Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education Faculty

The WSU Early Childhood Education faculty is a diverse group dedicated to the education of young children and to the preparation of their teachers. The work of the faculty has been nationally recognized.

Mark J. Larson came to WSU in 1996, and is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education and Special Education in the College of Education, Teacher Education Division. He is Coordinator of the Early Childhood Education and the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) programs and the graduate advisor for students in these areas. Mark grew up in Seattle, Washington and over the years, has worked with young children and their families in a variety of settings (childcare, infant-parent programs, preschool-early elementary teaching, Indian Head Start programs). His teaching, writing, and research are in the areas of teaching young children who have developmental delays or disabilities in natural environments or inclusive settings and family-centered practices. 

Navaz Peshotan Bhavnagri is an associate professor of Early Childhood Education at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. She has served the field of early childhood education for 47 years, of which 39 have been in higher education and the remaining working with young children. Navaz has taught at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, City University of New York, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India. She has authored thirty-nine articles and chapters. Additionally, she was an editor of twelve curriculum guides and a guest editor of theme issue in Childhood Education. Navaz's work has been cited in two hundred publications. Additionally, she has been a reviewer for various educational journals. Over the years, Navaz has received numerous awards and has been cited in Who is Who in American Education. Navaz's research grants and publications include children’s socialization by peers, parents, grandparents, and teachers; immigrant children and families; Head Start children’s socialization and use of computers.

Sharon Elliott is an Associate Professor in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. She has a long history of work in early childhood education serving as the Director of the COE Early Childhood Center and then as Assistant Dean of Teacher Education. Sharon has also worked on many grant projects directed at the increasing the numbers of highly qualified teachers from diverse backgrounds. She has served on many educational committees at the state and national levels, and is a past president of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children.

Placidia Frierson is the Director of the College of Education Early Childhood Center. She has worked at the center for several years with the responsibility of planning curriculum and program goals for children, families and student teachers. Prior to becoming director, Placidia served in the roles of assistant director and supervising teacher. She has presented at national, state and local conferences on various topics related to the education of young children and training early childhood professionals. At the university, Placidia currently teaches the seminar course for the student teaching field experience at the Early Childhood Center. She has taught courses in preschool curriculum and the graduate seminar project in which students conduct practical research in their own classrooms.

Judith Allen Kaminsky is the Editor of Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange, a quarterly periodical that focuses on the Reggio Emilia philosophy of early childhood education and has been published by Wayne State University since 1992. She is also the Coordinator of Innovations in Early Education: A Seminar Series for Early Childhood Educators, an annual professional development initiative that has been located on Wayne State campus since 1999. In addition, Judith is a founding board member and consultant for the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA), and currently serves as the NAREA Exhibit Project Coordinator and Communication Consultant.

Anna G. Miller is a lecturer and undergraduate advisor in Early Childhood Education for the College of Education. She is the Executive Director of the College of Education Early Childhood Center and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute Early Childhood Center, the two preschool programs located on Wayne State University’s campus. She has worked with young children and their families in the Detroit area for over 30 years. Anna oversees the Michigan Department of Education Great Start Readiness Program Grant and the U.S. Department of Education Child Care Means Parents in School Grant. In service to the community, she serves on several committees related to young children and provides professional development to early childhood programs.

Lena Montgomery is a member of the WSU Early Childhood Education adjunct faculty. She brings to the university over thirty years experience working in the Wayne County early childhood education and care community. Currently, Lena manages the early childhood and bilingual ESL departments for Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA). She works with parents, 34 school district staff in Wayne County, including Detroit, in their early childhood programs and bilingual services. Lena is the Early On and Project Find Coordinator for Wayne County special needs and education services. The course she teaches at the Wayne State promotes early literacy development and blends early child pedagogy with real life practice and experiences in the educational field.

Janet Windemuth is a member of the College of Education Early Childhood adjunct faculty. For more than three decades, she has worked with preschool children and their falies in the City of Detroit: as a private child care director, as a WSU parent educator, and as a supervising teacher in the COE Early Childhood Center. Janet's special interests include multidisciplinary collaboration and cross-cultural competence.