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Living Stories

Nontraditional College Students in Early Childhood Education


Susan Bernheimer

In Living Stories: Nontraditional College Students in Early Childhood Education, Susan Bernheimer takes the reader into her journey with a group of nontraditional college students. Bernheimer’s struggle to find a meaningful approach to teaching the students about early childhood development and care is infused with the insights and wisdom that come from listening to, and valuing, the remarkable stories of her students’ lives. This book offers a powerful new road map for early childhood teacher preparation through a relational pedagogy that honors students’ life experiences and that leads to deep reflection and learning. The approach is embedded in students’ strengths and knowledge and is successfully inclusive of an increasingly diverse student demographic. Bernheimer provides an inclusive model of education that builds upon the strengths of all students. 

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It is often said that it “takes a village to raise a child.” This certainly was true for me as an author. It was only with the loving support of many people that I was able to write this book. At the center of this circle of support were the nontraditional students from communities of poverty who filled my college classrooms. They taught me a piece of wisdom that I will never forget, “Pay attention, open your heart, don’t give up—even in the face of seemingly impossible struggles.” Thank you for the journey we took together which revolutionized my life as an instructor.

Writing can be a lonely journey. I am deeply grateful to the many friends who have stood by me, and supported my work over the years. They have remained patient and loving, while gently urging me to “take a break from my writing.” In particular, Jacqueline Green and Betty (Elizabeth) Jones directly worked with me on this book, making sure I stayed on topic, and challenging me to create a book that would truly be worth reading. Doris Lora edited every chapter, giving me valuable feedback, always making sure it was well-written. My wonderful daughter-in-law, Jackie, designed the book cover as well as ← ix | x → formatting this book, often giving up precious time for other work and naps, while still being a great mother to Hannah (who has been busy being a 14 month old toddler).

I have had the...

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