Haring Center

The University of Washington Haring Center for Inclusive Education provides early childhood education to children with and without disabilities, conducts leading-edge research to advance inclusive learning, and trains education professionals in proven practices to develop every child’s potential. The essential support of our generous donors creates inclusive communities that empower all children to learn, play and grow together.

It is a pivotal time for advancing new discoveries in early learning and we are working to chart a course for the future. Together, we will ensure that children with disabilities receive the best foundation for a lifetime of learning and infinite possibilities. Together, we will build a boundless future. For children, for Washington, for the world.

  • Recent News

    • Teacher and student working together at a table

      The UW Haring Center for Inclusive Education, in partnership with Cultivate Learning, achieved a significant increase in participation for Early Achievers internship opportunities this school year despite challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2020-21 school year, the total number of registrants for the Early Achievers Individualized Internships was 134. Just this fall, there was a total of 173 registrants, surpassing the total number of registrants from last school year, and more are expected to participate this winter and spring. With increased access due to online flexibility, as well as course availability in Spanish, more professionals are participating in the Early Achievers internships than ever before. “We are excited to offer increased support for coaches and teachers across the state of Washington!” said Julie Lockhart, partner manager for the Haring Center. “Expulsion of students with challenging behaviors is a significant issue in early childhood education and our hope is that through equipping coaches and teachers with tools to support all learners in their classrooms, we can make a real difference in the lives of preschool children.” The Early Achievers internship opportunities began in the fall of 2014 through a collaboration between the UW Haring Center, UW’s Cultivate Learning and the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF, previously named the Washington Department of Early Learning) with the goal of universal kindergarten readiness in Washington state. Early Achievers aims to improve the quality of Washington’s early learning and care programs by instituting a statewide quality recognition and improvement system (QRIS) and provides a variety of supports to teachers and providers, including professional development, coaching, internships, scholarships and resources to support each child’s learning and development. Since the QRIS inception in 2010, Cultivate Learning has been an implementation partner with Washington state holding several roles within the system that involve data collection to inform program quality ratings and coaching, creation of professional development opportunities to support early learning best practices, community engaged research and evaluation and training and consultation to Washington coaches. The main source of support to early learning and care staff through Early Achievers is ongoing coaching, with Early Achievers coaches going out in the field and working directly with teachers and providers on the use of best practices in early learning. To support this coaching, the Haring Center provides Early Achievers Individualization Internships for working with children with disabilities. These Individualization Internships are now offered virtually in both English and Spanish to Early Achievers coaches and classroom teachers and include half-day internships and mini extensions. Half-day internships are two half-day remote internships that focus on deepening knowledge in several areas related to individualizing instruction, anti-bias education, supporting social-emotional learning and addressing challenging behavior for young children with disabilities and those who learn and behave differently. “This training was excellent,” said a coach who participated in the half-day internship. “I loved the format: PowerPoint, objectives, and then viewing videos. Very practical, real-world examples.” Mini extensions are one-hour sessions, offered twice monthly, that build on knowledge learned during the internships and provide an opportunity for coaches to come together to discuss challenges they are experiencing and receive ongoing support from the Haring Center team. The mini extensions also focus on a variety of topics including social-emotional learning, trauma informed care, parent and family partnerships, inclusive large groups, anti-bias education, positive behavior support and strategies to support multi-lingual learners and children with autism spectrum disorder. These mini extensions are also responsive to the needs of coaches and teachers, so other topics are covered as requested. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Cultivate Learning has worked as a critical partner to re-envision Early Achievers into a virtual system and transitioned the QRIS to a quality recognition and improvement system. In this revised system, programs upload videos and other documentation of practice that provides data to support quality improvement and coaching. Like the Haring Center’s trainings, these supports have moved to a virtual modality which includes training, coaching, and annual institutes, all of which have seen increased attendance and participation. “The unique partnership between Cultivate Learning and the Haring Center was developed with an intentional focus on both Early Achievers coaches and classroom educators to access information from experts on supporting inclusive learning environments,” said Juliet Taylor, deputy director for Cultivate Learning. This September, the Haring Center also provided mini-Back to School professional development sessions to support coaches as they collaborated with teachers to welcome back learners and families in classrooms and programs this year. Training topics included managing the classroom, supporting and preventing challenging behavior, zoning to maximize learning and creating an inclusive community through family partnerships. This series was also available to Early Achievers coaches and teachers in both English and Spanish. Thank you to the Haring Center and Cultivate Learning staff who provide training, coaching and consultation for Early Achievers coaches and teachers and to our partners at DCYF who continue to make Early Achievers possible. By making this important program more accessible, more professionals can participate and make real, tangible change in inclusive early education practices in Washington state and beyond.

