Meet our Faculty & Staff

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Meet the CDL Faculty & Staff

Faculty Role in the CDL

Faculty in the CDL have a unique and challenging role. Within each classroom there are always at least two levels of learners; college students and young children. CDL faculty must work to scaffold the learning of each individual. Staffing of faculty in the classroom has been planned with this in mind. Each classroom contains a Master Teacher, a Bachelor-level Head Teacher and a graduate assistant who work together to meet the diverse needs of the classroom.

The role of the Master Teacher is to plan and implement effective and appropriate learning experiences for the college students enrolled in CYAF 497A. These experiences include classroom teaching experiences, reflection activities, documentation work and the like. The Master Teacher also ensures that experiences appropriate for other students assigned to the classroom (CYAF 270, 374, 385, etc.) are met. Experiences for these students are planned by the course instructor but carried out in the classroom. The Master Teacher will work with the Head Teacher and graduate assistant to determine effective ways to provide these students appropriate feedback and coaching in order to meet course goals. Although the Master Teacher is primary responsible for college students, the master Teacher, Head Teacher and graduate assistant will work together to ensure the overall safety, function and smooth operation of the classroom.

The role of the Head Teacher is primarily to ensure smooth operation of the classroom and guarantee the needs of the children are effectively met. The Head Teacher also serves as model for college students by planning, implementing and evaluating activities/experiences for children, developing PACT (Parents and Children Together) events, developing groupings for children, approving newsletter and other methods of parent –school communication and the like. The Head Teacher also provides on-the-spot coaching for students when appropriate.

The Teaching Assistant assists the Head Teacher by fulfilling the Head Teacher role when the Head Teacher is not available. The graduate assistant will have regularly scheduled classroom hours and may have other duties as negotiated by the Master and Head teachers.

Jennifer Leeper Miller, M.S.Child Development faculty in the Child, Youth, and Family Studies Department, Master Teacher, Director at Ruth Staples Child Development Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2004-Present.

As an early childhood educator and Master Teacher at the Ruth Staples Child Development Laboratory, I have had the privilege over the past 11 years to establish an early childhood education environment based in the context of relationships.

The relationships have been established among children, families, coworkers, student teachers, materials, and the environment. A foundation to my classroom environment has been supported by using natural environmental surroundings as a path to connect children and families to learning encounters. As a master teacher in the classroom, I encourage pre-service teachers to identify moments and wonders in nature as a tool to meet curriculum standards.

One unique way I have encouraged children to connect to their natural world is by inviting children to take naps outside and have implemented outside nap times on several warm Nebraska afternoons. I have studied and observed in both Reggio Emilia, Italy and Beijing, China and was inspired by two different cultural views of Early Childhood Education. In spring of 2014, I was awarded the Terri Lynne Lokof/Children’s Tylenol National Child Care Teacher Award. I enjoy family time outside fishing, walking, exploring with my husband and three children, Leo 5, Ruby 4, and Dexter 1.

I am also the Director of the lab school. I focus on meeting the needs of our families, children, students, and staff. As the director of the lab school I maintain all required records for Nebraska licensing and NAEYC accreditation. It is a goal of mine to continue to build public relations and create professional opportunities for the staff members and students to disseminate action research taking place in our daily lives in the classroom.

Mollie von Kampen

I have been at Ruth Staples in one role or another for quite a while. I did my undergraduate work at the lab and was also a graduate assistant here as well. My undergraduate degree is in Inclusive early childhood education and my master’s degree is in child development and early childhood education. Both are from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I have taught preschool and toddlers for about five years both here in Nebraska and also in Kansas. I have also worked as a master teacher at Educare of Lincoln.

I am originally from Seward Nebraska, so Lincoln as always felt like home to me. I met my wonderfully talented husband, David, when we were in high school and we were married 6 years later. We added our beautiful, spunky daughter, Gretta, to our family on September 3rd, 2013. In our spare time we love spending time with friends and family and cheering on the Detroit Tigers. We also have a fun, rambunctious dog, Luna who constantly makes us laugh.

I feel so blessed to be a part of children’s learning here at the lab. Spending time in the outdoor classroom is my favorite part of our day. Watching the children explore and connect with nature is such an extraordinary experience. Every day is new and exciting when we head outdoors and I love going on that journey with them.

Erin E. Hamel, M.Ed

Erin is a lecturer and master teacher at the Ruth Staples Child Development Laboratory at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she supervises early childhood student teachers and practicum students. Her work centers on providing pre-service teachers with strategies for teaching in inclusive early childhood settings with an emphasis on following children’s interests and documenting their discoveries. Erin brings over a decade of teaching to the classroom including experience teaching abroad, in elementary schools and as a special education teacher. The lab school’s emphasis on nature education and outdoor experiences are well aligned with her own personal beliefs as she and her husband, Marty, spend many hours outdoors with their two young daughters, Amelia and June.

Eric Unrau

Eric Unrau

I was born in Freeman South Dakota where I was a preacher’s kid. We moved to Lincoln when I was five years old because Dad’s hearing was deteriorating and he felt he could no longer serve his congregation. I am married to Holly and we have two children, Nicholas who is thirteen and goes to Lux Middle School and Taytum is nine and she goes to Morley Elementary. My ninety three year old father lives with us also. I have an older brother who lives in Lajen, Italy with his wife Waltraud, he teaches High School there. They spend their free time in the exploring dolomite mountains where they live.

I love doing anything in the great outdoors; traveling, mountain biking, camping, climbing, backpacking, skiing, (you get the idea) with my family and listening to music both recorded and live.