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New Faces

New faculty and staff discuss their unique perspectives and experiences.

Megan Laverty, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Education

What She'll Be Teaching: "Along with courses in philosophy and education at the master's and doctoral level, and I'm slated to teach the pro-seminar course for doctoral students in philosophy and education. We will look at Rousseau's Emil and how it relates to feminist issues in education today."

Last Job: "At Montclair State University I was Director of Graduate Programs in Philosophy for Children and the Coordinator of the Philosophy of Education Program. At the University's Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children I taught graduate students how to teach philosophy to children and how to write philosophy curriculum for children. Prior to that, I was at Trinity College in the University of Melbourne where I taught the History of Western Ideas."

Her Passion: "Philosophy and thinking about ways to show people the philosophical dimensions of their lives. Also, popularizing philosophy as well as debunking myths about it, such as the belief that it is difficult. A lot of people are intimidated by philosophy because they often encounter it for the first time at university and it seems distant from their concerns. It is a great tragedy because our lives are full of philosophical dimensions of beauty, goodness and justice. If we start teaching philosophy to children, it will become part of the consciousness of individuals as they grow older and it will become part of their landscape."

"Children who learn about philosophy also gain confidence in their own thinking and in their own mental resources. They are encouraged in what they do already, which is to problematize their experience and wonder about the different dimensions of experience. Children who learn philosophy tend to listen better to one another as well."

Erika Levy, Assistant Professor of Speech and Language Pathology

What She'll Be Teaching: "I will be teaching a class on articulation disorders focused mostly on children, and a class on perception, designed to focus on both children and adults-speech perception across the life span."

Last Job: "As a speech pathologist at United Cerebral Palsy in Manhattan specializing in Children Pediatric Speech Pathology, I was supervising a TC student. I also did research on speech perception of vowels in cross-language speech perception and production at CUNY Graduate Center.

"I also wrote Baby's First Steps in French, Italian and Spanish. It's a book and CD that surrounds a child with two languages early in life by focusing on the sounds of the languages. Those are the hardest to pick up later in life. It includes well-known songs and rhymes that provide different sounds of the language.

"The best gig I had, though, was working with the voices behind Big Bird and Elmo from Sesame Street in the creation of character dolls that talk to a child. I helped them to properly pronounce 20,000 names in native languages from around the world."

Her Passion: "Sounds across languages and what it is about your native language that gives you accent perception and production of second language. Basically how we hear a second language through the grid of the first language. This is important in speech pathology because there are bilingual speech therapists who have an accent in the language they are doing therapy in. I want to understand and determine what impact it has on the clients and what can be done to help the speech pathologists and thus the clients."

"I have been influenced by the fact that I grew up in Prague and Vienna and learned to pronounce different languages early in life. I spoke four languages fluently. My family was also in Czechoslovakia during the Soviet invasion, and I don't take free speech for granted. If I can help someone speak, it makes me happy."

Lalitha Vasudevan, Assistant Professor of Technology and Education

What She'll Be Teaching: "I will be teaching a course entitled Television and the Development of Youth and co-teaching the core seminar in communication, computing and technology."

Last Job: "I actually came to TC last year as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. Prior to that I was finishing up my Ph.D. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania."

Her Passion: "My passion combines an interest in the ways we make sense of the world, particularly the lives of youth, with a passion for new technologies.Stories are an important part of that. And I think right now is an exciting time to be able to tell new stories with the availability of and access to all kinds of technology that can be used to engage young people in research being done about their lives in ways that we couldn't do before.For example, by using photography and multimedia stories as data, teachers and researchers gain new insights into understanding and working with young people."

"For me, the research and teaching spill into each other. What I've tried to do in my teaching has echoed my passion for using multiple forms of representationby encouraging students to explore new ways of learning through both traditional and new media and technology."

Helen Verdeli, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education

What She'll Be Teaching: "I'm teaching techniques in cognitive behavioral and interpersonal psychotherapy, and leading a practicum in child therapy. The focus will be on empirically based treatments, specifically cognitive behavior and interpersonal psychotherapy with adults and children."

Last Job: "I have been working at Columbia Presbyterian Psychiatric Institute where I have been doing two things. I was clinical coordinator of interviewing for the Department of Clinical and Genetic Epidemiology and I coordinated psychotherapy research by offering consultation to anybody at Columbia and outside institutions developing projects involving testing psychotherapy for children and adolescents. In that role, I was consulting with investigators on their design, manual development, writing up the results of the study and developing new grants.

Her Passion: "My passion involves two types of research, and I have grants in each. One is developing strategies to prevent mood disorders. I've developed interpersonal psychotherapy-based preventive interventions for symptomatic adolescent children of bipolar parents. For that I have received two foundation grants and a National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) K Award-which is a scientist-mentored award that allows you to become an expert in your field."

"The other area I am passionate about is cross-cultural adaptation of psychotherapy for disadvantaged populations worldwide. I have consulted and trained and participated in research grants doing testing in randomized trials in South Uganda, and recently with adolescents in refugee camps. That work involved depressed adolescents in refugee camps and a comparison of three different therapeutic approaches. I really believe that if we intervene early enough and help adolescents find and learn skills for anti-depression, help them understand and accept cognitive and emotional processes that contribute to depression, as well as helping families understand how important this issue is, it will have lifelong favorable effects. I believe in early intervention and am interested in preventive efforts.

In our next issue: Meet more new faculty who are joining TC this fall, including Eleanor Drago-Severson, Associate Professor of Education; Rachel Navarro, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education; Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology and Education; and Ye Wang, Assistant Professor of Education.

Published Thursday, Sep. 8, 2005