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Meet our Team

Lisa and John McNichol Early Childhood Education Lab

Michael J. Haslip - Drexel University Assistant Professor for MS in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum: Advanced Studies

Michael Haslip, PhD Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education and Lab Director

Dr. Michael Haslip has been an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Drexel University since 2015. His research interests include investigating the sustainability of Pre-K outcomes; building frameworks of support for preschool social-emotional learning; creating nurturing classroom climates and promoting altruism-sustainability linkages in education.

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Traci Childress EdD student Drexel University School of Education

Traci Childress, MA, MEd, EdD Student and Graduate Research Assistant

Traci Childress, MA, MEd, is a student in Drexel University’s Ed.D program in Educational Leadership & Management. She is Executive Director of Saint Mary’s Nursery School in Philadelphia. She is co-founder of the Children’s Community School, was a cofounder of the Yoga Service Council, and is co-editor of the book Best Practices for Yoga in Schools. In her work, she seeks to develop processes for community reflection, inquiry, and empowerment that support positive growth for school communities. In her doctorate studies, she is exploring localized early learning leadership models and their impact on equitable and responsive learning environments for young children.

Sinead Meehan Drexel University School of Education

Sinead Meehan, PhD Student and Graduate Research Assistant

Sinead Meehan is a PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant in the School of Education at Drexel University. Her research interests include reconceptualizing K-12 science and engineering teacher preparation and professional development through a social justice and equity lens.



Erica Martinez School of Education

Erica Martinez, Undergraduate Student and Undergraduate Research Assistant

Erica Martinez is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Lisa and John McNichol Early Childhood Education Lab. She is pursuing her B.S. degree in Elementary Education, with a focus on Special Education. Erica’s research interests include social-emotional learning, interventions for children with special needs, and child development. When she is not studying, Erica loves to spend time with her very supportive family and participate in her church. Erica is also a member of The 4EverSister’s, a musical band she performs in with her sisters.

Amanda Clark, Assistant Professor of Education, Drexel School of Education

Amanda Clark, Assistant Professor of Education

Dr. Amanda Clark has been an Assistant Professor of Education at Central College in Pella, Iowa, since 2017. Amanda is the co-author of the book Implementing Project Based Learning in Early Childhood: Overcoming Misconceptions and Reaching Success (July 2020). Her primary research interest is project based learning, specifically early childhood project based learning and the moves teachers make when facilitating project units.

Sarah Taylor-Whiteway Drexel School of Education

Sarah Taylor-Whiteway, DEdPsy, Educational and Child Psychologist

Dr. Sarah Taylor-Whiteway works as an Educational and Child Psychologist in London, UK. Her research interests include whole school approaches to supporting social and emotional development, well-being in young people with autism and using supervision in education. She produces The Emotional Curriculum podcast, exploring how to translate research about SEL into practice, and sits on the committee for the Division of Educational and Child Psychology in the British Psychological Society.

Sarah Kuser Drexel University School of Education

Sarah Kuser, Director of Children's Early Learning Services and Programs at a nonprofit organization

Sarah Kuser is the Director of Children's Early Learning Services and Programs at a nonprofit organization. She is passionate and dedicated to early childhood and early intervention. Her research interests include increasing play skills and inclusion opportunities, and cultivating a classroom setting to support equitable, diverse, and inclusive opportunities.

Jennifer Furness Drexel University School of Education

Jennifer Furness, EdD, Early Intervention Technical Assistance Consultant at PaTTAN and Adjunct Professor

Dr. Jennifer Furness has been an educator for fourteen years with a primary focus in early intervention. Prior to becoming an Early Intervention Technical Assistance Consultant at PaTTAN, Dr. Furness served early intervention students within the Berks County Intermediate Unit as an itinerant teacher, classroom teacher, specialized coordinator, and as an assistant program administrator. She was also a program supervisor for early intervention at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit and an adjunct instructor at Montgomery County Community College, teaching coursework in special education. Dr. Furness continued to follow her passion for increasing staff morale within special educators by graduating with her doctoral degree from Drexel University in May of 2020, and now has the privilege of being an adjunct professor for the Drexel University School of Education.