    • Sunlight streams through a tree's branches in summer.

      “I am always looking to continue my learning around the idea of inclusion — trying to define what that looks like and how I can be a part of fostering that in my school community,” says Andrea Bergan, a family support worker at John Rogers Elementary in Northeast Seattle. Bergan was among more than 175 educators from across Washington state who attended the 2021 Summer Inclusion Institute held on June 22-24 and organized by the UW Haring Center for Inclusive Education. Delivered virtually, this free interactive conference brought educator teams together to discuss, demonstrate and dive into practices for creating inclusive and equitable communities as schools begin to reopen this fall. Mornings were spent in conference sessions led by specialists from the Haring Center while afternoons were reserved for guided planning time — where teams had the opportunity to develop action plans, review resources and create systems to support equitable and inclusive work. Funds from a grant supporting an Inclusionary Practices Project spearheaded by Haring Center Project Director Cassie Martin allowed the center to provide free admission to the summer institute as well as a toolkit that was sent to all participants. Included in the toolkit were three books: Leading Equity-Based MTSS for All Students by Amy McCart and Dawn Miller; Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning by Andratesha Fitzgerald; and Flexible and Focused: Teaching Executive Functioning Skills to Individuals with Autism and Attention Disorders by Adel Najdowski. “With support from the OSPI, we were able to gather educators from across the state who were interested in learning more about how to welcome their students back to schools by implementing equity-based inclusive practices,” says Dr. Ilene Schwartz, faculty director of the Haring Center. “Every activity — from our motivational keynote opening to the story slam at the end — provided educators with opportunities to learn about evidence-based instructional practices and strategies to build school communities that welcome and support all students, families and staff.” “I’ve been making my way through the books from the toolkit, and I hope to use them to spur discussion with my colleagues,” shares Bergan. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and receive these materials.” A new approach to participation Bergan attended the institute with two of her colleagues from John Rogers — a practice encouraged by the Haring Center. “We wanted to focus on the importance of teaming and collaboration within inclusive and equitable practices and protect time for teams to develop plans based on conference sessions. Inviting school teams to attend, including general and special education teachers, social workers, administrators, and district leaders and creating space for planning will help schools and districts implement these practices,” says Dr. Ariane Gauvreau, senior director for Professional Development and Training at the Haring Center. “It takes participation from as many people as possible at all levels of teaching and administration to effect change.” Undeterred by pandemic conditions, Haring Center staff embraced the opportunity to reach more people through a virtual institute. “Teams and teachers that may not been able to attend an in-person conference at the Haring Center due to cost and travel were able to participate — and that’s a silver lining that has enabled us to connect with more educators across the state,” says Dr. Gauvreau. “We are honored that so many teachers started their summer breaks with us.” In coming years, the summer institute may continue to be offered virtually because of this ability to reach a wider audience and encourage participation from across the state. Connecting with educator teams from different districts — and being able to share experiences and co-develop best practices — was invaluable for participants like Bergan, who strives to meet students and families where they are. Through her work at John Rogers, Bergan supports student success by advocating for family engagement in schools. Intentionally seeking student and parent input is just one way that she does this. Bergan engages families through home visits and community events, and the coordinated care that she provides ranges from one-on-one academic support to social emotional wellness and support around attendance. She also connects students and families with school district and community resources that address basic needs such as food, clothing and financial assistance as well as culturally appropriate resources. This kind of holistic, coordinated care — an approach that addresses the whole student — is intended to counter systemic barriers that adversely impact students. Indeed, the Family Support Team at John Rogers centers the work of SPS’s Seattle Excellence and Black Excellence initiatives that focus on African American boys and other students furthest from educational justice. These initiatives emphasize that this work isn’t about changing students but rather about changing broken systems in public education. This work begins by listening to families. “I have a unique role in the school which is not driven by straight data, numbers or formulas,” explains Bergan. “Instead, it’s about building relationships, listening and trying to understand. The importance of storytelling and really listening to others’ stories is the only way we can foster inclusion and build community.” “Unfortunately, this isn’t how our education system is set up so it can be very difficult to keep that focus and to encourage that focus in the day-to-day school setting,” she adds. Storytelling as advocacy As a powerful storyteller and parent advocate active in the special needs community, Bethany Moffi was the perfect choice to keynote and close the institute. A fortuitous meeting between Moffi and Haring Center Director of Applied Research Kathleen Meeker at the 2019 Division for Early Childhood Conference clenched it. There, Dr. Meeker heard Moffi speak about her journey as a parent and what it means to dream big with families, and recommended her for any speaking events at the Haring Center. “Bethany’s expertise is storytelling, and she uses that superpower in service of advocacy,” says Dr. Schwartz. “Her keynote at our summer institute inspired attendees to think deeply about the stories we’re telling as we strive to change harmful

