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Lella Gandini Ed.D  

United States Liaison for the Reggio Emilia Program in the United States and Adjunct Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Lella Gandini, the United States liaison for the dissemination of the early-childhood education known as the Reggio Emilia approach.

• A native of Italy, she was connected early with the Reggio Emilia approach, which focuses on fostering relationships and learning among children, teachers, parents and community. She would later become the point person for the approach in the United States.

• Gandini’s description of the Reggio Emilia approach: “The starting point is to be convinced that children have tremendous potential already when they are born, so that - in a preschool - rather than thinking ‘What can I teach these children?’ teachers observe and listen to children and construct learning with them.”

• She moved to Massachusetts after meeting and marrying a professor at Smith College in Northampton. She became an Italian instructor there while completing her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree. She received her Ed.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

• She is co-author of several books for parents and educators and author of many books of fairy tales, nursery rhymes and stories for children. All of the latter, as well as a number of co-authored books for children, were published in Italian.

• Her most recent book, Insights and Inspiration from Reggio Emilia: Stories of Teachers and Children from North America, is composed of contributed words and images from classrooms across the country that are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. The book works with the Reggio-inspired idea of “The 100 Languages of Children,” which emphasizes the different ways children can express themselves and learn.

• Gandini first came to Lesley to speak at the annual kindergarten conference. The invitation was from Professor Mary Mindess. “We got to know each other,” Gandini said. “She was interested in the approach and she had the idea for a spring conference devoted to the approach. She was, to me, the ambassador for Lesley College. She is a wonderful person.”

• She has been a visiting scholar at Lesley for the past two years, during which she led a number of professional development meetings and taught graduate courses.

• Retirement is not an option. “I travel a great deal in the states,” Gandini says. “I’m going to Arizona in a couple of days and then I go to Canada. My calendar is full next year. But I think I’ve found at Lesley an environment that is so rich and interesting that I think I will continue to be attached and see how I can develop ideas.”

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