Monica Blaisdell - PhD Student and Graduate Research Assistant

Monica Blaisdell, PhD Student and Graduate Research Assistant

Monica Blaisdell is a PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant in Drexel University’s School of Education. Her research interests include civic and citizenship education, with a particular focus on education for sustainable development. She is interested in exploring how citizenship is defined and instructed in educational spaces, with the aim of identifying citizenship education models that will empower students to engage in their local, global, and digital communities.

Rebecca Romeis-Markham, Drexel University School of Education

Rebecca Romeis-Markham, EdD, Early Childhood Curriculum Specialist

Beki Romeis-Markham earned her doctorate at Florida State University. She has been working in the early childhood field since 2007, and currently serves as a Curriculum Specialist for a non-profit organization. She is passionate about achieving equity in the early childhood field. Her projects include planning and teaching professional development workshops and classes, creating policy at the organizational level, attaining and maintaining NAEYC accreditation, and conducting research for the organization. Beki’s research interests include access for infants and toddlers to early childhood education, interactions with young children, and helping early childhood professionals develop their practice.

Neisha Young PhD in Education student

Neisha Young, PhD Student and Former Graduate Research Assistant

Neisha Young is a PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant in Drexel University’s School of Education. Her research interests center around issues of educational equity, with a focus on influencing policy and curriculum in order to improve the experiences of immigrant teachers and students in the classroom. She is interested in exploring ways in which cultural competency can be promoted and leveraged, thereby positively influencing teacher and student outcomes at all levels of the K-12 system. She operates in an Administrative Assistant capacity in the Lisa and John McNichols Early Childhood Lab.

Krissy Gutowski - Drexel University School of Education

Krissy Gutowski, MEd, Special Education

Krissy Gutowski is a kindergarten teacher in the North Penn School District of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Temple University with her B.S. in Early Childhood Education and her M.Ed. in Special Education. Krissy is also a 200 HR certified yoga instructor and has been teaching yoga for seven years. She is very passionate about bringing yoga and mindfulness into the classroom in order to support students’ social and emotional well-being. She advises the lab as a practitioner partner to develop new pedagogy.

Sera Anello, BS in Early Childhood Education, Drexel University

Sera Anello, BS in Early Childhood Education, Teacher and Lab Practitioner Partner

Sera Anello is a fourth grade teacher for the School District of Philadelphia. She graduated from Temple University with her B.S. in Early Childhood Education with a Program Specialist Certificate in English as a Second Language. She is currently working toward her M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Social Emotional Learning. Sera is also a 200 HR certified yoga instructor and has been teaching yoga for five years. She is interested in aligning her yoga and mindfulness training with classroom instruction to promote student well-being. She contributes to lab projects as a practitioner partner in the development and assessment of new pedagogy.


Alene O’Malley, PhD Student and Graduate Research Assistant

Alene O’Malley is from Co. Limerick, Ireland. She holds a Bachelors of Education and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership and Management from University of Limerick, Ireland. She taught at the primary (elementary) level in Ireland for over 10 years. In 2019, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach Gaelic at Villanova University. She then started the PhD program in Drexel’s School of Education in the Fall of 2021. Her doctoral research interests lie in human resource development and mentoring practices as a means to motivate and retain teachers in the profession at every stage in their career.

Julie Muehlenkamp

Julie Muehlenkamp, Health and Wellness Coordinator and Lab Practitioner Partner

Julie works as the Health and Wellness Coordinator with Covington Partners, the non-profit arm of the Covington Independent Public School District, in Covington, Kentucky. As a part of her work in the field of wellness, Julie has led a pilot project to implement strength-based goal setting with students participating in out of school time. Julie is currently a student and Graduate Research Assistant at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and will be earning a Master’s in Public Administration in the Fall of 2022. Most recently, her team at NKU published research on best practices for supporting Black college students’ wellbeing through advising by exploring equitable access. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, gardening, and volunteering as a foster home for rescue dogs.

