Sara J. Beach, M.Ed., Founder and President, Synapse Early Learning Systems Inc. and the “Every Child’s Champion” Podcast

“Each and every child matters.  Each and every child deserves to grow up in a healthy environment, with families, caregivers, and educators who have the tools to fully nurture them and support them. We are committed to helping the programs, teachers, and families we work with to create the optimal systems of support that children deserve.”                                        Sara Beach, President of Synapse Early Learning Systems, Inc. 

Who are we? Synapse Early Learning Systems, Inc., an early childhood education consulting and training company, was founded in early 2017 by Sara Beach, M.Ed.. Our number one focus at Synapse is on CONNECTIONS: both human and organizational. In everything we do, we put healthy psychological and organizational processes at the forefront, and view them through a neuro-educational lens.

What we do: Recognizing and nurturing the connections, “from neurons to neighborhoods” —  from the youngest child in a program, to the teachers who care, to the administrators who are building and maintaining the systems of operations, to the school, child care, and community systems within which they operate– we help create the most important connections. we help early education programs to understand children’s neuro-educational needs: so that they can envision, build, strengthen, and sustain strong, healthy, and integrated systems that support teachers to do their very best work with young children. We are SYSTEM-BUILDERS! Starting at a neurobiological level, it is our number one goal to help make sure every early childhood program we work with is able to create integrated and integrative systems for optimal learning and development, of the children, parents, teachers and other staff, as well as for the program as a whole. 

                                        Every system is made up of a multitude of connection points. 

The Child: Prenatally and in the first few years of life, under the right conditions, every child’s brain develops a vast system of neural networks, made up of literally millions of cells connecting through SYNAPSES to communicate and work together. At Synapse Early Learning Systems, helping teachers and programs to provide adequate physical and emotional safety, along with the kinds of stimulation that are most conducive to brain growth (i.e. learning and development) is what we’re all about. In addition to neuronal connections, there are social connections (relationships) and cognitive connections (thinking and learning) that must be nurtured.

The Teachers: Teachers play a critical role in helping young children to make new connections. They provide the warm, stable, nurturing relationships within which children’s brains can grow. Teachers also provide the means through which children learn: connecting concepts one to another, and building ever more complex systems of knowledge and thought, and stimulating the brain pathways that allow higher-order cognitive processes to function. 

The Classroom: Every early childhood class is itself a connected system of learners, developing through multiple connecting points, with a sense of community and joint purpose. The health of a classroom community is largely determined by the teachers who nurture it. We help teachers and programs to provide high-quality physical, emotional, and learning environments for the children who grow and learn in these spaces. Training is available on everything from classroom set-up to classroom management, all with a nod to safety, nurturing, and connection.

The Program: We believe that how successful a program is at achieving their mission is in large part a function of its leadership and the system within which it operates. Therefore we provide consultation and training for leaders on creating systems of operation that infuse inclusive and equitable practices, focused on implementing developmentally-appropriate and emotionally-attuned programming for their clientele. \

The Community: Synapse Early Learning Systems, Inc. is committed to working with early childhood programs to build bridges in their communities, to understand the sometimes complex political, governmental, and funding systems within which they must operate, to make wise decisions for growth and recognition in these communities, and ultimately, to be instruments for positive change. Once again, our approach is “what makes a system healthy, integrated, and integrative for its members?” that is what we work towards.

Our Professional Credentials: Ms. Beach’s professional background is extensive. Currently within her work as Synapse Early Learning Systems, she provides extensive hours of training, consulting to programs, outreach and support to teachers through the “Every Child’s Champion” podcast, and creative development of ECE related materials. 

Ms. Beach served as a professional services contractor for the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, reviewing and researching Illinois’ professional development systems for child care, Head Start, and state pre-K; conducting focus groups and ultimately making recommendations to the state, as part of its federal PDG B-5 grant in 2020. 

She is a Pyramid Model Master Cadre Trainer and provides Process Coaching on the Pyramid Model to programs and school districts.

Ms. Beach provides contracted training services for Teachstone, LLC, the company that distributes the CLASS Assessment Scoring System and trains assessors for reliability.  She is certified as an Infant, Toddler, Pre-K and K-3 CLASS Trainer and coder, as well as being certified to provide “Mind in the Making” training for the Mind in the Making and the National Head Start Association.  An Illinois Trainer’s Network trainer, Ms. Beach regularly trains administrators, teachers, child care providers and coaches whenever and wherever there is a need, including traveling regularly for Lakeshore Learning Company as a contract trainer. She also formerly served as a “Program Support Specialist” consulting with administrators of PFA-E (state pre-K) programs for several years throughout Illinois. 

We would welcome the opportunity to share this expertise with your district, program or center.  Ms. Beach will bring together a team of assessors, coders, and data analysts to help scale these services to the level and size of your program.  Please see the Training and Consulting pages for more information on available services  We so look forward to working with you to create the outcomes you desire!

Career History: In 1986 Ms. Beach 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 led 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 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 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, available through the Start Early (formerly Ounce of Prevention) organization. 

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!