    • The UW College of Education (CoE) 2020 graduating class entered the teaching workforce during a tumultuous time. “As a first-year teacher, you’re learning the job, but you’re learning a different job,” says Lik Qi Lim, who received her Master of Early Childhood Special Education from CoE last May. Em Dandridge, who also graduated with a Master of Early Childhood Special Education during the pandemic, explains the newly minted educators were starting jobs that looked like nothing anyone knew. Dandridge started as a special educator in early intervention at Kindering, a comprehensive neurodevelopmental center providing services to children from birth to age three in King County, in March 2020. In this role, they build foundational language and play skills with children and coach parents to support their children. Until a recent transition to a hybrid model, Dandrige’s work has been exclusively remote. “Three days a week we do an interactive virtual circle-time class,” says Dandridge. “I use virtual backgrounds and will put myself literally inside of a book to point to things, and play with Zoom features to make myself bigger or smaller. We also do movement-based activities like yoga classes, as we all know no kid has gotten enough movement in the past year.” Lim also started the school year remotely but moved to a hybrid model after about a month. Lim is a preschool head teacher at the EEU, educating children aged three to five, and explains there have been a variety of challenges this year. “I had to get to know the kids, my team and the families all online. Some kids struggle with online learning, so we were supporting parents through that,” says Lim. “Getting to know the kids through their homes was a hard start, but also really interesting because we got to learn a lot more about their home life.” “Then we came back in-person with a hybrid model,” Lim continues. “We had to set up our classroom with COVID regulations — there were materials that couldn’t be used. Play looked different, large group looked different, everything looked different.” Lim explains that establishing a routine for the children has also been challenging. Some of her children learn in-person twice a week on back-to-back days. She says often they will work hard on something and a child might show progress by the second day, but after five days away from physical school, it can feel like starting over each next week. For Dandridge, the differences of the online model can be more nuanced. “In some ways it’s the same — you’re reading the Zoom room to figure out which kids are tuned in and which kids aren’t. You’d be doing the same thing in a physical classroom, it just looks a little different,” they explain. Both Lim and Dandridge remark their time at CoE helped them succeed in this tough first year on the job. “I started at the EEU in 2018 as a practicum student and graduate staff assistant,” says Lim. “I could draw back from my practicum experiences and knowing the community has helped me feel supported this year.” Dandridge cites the cohort model as fostering a strong bond among the graduating students. “Getting through the tail-end of our program in a pandemic together really solidified that bond,” they explain. “The sense of teaming is emphasized heavily in our program and has carried on as we’ve continued to support each other through a challenging first year of teaching.” The cohort’s collaboration continues formally for Dandridge too. In addition to conducting family sessions, working with children and collaborating with other providers, Dandridge works on Kindering’s equity team. They join another special educator from their graduating cohort to present staff trainings around concepts like neurodiversity and the intersections of gender identity and various neurotypes. Lim and Dandridge agree being a first-year teacher during the pandemic has also come with some silver linings. “I’ve had so many extra support factors, because everyone is just an easy message away,” says Dandridge. “We’re as distant as ever, but we’re also closer than ever before because we reach out to each other to try to make those connections.” Lim says the different relationship with families has been valuable. “In a typical year, you could easily chat with families during drop-off or pick-up in the classroom,” she explains. “Trying to establish the bond with families at the start was definitely harder, especially remotely, but the silver lining to it is that you get to know more of what is going on behind the scenes at home and build stronger relationships with them.” Lim also says she is able to create more of her own lessons with the online and hybrid models. The day-to-day of next year still holds plenty of unknown for educators like Lim and Dandridge. Lim will continue as a preschool head teacher at the EEU, and expresses a longer-term goal of increasing access to inclusive early childhood education worldwide. “I wish there could be a community and school and place like the EEU all over the world, that anyone can access, and where everyone is included regardless of who they are,” she says. Similarly, Dandridge hopes to work in education policy in the future, to make publicly-funded education accessible and inclusive for younger ages, but plans to continue to grow in their current role. “This is a role where you never stop learning,” they say. “That’s one of the beautiful things about working in education, especially with kids this young. Every kid is so unique.” Despite the tough circumstances for their first year, Dandridge and Lim say they love their jobs. “You can still see the community being built. Under those masks, the kids are still enjoying school — they love their friends, they love the place they come to, they have so much fun playing and building a community,” says Lim. “Even though some days it’s so intense, at the end of the day the kids go home and have a big smile on their face.