Christopher Beissel

Christopher Beissel, Ed.D., Principal and Lab Practitioner Partner

Christopher Beissel, Ed.D., is the principal at Hamburg Area High School in Hamburg, PA.  Dr. Beissel is a member of the Lisa and John McNichol Early Childhood Education Lab at Drexel University, and is an advocate for integration of social-emotional competencies and holistic development in classrooms and within the school community. Dr. Beissel received his Doctor of Education from Drexel University in 2021.  His dissertation, titled The High School Teacher Mindset: A Mixed Methods Study, drew from both SEL and mindset literature to create a new construct called the “SEL Mindset”, as well as presented a new instrument to measure teachers’ SEL Mindset that was specifically designed for the study.  Dr. Beissel’s study included nearly 200 high school teachers from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Beissel enjoys spending time with his wife, Katie, and his daughter, Harper.


Christian Holland, MBA, MDIV, Senior Director of Out of School Time and Youth Programming

Born and raised in Chicago, Christian Holland received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Wesleyan University. His degree focused on Cultural and Organizational Psychology. In addition to his 20+ years of experience, Christian serves on various health/educational boards throughout the City of Philadelphia. In 2002, he received his Masters of Divinity with a focus in administration, counseling, and education from Claremont School of Theology.

As senior director of Out of School Time and Youth Programming, Christian provides strategic oversight and expansion for multiple sites/contracts in Philadelphia and Delaware County, which provide quality educational extended learning opportunities for youth and families. As an extension of his current role at ECS, Christian serves as the Vice- Chair of the Pennsylvania Department of Education 21st CCLC Advisory Board and will accept the role of Chairman in the beginning of FY23 for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Christian has also served in the role of Director and Behavioral Specialist in Afterschool/OST programs with Temple University and outstanding nationwide youth programs like Education Sports Fun Camps held at Girard College, Moorestown, Lawrenceville, NJ, and Greenwich, CT.

Christian finished his MBA program graduating with a 4.0 GPA and honors from Benedictine University and has received Certification from the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn Mawr College. Christian also gives back to the community by serving as the Executive Director and Chairman of Oasis Prayer & Recovery Centers and Ministries, a newly founded non-profit and ministry in Philadelphia, which focuses on community outreach, service, spiritual coaching and inner healing.

On a more global front - Christian is a team member, International Volunteer Team Lead Endorser and Commissioner of the Council of Accreditation (COA). With COA, he sits on numerous strategic and operations advisory boards that impact thousands of youth and families worldwide.

Noah Harrington

Noah Harrington, BSBA, Sustainability Education Research Assistant

Noah Harrington is a sustainability education coach and research assistant who accompanies teachers as they learn to integrate altruism and sustainability as learning objectives into early childhood education programs and beyond. He has a BSBA from the University of Vermont with an interdisciplinary theme in sustainability, a concentration in finance, and a minor in community and international development. In the lab, he is a member of the Teaching for Sustainability and Altruism through Project-Based Learning (SAPBL) team which offers an online course for teachers worldwide.  Noah's research interest lies in project-based learning, particularly questions involving sustainability which is imperative in developing a healthy and just world.

Dr Mary Libby

Dr. Mary Libby, Principal, The Chester A. Arthur School

Dr. Mary Libby is a deeply committed practitioner whose professional experience includes serving as a teacher, department and curricular lead, professional learning specialist, leadership coach, lecturer and researcher, and school/district leader. Since May of 2019, she has served as the principal of the Chester A. Arthur School in center city Philadelphia. As a student-centered, project-based learning environment where students positively impact their worlds through research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection, the Chester Arthur School is committed to equipping students with the habits, tools, and competencies necessary to achieve academic excellence and create a more just and equitable world through imaginative, innovative and engaged global citizenship.

