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. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Soutullo, O., Smith, S., & Smith-Bonahue, T. (2019). School psychology interns’ characterizations of family-school partnerships. Psychology in the Schools,.

Cordoba, T., & Smith, S. (2018). A Closer Look: Socio-Structural Influences on Teacher-Child Interactions During Project Work. Journal of Early Childhood Research,.

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.

Smith, S., & Gaumer, N. (2016). Working together to support math pedagogy: It all adds up for students. Voices from the field – Collaborative innovations in early childhood educator preparation ( pp. 163-178). Edwardsville, IL: Illinois Education Research Council.

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.

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

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., Smith-Bonahue, T., & Soutullo, O. Building a fortress: School policies undermining family engagement Urban Review,.

Smith, S., & Thorstensson Davila, L. Progressive practice and translanguaging: Supporting trilingualisim in a Hong Kong preschool. Bilingual Research Journal,.

Smith, S., Smith-Bonahue, T., Cordoba, T., & Soutullo, O. Shifting perspectives: Preservice teacher preparation in family engagement Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education,.

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.

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.


Multilingualism, creativity, and learning in an early childhood dual language classroom in Hong Kong. (2018). AERA: New York, NY.

Challenges to facilitating effective family-school partnerships: Learning from teachers (2015). NASP: Orlando, FL.

School improvement for early childhood teachers: The Florida Master Teacher Initiative (2014). AERA: Philadelphia, PA.

Technological skill and the pedagogic device: Applying unstructured knowledge to the online classroom (2014).: Nagoya, Japan.

Creating coherent professional development for practicing teachers: The Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction graduate program (2014). ATE: St. Louis, MO.

Midcourse corrections: Reflective and responsive program design (2014). ATE: St. Louis, MO.

Teacher beliefs toward home-school collaboration through parental involvement (2014). NASP: Washington, DC.

Teachers and Families: How Teacher Bias Toward Diverse Families Relates to Social Constructions of Self (2014). ASA: San Francisco, CA.

Innovative, systemic, professional development: Working together to improve school quality in a diverse urban school district. (2013). NAEYC: Washington, DC.

The (re)construction of teacher self-identity: Engaging with the “other” in building family-school partnerships (2014). AERA: Philadelphia, PA.

The role of the teacher: A Bernsteinian analysis of classroom interactions and pedagogic practice (2014). AERA: Philadelphia, PA.

Using the Case Method of Instruction to shift beliefs about the role of families in the classroom (2014). ATE: St. Louis, MO.

A blended, job-embedded early childhood graduate program for practicing teachers (2013). SRATE: Sarasota, FL.

Discovering the significance of home-school partnerships through the case method of instruction (2013). SRATE: Sarasota, FL.

Using elaborated codes in preschool: Language codes acquisition among children in differing Head Start programs (2013). SEA: Pacific Grove, CA.

Using formative feedback to strengthen a blended teacher education graduate program (2013). SRATE: Sarasota, FL.

Visible and invisible pedagogy in preschool: A Bernsteinian analysis of early childhood pedagogic practice (2013). ASA: New York, NY.

Cultural relay through pedagogic practice: A comparison of classroom management techniques in two urban Head Start programs (2012). Graduate School Newark: Newark, NJ.

Developmentally appropriate professional development for early childhood educators: Florida Master Teacher Initiative. (2012). NAEYC: Atlanta, GA.

Visible and invisible pedagogies in preschool: Results from a Bernsteinian analysis of early childhood teaching practice (2012). SEA: Pacific Grove, CA.

Defining invisible pedagogy in early childhood education: A Bernsteinian analysis of the teaching practices of two Head Start programs (2011). SEA: Pacific Grove, CA.

Did the No Child Left Behind Act miss the mark? Assessing the benefits of an accountability system for early childhood education (2011). AERA: New Orleans, LA.

Race, social class, and pedagogy: An analysis of differing pedagogical models in two low-income minority preschools (2011). AERA: New Orleans, LA.

Appropriate pedagogy for low-income children: Considering influence of cultural deprivation and cultural difference theories and the use visible and invisible pedagogies (2010).: Brisbane, Australia.


Editorial Board Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research, 2014 - 2016

Early Childhood Education Panel Illinois Articulation Initiative, 2015 - 2016

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

Board of Directors Sociology of Education Association, 2012 - 2014


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 (CI 420) Students will study of the role of the early childhood teacher in designing, organizing, and implementing educational programs for children in preschools, kindergartens, and the primary grades. This course includes the history, philosophy, and theory of early childhood education. Students will complete a morning field placement in a local elementary school. 5 undergraduate hours. 5 graduate hours.

Prin & Prac in Early Childhood (CI 421) 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. 3 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit.

Hist of EC Pedagogy & Programs (CI 520) 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. 4 graduate hours. No professional credit.

Curr Prob Trends in EC Edu (CI 521) 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.

Arts in EC & EE: Curr in Cont (CI 522) Role of dance, drama, music, literature, and the visual arts in early childhood and elementary education, focusing on production/performance, appreciation, history, and aesthetics. Interrelationships among curriculum, notions of child development, cultural contexts, and unique traditions of different arts disciplines. Current art education practices in the United States and other countries. Requires attendance at performances and visits to an art museum. 4 graduate hours. No professional credit.

Using Theory in Tea Ed Res (CI 557) Students in this course will read a variety of theoretical viewpoints in order to frame and critically examine teacher education research. Students will be encouraged to use multiple theories to frame research questions and findings as a way to situate themselves as researchers and consider ways in which multiple theoretical perspectives can be used to examine and interpret different aspects of their research in teacher education.

School & Community Experiences (EDPR 250) Early field experiences in teacher education, including observation and laboratory experiences in public schools: designed to provide opportunities for career exploration, professional orientation, the development of insight into the interrelationship of theory and practice, and the place of the student in the educational process. Approved for S/U grading only. May be repeated.

Smith, Stephanie

Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction



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

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