Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thankfully Filling Another Mother's Shoes

Read the published version of Library Director Charlotte Canelli's column in the July 5, 2013 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

I’d like to believe that my great days always outnumber the bad.  I’m far from a Pollyanna who sees the world through the rosiest of glasses, but I like to think I am a positivist.  Once in a while, I tumble out of the wrong side of the bed but I’m ordinarily thankful I have a comfy one to slumber in. Every so often I have a bee in my bonnet about my husband’s quirks or kick up a fuss about one of my lovely daughter's latest antics but every day I am more than grateful to have them in my life.

I’ve recognized over the years that it matters to be thankful each and every day.  In the Thanksgiving season, it’s something we habitually ponder and express.  Other holiday seasons we tend to remember to count our blessings, too.

 And so, although we celebrated Mother’s Day nearly two months ago, there is one mom I need to remember to thank each and every day of the year.

That mother is my husband’s first wife who passed away over seven years ago this past June.  Besides her husband, Jeanne Canelli left behind a son, a daughter and a young grandson. Jeanne and Gerry had already tragically lost their youngest daughter, Jennifer in 2004. Jen left a young son, Colin who had just turned six years old. Colin lives with his grandfather, Gerry, and me in Norwood. Colin is now a tall, articulate and handsome soon-to-be high school sophomore.

If you’ve followed all the sorrow I’ve written about above, it’s also important to understand the blessings that often come from life’s saddest episodes. While Jeanne’s family and a host of friends and colleagues miss her every day, I like to believe that I have filled some of that big void for the family she left behind.
 I have been immensely proud and supportive of the recent achievements of Jeanne Canelli’s children. Gerry Jr. received his master’s degree in computer programming from Brandeis University in May 2011 and Jill, earned her master’s degree in early childhood education from Framingham State University in May in 2013. Jeanne’s colleagues at FSU were especially moved to know that her daughter is not only following in her footsteps but that Jill chose Framingham State as the place to continue her education. Jill continues to work as a director of a cooperative preschool with a mission to educate young children, just like her mentor and mother, Dr. Canelli.

While Jeanne's passion was the importance of education for the very young, she began her professional life as an elementary school teacher in 1971.  Educated at Emmanuel and Wheelock colleges, she continued her graduate studies at Lesley University, earning her PhD while working full-time and raising her children with her husband, Gerry. 

Jeanne was a teacher and professor extraordinaire at Framingham State University (then College) until she passed away of cancer in 2006. The early childhood center at Framingham State was dedicated shortly after her death and was named the Jeanne M. Canelli Child Development Lab. While Dr. Canelli did not create the early childhood center at FSU in 1962, she is credited with its national accreditation under her leadership in 1991.  In fact, all programs in the lab are full licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care, a Massachusetts agency and the Academy for Early Childhood Program Education, a division of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  Dr. Canelli maintained that accreditation throughout the years she was the director and it remains so.  The lab recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with her family in attendance at the ceremony. I was honored to attend, as well. A new logo was revealed and the lab is moving into larger and newer space within the next year.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children was founded between 1926 and 1929 in Washington, DC.  Today it is an organization with nearly 80,000 members. It boasts an institute for Early Childhood Professional Development and an annual conference held each year.  In 1985, NAEYC established its accreditation system.  It is a voluntary program that sets professional standards for early childhood programs. There are more than 7,000 such programs educating children in preschools across the United States.

The organization publishes a journal, Young Children (1964 – current) and Early Childhood Research Quarterly (1986 – current) available through the colleges in the Minuteman Library System. Teaching Young Children, another publication available to NAEYC members, has articles available online.
There are many educational journals available through Educator’s Reference Complete or Expanded Academic, two of the Infotrac databases available through libraries in Massachusetts like Early Childhood Education Journal, Early Childhood Research and Practice and Early Childhood Today.

Over 100 books and DVDs of the NAEYC publications are available through Minuteman libraries.  Basics of Developmentally Appropriate Practice: An Introduction for Teachers of Children 3 to 6 by Carol Copple and From Parents to Partners: Building a Family-Centered Early Childhood Program by Janis Keyser are two examples of NAEYC books. Developmentally-Appropriate Practice and Facing the Challenge Working with Children Who Use Challenging Behaviors are two of NAEYC DVDs available in Minuteman libraries.
There are thousands of other books and resources dealing with early childhood education in the 43 libraries in the Minuteman system.  They can help families, college students and educators who work with children learn the most effective practices.  Public libraries are a terrific resource for DVDs, books and music for young children.

I will be forever thankful to the woman who raised the magnificent children who today call me their “bonus mom” and to her grandson who I love with all my heart. If Jeanne Canelli is looking down today, I’d like to think she is proud of all of us.

If you’d like help finding any books on early childhood education or development in the Minuteman Library Network, call or visit the library. You may also call 781-769-0200 and speak to a librarian who will place the request for you.