Brandi Binakonsky

Brandi Binakonsky

Dr. Brandi Binakonsky has worked in the field of special education for over 20 years. Beginning her career as a special education teacher for school-age programs, she was able to leverage her emotional support and co-teaching experiences in order to transition to the role of an administrator/supervisor for an Early Intervention preschool program for 13 years. Within this role, Dr. Binakonsky was able to focus on building partnerships and collaborative relationships with school districts and community early childhood partners. She is currently working as an Early Intervention Technical Assistance Consultant. In addition to receiving her doctorate in education through the California University of PA where her research focused on professional development relative to the needs of staff who provide preschool Early Intervention services. Dr. Binakonsky also holds a Superintendent Letter of Eligibility from California University of PA and a Supervisor of Special Education certificate from the University of Pittsburgh to augment her undergraduate and graduate degrees in special education. Her passion includes empowering all levels of leadership through high-quality professional development to positively impact inclusive experiences for all children and families.

Angela Anderson

Angela Anderson

Angela Anderson has a passion for integrating Human Services and Early Learning Education. She has an Associate Degree in Psychology, a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services and a Master's Degree in Cross Disciplinary Studies with a concentration in Preschool Education. Angela started her early learning career as an assistant teacher in her son's preschool classroom in 2003. In 2004 she became a VPK teacher in a Fort Myers faith-based program. As time progressed as a servant leader in the early childhood education field, she worked in many different administrative roles assisting ECE programs, directors and ECE teachers in many different capacities to ensure ECE programs had what they needed to adhere to quality best practices. In addition to her full-time position as the Director of Curriculum and Professional Development for Guadalupe Center’s four ECE centers in Immokalee Florida, Angela also is an Adjunct Instructor for Rasmussen College and a trainer for the Department of Children and Families.

Stephanie Simon M.Ed.

Stephanie L. Simon M.Ed

Stephanie L. Simon is an Early Childhood Educator with over 30 years in the field. During this time Stephanie has served as a Teacher, Director, Program Coordinator, Programs Director, Professional Development Facilitator, CDA Instructor, Provider Services Manager with CCIS and a Preschool Specialist working in collaboration with the PA-Key and PA’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning. Stephanie is currently an Early Learning Specialist with First Up, providing coaching and mentoring to support SEL with ECE Providers.

Stephanie holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from West Chester University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education/ Elementary Education from Temple University.

Dr. Lin Chu Visiting Scholar

Lin Chu, PhD

Dr. Lin Chu is an associate professor and master's supervisor in the Teachers` College of Beijing Union University. He has a doctor's degree in ethnic preschool education and a master's degree in comparative education, focusing on comparative preschool education research. Dr. Lin Chu paid close attention to the research on preschool curriculum in China and the United States. He has carried out research work in three kindergartens in Hartford, Connecticut, and a Reggio kindergarten in New Haven, Connecticut, and published an academic work on cultural elements in kindergarten curriculum in combination with the practice of kindergartens in Beijing, China. At the same time, Dr. Lin Chu has published more than 30 academic papers on comparative education. Dr. Lin Chu will be working with Dr. Rebecca at Drexel University, focusing on regional and national education research, especially the research on the social emotional development of preschool children in China and the United States.

Casey Hanna

Casey Hanna

Casey Hanna is a PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant in the School of Education at Drexel University. Her research interests include civic education and engagement, community-school partnerships, and teacher education. Before starting her graduate degree, she was an archaeologist and secondary social studies teacher.

Julie Knutson

Julie Knutson

Julie Knutson (she/her/hers) is a classroom teacher and writer with a keen interest in human rights and sustainability education. She currently teaches at Springside Chestnut Hill (SCH) Academy in Philadelphia, where she infuses the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into courses that include 6th grade “Social Entrepreneurship,” 8th grade “Digital Publishing,” and 10th grade “Social Impact.” Alongside more than two dozen students, she also spearheads SCH middle school’s vibrant Eco Club.

Julie’s book Global Citizenship: Engage in the Politics of a Changing World was a 2021 Skipping Stones Multi-cultural book of the year; her The Science and Technology of Marie Curie was a finalist for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books in the Hands-on Science Book category..


Tutoring Staff

Honorary Members