COE Researcher of the Year Ingrid Anderson: A Champion for the Youngest Students
Author: Jillian Daley, College of Education
Posted: May 3, 2019

Most days, Prof. Ingrid Anderson can be found in her office at PSU quietly fighting for the youngest students in the classroom, while wielding the dual academic weapons of servant leadership and collaborative research.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. The PSU Deans have named their Researcher of the Year Award recipients, and Anderson earned the honor in the College of Education (COE). COE Dean Marvin Lynn says Anderson is imminently qualified for this accolade.

A Servant Leader

 “Dr. Ingrid Anderson works exceptionally hard to garner the support necessary for her innovative research which is closely tied to her outstanding teaching, advising, and program leadership work,” Lynn says. “She is also a faithful servant leader in the University and in the larger community. She clearly illustrates the characteristics of an engaged scholar who cares deeply about the College of Education and the students it serves. Dr. Anderson is so deserving of this honor.”
Anderson, who works in Curriculum and Instruction at the COE, says she is deeply committed “to supporting our youngest community members and their teachers” and that the topic of early childhood education is her passion and research focus.

“If we honor children for who they are, and we support and nurture their capacity for curiosity, for wonder,” she says, “then we nurture young children both in the present and into the future. Young children have remarkable abilities to solve the complex problems of the world that we have not been able to address. So, my goal is to look toward children because they have the answers that we’re lacking.”

Not only is she a faculty member advocating for children, but she is an active researcher who is deeply involved in the University and engaged in wider change in early education throughout the community.

A Researcher

Anderson coordinates the Infant Toddler Mental Health programs and co-coordinates the Master of Early Childhood Inclusive Education at PSU. In addition, she is a member of the Early Childhood Council, which is an interdisciplinary group of leaders furthering research and advocacy in early childhood education at PSU.

 “Early childhood education is often incredibly undervalued,” Anderson says, “and my goal is to support early childhood educators in having their voice heard and having the complexity of what happens in the early childhood classroom revealed as well.”
She’s actively working to make that happen. Anderson is leading five projects that aim to empower early childhood educators, and she is in her sixth year of research in early childhood educator emotional health. She notes that her work “looks at fostering resiliency in the early childhood field.”

“As a researcher, I study the emotional lives of early childhood educators,” Anderson says. “As one myself, I am interested in how the world around us affects our mental health and well-being, especially the how and why of what we feel in our work with young children.”

Funded with a $375,000 grant, Anderson is teaming up with the Ford Family Foundation on her main project this year, which she explains focuses on “building resilient practitioners supporting infant mental health in rural Oregon.” In fact, she is further piloting a national model on reflective supervision through her work, which bolsters programming through the Oregon Health Authority and the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

Anderson is connected with various projects in Multnomah County that address equity and access in education. She and Prof. John Nimmo in October 2018 partnered with the African Youth and Community Organization and the Center for African Immigrants and Refugees Oregon on one such project.

This collaborative PSU-community team acquired a $75,000 Oregon Department of Education grant to lead a project supporting East African immigrant families with school children living in Portland. Nimmo says that Anderson is “a researcher at heart” and that he was amazed by “her detailed grasp of funding opportunities and networks, and her almost encyclopedic knowledge of local and national resources.”

An Advocate

“She is driven by her vision of equity and inclusion, always imagining the possibilities that elude most of us,” Nimmo says. “Ingrid brings her love of inquiry into how she teaches and cares for students, how she collaborates with organizations, and how she thinks about pedagogy with young children.”

In September 2018, Anderson even found time to travel to Peru with eight students and Professor Emerita Christine Chaillé for a study in collaboration with a network of schools in Lima. The topic centered on “the impact of early childhood education in strengthening fragile democracies,” Anderson says.

Chaillé adds that she has collaborated on many projects with Anderson, including ongoing research that Anderson initiated “on digital environments in constructivist early childhood classrooms, in collaboration with two teachers (and doctoral students).” Chaillé explains that Anderson is a highly regarded expert on early childhood education.

“She has already become a pioneering resource for many around the country and internationally,” Chaillé says. “Her critical perspective on the subject, combined with innovative explorations in classrooms, is poised to have a significant impact on the field.”

Anderson in 2017 received support from the Dean’s Fund for Excellence on a project to strengthen parents’ voices in making Multnomah County preschools affordable and free from discrimination of any kind.

She launched her career 30 years ago as an early childhood educator. Over the years, when she works with government entities and school districts, the same question about early childhood education keeps troubling her.

“Why wasn’t this quite working the way I thought it should?” she says.

She hopes to find the answer through her research.

“I support the incredible capacity of children and families through my research,” she says. “My passion is to support the voices in the early childhood classroom and let the community to be front and center.”

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