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EdsUp! UM Faculty Launch Early Childhood Podcast

Author Richard Grant (left) speaks with EdsUp! co-hosts Cathy Grace (center) and Melody Musgrove during a taping. Photo by Andrew Abernathy/School of Education

A new podcast created by faculty at the University of Mississippi’s Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning is helping raise awareness of important issues related to the development of young children.

Hosted by Melody Musgrove and Cathy Grace, the center’s co-directors, “EdsUp!” is sponsored by the Southern Early Childhood Association and is available for download through Apple podcasts, SoundCloud and the iHeartRadio app.

“The podcast is very broad,” explained Musgrove, an associate professor at the UM School of Education. “It’s not just about education. It is also about families, and how they can help young children.

“We talk to authors, policy experts and researchers. They are not all people who serve young children directly, but they are all people who are relevant to the conversation.”

Dubbed “a podcast all about children and those who care for them,” each episode features expert interviews and commentary and ends with a “Lit Bit,” which is a poem ideal for young children.

Above all, the podcasts advocate for the well-being of young children and frame conversations with research-based perspectives. As noted by Grace and Musgrove, myths and misconceptions often have influenced policies that affect children.

The hosts hope to dispel myths, promote equity and help listeners connect early childhood issues to current and local events through a series of “no-nonsense” conversations.

With 10 episodes available for download, recent guests include Dr. Bruce Perry, an internationally recognized psychiatrist whose research examines how trauma affects brain development in children; Steven Hicks, a former senior policy adviser for the U.S. Department of Education; and Sara Zaske, author of “Achtung Baby,” a book that compares perspectives on childhood development in the United States and Germany.

As noted by both hosts, the fields of early childhood education and development have changed dramatically in recent years, and the podcast seeks to highlight this. Medical research by Perry shows that poverty and trauma hinder the biological development of children’s brains, both Grace and Musgrove said.

They also note how research by economist James Heckman, of the University of Chicago, has proven investments in quality early childhood programs can yield a 13 percent return in long-term cost savings.

But that’s just a small part of what stakeholders need to understand about early childhood development and education, they said.

“It’s not just about nursery school anymore,” Grace said. “There is no more argument about whether or not early childhood works or if investments pay off. We are looking at the challenges and stressors that are facing the future of our profession and how we can all address them.”

Musgrove and Grace also bring decades of experience and their own expert perspectives to the podcast.

Grace has worked in education for more than four decades and previously held faculty positions at Mississippi Valley State University and the University of Southern Mississippi and was founding director of the Early Childhood Institute at Mississippi State University. She also served as policy director for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., before joining the Ole Miss faculty.

Musgrove served as director of the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education from 2010 to 2016. OSEP oversees the administration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a law that ensures educational services and opportunities for children of all ages.

She also previously served as state director of special education with the Mississippi Department of Education, and started her career as a classroom teacher in the state.

“EdsUp!” episodes will be updated regularly. For more information about “EdsUp!” visit https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/edsup/id1441849372.

By Andrew M. Abernathy

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