculum, teaching and change, and qualitative research at the Warner School.

Tags: Joanne Larson, Lucia French