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Copy of Revised SteffanyIn this podcast, we speak with Glen Cooper, one of the founders of Circle of Security, a program that helps parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators develop tools to form secure attachments with children and understand how to meet the needs of children who have experienced trauma. Having learned that Circle of Security was being used as part of a pilot program for mothers at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, we were curious to learn more about how the program was developed. Glen, who has extensive training in family system therapy, object relations theory, and attachment theory, worked with colleagues Kent Hoffman and Bert Powell to combine those theories into an approach that allows parents, educators, and caregivers to identify and address the underlying causes of challenging behaviors in children. In this interview, Glen also addresses the unique challenges facing incarcerated parents and how Circle of Security is being used at Coffee Creek and elsewhere to support parents who are in prison and their children.

Earl Boyles ElementaryFor our 23rd segment, we interviewed Dr. Marina Merrill from Children’s Institute (CI) and Dr. Beth Green from Portland State University (PSU). Dr. Merrill is the senior research and policy advisor for CI and leads the organization’s research on prenatal through third-grade issues, evaluation, data collection, and analysis. Dr. Green is a research professor and the director of early childhood and family support research at the Center for the Improvement of Child and Family Services at PSU. Our discussion focused on the Early Works initiative, a 10-year initiative working in two Oregon communities: Yoncalla Elementary in Yoncalla which is in Douglas County and Earl Boyles Elementary in Portland in Multnomah County. The project was set up to explore and demonstrate a new approach to education and healthy development for young children and began in 2010.

Home visiting programs support young children and familiesIn this segment, I visited Ha Mi Da and her family at her apartment in Southeast Portland. Ha Mi Da came to the United States from a Burmese refugee camp several years ago and I wanted to learn more about her story, her involvement with home visiting services provided by IRCO, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, and her hopes and dreams for the future. Many thanks to Mihaela Vladescu, the family’s home visitor with IRCO and Healthy Families Oregon, and Min Sein who provided interpretation services during the visit.

Beaverton Superintendent Don GrottingDon Grotting is the superintendent of the Beaverton School District. For more than 20 years, he has led school districts in rural and urban communities across Oregon. Grotting has received several awards and accolades for his work and leadership, including 2014 Oregon Superintendent of the Year from the American Association of School Administrators. He also sits on numerous boards and advisory committees, including the Governor’s Council on Education and Oregon’s State Board of Education.

Grotting hails from the town of Coquille in southwestern Oregon where he a grew up in what he describes as extreme poverty. After three years in the military and more than a decade working in a sawmill in his hometown, Grotting enrolled in college in his mid-30s. Soon after, he took a job teaching elementary school in Powers, Oregon. Two years later he was invited to apply for the superintendent’s job for the small district. Since then, Grotting has served as superintendent in Nyssa and David Douglas school districts, experiences that have helped him focus on the needs of children before they enter the K-12 system.

Grotting was a key figure in the development of the Early Works initiative at Earl Boyles Elementary in Southeast Portland. Started in collaboration with Children’s Institute during Grotting’s first year as David Douglas School District superintendent in 2010, Early Works is a model for early learning and healthy development for children birth to five in an elementary school setting. At Earl Boyles, early learning programs, infant and toddler groups, parent engagement activities, and preschool support young children’s love of learning and prepares them for success when they enter kindergarten. After securing a voter-approved construction bond in 2012, Grotting prioritized construction of the Early Learning Wing and Neighborhood Center at Earl Boyles in 2014.

In this interview, Grotting reflects on his career, the importance of early learning, his goals for the Beaverton School District, and more.

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