Who are we? Synapse Early Learning Systems, an early childhood education consulting and training company, was founded in early 2017 by Sara Beach, M.Ed. Our primary goal is to assist early education programs to envision, build, strengthen, and sustain strong, healthy, and integrated systems that support teachers to do their very best work with young children.
Sara Beach’s credentials: Ms. Beach’s professional background is extensive. In 1986 she obtained a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from the prestigious Erikson Institute of Chicago. In her early career, Ms. Beach started, developed, and directed a large successful non-profit child care and early education program (10 years). With a desire to do more direct application of research to practice, she moved into the Head Start arena to do training and teacher coaching for the Ounce of Prevention’s original Educare programs, located on the south side of Chicago. In the era of Early Reading First, she continued coaching and training for other Chicago programs and lead an assessment team in collecting child outcome data for a large ERF program (5 years).
For 25 years, Ms. Beach taught a wide range of Early Childhood Education courses (adjunct) in both community college and university settings, and also did extensive training of teachers and directors for the Illinois Trainers Network (QRIS) for many years as well.
In 2007, Ms. Beach was hired as a teacher coach and course facilitator by the National Center for Research in Early Childhood Education at the University of Virginia. Led by Drs. Robert Pianta and Bridget Hamre, authors of the CLASSroom Assessment Scoring System, this groundbreaking research study tested and validated the My Teaching Partner (MTP) coaching model. The success of the research ushered in a new era of teacher coaching, and My Teaching Partner later served as a model for Practice-Based Coaching. In this work, Ms. Beach was trained extensively on the CLASSroom Assessment Scoring System and its use with teachers and instructional coaches. She coached teachers in Chicago, Memphis, and Rhode Island, and taught a college level course entitled “Teaching Language and Literacy Through Effective Teacher Child Interactions”. Mentored by Dr. Sarah Hadden, she began doing CLASS Observation Trainings, as the CLASS was beginning to gain public interest (2009).
In 2010 after the completion of the My Teaching Partner study, Ms. Beach moved over to the newly formed company Teachstone (founded Drs. Pianta and Hamre) to work on scaling the My Teaching Partner model for a national audience. She wrote training manuals and early MTP materials, and served as Lead MTP Specialist (overseeing newly hired MTP Specialists to work with coaches out in the field).
In 2009, the Office of Head Start (OHS) partnered with the University of Virginia and Teachstone to pilot and eventually adopt the CLASSroom Assessment Scoring System nationwide. Ms. Beach was privileged to be a Trainer of Trainers for OHS’s extensive team of Training and Technical Assistance providers from across the country, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. This began Ms. Beach’s 5 year-long stint as a CLASS trainer, and during this period she traveled extensively throughout the United States and in China to provide a multitude of different trainings at the Pre-K, K-3, Infant and Toddler levels. She was a Master Coder for Teachstone, and did Dual Coding with evaluators for the Office of Head Start (Danya) and the State of Georgia’s QRIS system.
Ms. Beach received a doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and in 2011 went to work as a research assistant for Dr. Karen LaParo (the 3rd author of the CLASS). Throughout this time she also continued working as an MTP Specialist for Teachstone. Dr. LaParo’s research centered on professional development and teacher coaching, and during her time at UNCG, Ms. Beach did in-depth literature reviews of these topics. Although she did not complete her doctoral degree, this mid-life experience in academia solidified her commitment to the application of cutting-edge research to direct practice in schools, and in 2012 she returned to Illinois and recommitted herself to full-time training work with Teachstone.
By 2014, Ms. Beach accepted a position with the Ounce of Prevention (Chicago) as the Assistant Director for Lead Learn Excel, Illinois’ Race-To-Top funded leadership training initiative. This program grew out of the body of rich school improvement research generated by the new field of implementation science. This position afforded her the opportunity to immerse herself into the world of public school state pre-K programs, which she did for the next 2 exhaustive years. Working with principals, superintendents, and instructional coaches, Ms. Beach played a lead role with a team of program implementation specialists. Ms. Beach brought her rich background with the CLASS to this position, and Illinois’ top performing programs across the state were trained in inclusive, collaborative leadership and the implementation of CLASS-based job-embedded profession development in schools and centers. Ms. Beach’s role in the administration of Lead Learn Excel afforded her the opportunity to contribute extensively to the development of a rich body of training materials, and to curate the LLE library of resources, which can be accessed at www.theounce.org/lle/library.
Most recently, Ms. Beach has been providing consulting, training, and assessment services for state Pre-K, Head Start, and non-profit child care programs. She works with administrators and instructional leaders to create, implement, and sustain strong systems for quality programming (toward IL State Board of Education’s Preschool For All – Expansion Compliance Checklist, OHS Office of Head Start’s federal review, and/or Illinois’ Gold Circle of Quality–site monitoring).
We would welcome the opportunity to share this expertise with your district, program or center. Ms. Beach will assemble a team of assessors, coders, and data analysts to help us scale these services to the level and size of your program. Please see the Training and Consulting pages for more information on available services (Coaching and Assessment information available soon–these pages are in development!) We so look forward to working with you to create the outcomes you desire!