Stephanie C. Smith is Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on socio-cultural foundations and pedagogy in early childhood. Her research interests center on the connection between pedagogy and societal issues associated with race and class. Dr. Smith’s work focuses primarily on these connections in urban early childhood programs.

Key Professional Appointments

Yew Chung -- Bernard Spodek Scholar in Early Childhood Education University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2015 - present

Assistant Profesor Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2014 - present

Clinical Assistant Professor Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies, University of Florida, 2011 - 2014

Research Assistant Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago, 2010 - 2011

Instructor Urban Teacher Education/Sociology and Anthropology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, 2008 - 2010


Ph.D., Urban Systems, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2011

M.A., Cultural and Educational Policy Studies, Loyola University Chicago, 2007

B.S., Early Childhood Education, Butler University, 2003

Awards, Honors, Associations

Graduate Student Excellence Award Graduate Student Government Association, Rutgers Newark, 2011 - 2011

Graduate Merit Award Graduate School, Rutgers Newark, 2009 - 2009

Early Career Research Award National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators Foundation, 2015 - 2015

Research & Service

My research centers around the connection between pedagogy and social issues associated with race and socioeconomic class. My work both supports and questions many current ideas about culturally appropriate pedagogy, particularly as applied to high-need students in urban areas.
Currently, I am studying effective school/family relationships and school-level barriers that inhibit the development of strong, hierarchical relationships. I also study effects of differing pedagogic methods in early childhood programs serving high-need populations


Smith, S. (2015) Against race- and class-based pedagogy in early childhood education Palgrave Macmillan: New York, NY

Sanders-Smith, S., Smith-Bonahue, T., & Soutullo, O. (2016) Practicing teachers' response to case method of instruction in an online graduate course Teaching and Teacher Education 54 (1), 1-11  link >

Soutullo, O., Smith-Bonahue, T., & Sanders-Smith, S. (2016) Navigating barriers to school engagement for immigrant families School Psychology Quarterly

Sanders-Smith, S. (2015) Class and pedagogy: A case study of two Chicago preschools International Studies in the Sociology of Education 25 (4), 314-332

Smith, S. (2014) Parental engagement in a Reggio Emilia inspired Head Start Early Childhood Research and Practice 16 (1), 1-11  link >

Smith, S., Smith-Bonahue, T., & Soutullo, O. (2014) "My assumptions were wrong": Exploring teachers' constructions of self and biases towards diverse families Journal of Family Diversity in Education

Smith, S. (2013) Review of Handbook of research on the education of young children by O.N. Saracho and B. Spodek (eds.) Teachers College Record

Smith, S. (2013) Classroom interaction and pedagogic practice: A Bernsteinian analysis International Journal of Sociology of Education 2 (3)  link >

Smith, S. (2012) Cultural relay in early childhood education: Methods of teaching ‘school behavior’ to low income children Urban Review 44 (5), 263-291

Miller, L., & Smith, S. (2011) Did the No Child Left Behind Act miss the mark? Assessing the benefits of an accountability system for early childhood education Educational Policy 25 (1), 194-214

Sanders-Smith, S., & Gaumer, N.. Working together to support math pedagogy: It all adds up for students.. Voices from the field – Collaborative innovations in early childhood educator preparation.. Illinois Education Research Council

Sanders-Smith, S. (2016) Review of School integration matters: Research-based strategies to advance equity by Erica Frankenberg, Liliana M. Garces, and Megan Hopkins (eds.) Teachers College Record  link >


Editorial Board Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research, 2014 - 2017

Board of Trustees Holy Trinity Episcopal School of Gainesville, 2013 - 2014

Board of Directors Sociology of Education Association, 2012 - 2014

Early Childhood Education Panel Illinois Articulation Initiative, 2015 - present


My commitment to culturally appropriate pedagogic practices extends through my teaching as well as my research. All of my courses use materials that focus on the lives of many different populations. It is my goal for all of my students to gain a greater level of cultural awareness. But as my students themselves come from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, I also model culturally appropriate pedagogy in all classes.


Found of Early Childhood Educ Study of the role of the early childhood teacher in designing, organizing, and implementing educational programs for children in preschools, kindergartens, and the first three grades of the elementary school; includes the history, philosophy, and theory of early childhood education; includes morning school practicum providing at least 90 hours of early field experience. Course Information: 3 or 5 undergraduate hours. 3 or 5 graduate hours. Prerequisite: Admission to the Early Childhood Teacher Education Program; EPSY 236; EPS 201; CI 468. Class Schedule Information: Students in the Early Childhood Certification program will need to register for 5 hours and will do the junior practicum. Students in International and Cultural Perspectives in Early Schooling concentration, who are not in the certification program, will need to register for 3 hours.

Prin & Prac in Early Childhood Studies the principles and practices of using play as an educational tool in early childhood education; reviews historical, philosophical, and psychological foundations of nursery-kindergarten methods; assesses techniques relating play to various aspects of instruction; surveys materials and equipment; and presents methods of classroom evaluation. Course Information: 3 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit. Prerequisite: CI 420; admission to the Early Childhood Teacher Education Program. Concurrent enrollment in EDPR 420 and EDPR 438; credit or concurrent registration in EDPR 250, section EC.

Reggio Emilia Study Abroad Seminar course on topics not treated by regularly scheduled courses; requests for initiation may be made by students or faculty member. Course Information: 2 to 4 undergraduate hours. 2 to 4 graduate hours. Approved for both letter and S/U grading. May be repeated to a maximum of 8 hours. Prerequisite: Junior standing.

Curriculum Policy Intensive examination of problems and trends in the subject fields. Course Information: May be repeated to a maximum of 8 hours.

Schools and Families Intensive examination of problems and trends in the subject fields. Course Information: May be repeated to a maximum of 8 hours.

Hist of EC Pedagogy & Programs This course is an overview of historical influences of contemporary early childhood pedagogy and programs. Topics may include, but are not limited to, Enlightenment Era educational reforms, German kindergartens, the Progressive Era, and the War on Poverty. Course Information: 4 graduate hours. No professional credit.

Curr Prob Trends in EC Edu Includes principles underlying education practices in day care centers, preschool/nursery and kindergarten settings derived from theory and research in developmental psychology, social psychology, anthropology, and other related disciplines.

Stephanie Sanders-Smith

Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction



322 Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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