US academic Amanda Pintore has been welcomed to Atlantic Technological University (ATU) for a month-long collaboration with Early Childhood Care, Health and Education students and staff.
Amanda Pintore is an assistant professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre at Arizona State University.
Her visit to Ireland presents a unique opportunity for her to promote creativity in the arts in early years education.
Some 350 students are currently undertaking Early Childhood Care, Health & Education degrees across ATU Letterkenny, Galway and Mayo campuses.
Amanda’s dynamic approach to education through theatre and movement builds on the foundations of the degrees, offering an alternative pathway for educators to be playful practitioners.
This is the first time that any Early Childhood Care and Education BA/BSc programme in Ireland has had a Fulbright Specialist on an exchange.
Curriculum approaches make up the foundation of the Bachelor of Arts offered in Galway and Mayo and the Bachelor of Science offered in Letterkenny. Both degrees explore playful pedagogy and Amanda’s exchange presents a further opportunity for ATU to lead out on creative curriculum approaches.
As a director, choreographer, and educator, Amanda’s mission for her October tour across ATU campuses is to “meet each group of students where they are at and help them expand their personal practice in relation to play, performance and research for Early Years.”
“I’m excited to drop students into the creative methodology as well as play. To get them thinking about their own practice and what they might take away,” she said.
Amanda also aims to help recalibrate students’ definitions of research and their own work.
“It’s about changing people’s relationship with practice and research. A lot of the students I work with at ASU come in with an uncertain relationship with research and childhood. A lot of them consider themselves educators or artists but certainly not researchers and we see it as all embedded,” she said.
Amanda will be engaging with undergraduate students, research students and staff at ATU Donegal from 2nd – 13th October. From the 16th -28th October, she will facilitate student research in Galway and Mayo, with children from a local Castlebar early years setting and will perform at Baboro Arts Festival. Amanda will also contribute as the international expert at the Pilot in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare event 18th October for early years educators and Artists.
She will also visit Early Years settings and work in collaboration with Donegal County Childcare Committee. The itinerary for Amanda also gives her the opportunity to research her methodology in an international setting.
“I’m excited to see how this month unfolds to incorporate the experience into the book that I am working on,” she said.
The exchange is also an exciting opportunity for ATU Early Childhood Care, Health and Education programmes to support national policy initiatives as highlighted in the most recent policy document from The Department of the Taoiseach “From Poverty to Potential: A Programme Plan for Child Well-being 2023-2025” – Parents Plus!.
As the programmes grow in numbers and the staff profile diversifies, Dr Nigel McKelvey, Head of Department of Early Education and Social Studies at ATU Donegal said that the current cohort of students is in a “unique and positive place” with new opportunities available to them.
Some have also broadened their horizons on an Erasmus exchange with partner Institution Queen Maud University, Trondheim, Norway.
On Amanda’s visit, Nigel said: “We are delighted to welcome someone from another university, someone who has clearly got the expertise and a passion for a discipline area that is the foundation of Early Childhood Education.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for our students at ATU Donegal, and across our sister campuses to facilitate our students in gaining additional skills and bringing them back into the workplace. Students can feel inspired while enriching the lives of children.”
Dr Rita Melia, lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Care and Fulbright Ireland Alumni Ambassador for ATU said: “It’s about highlighting the importance of Early Childhood Education and Care and professionalism of the sector and the importance of having qualified people working in the sector to ensure children have a quality early years experience.
“As the Fulbright Ambassador for ATU I’m delighted to have Amanda here as the Fulbright Specialist to expand and extend our relationships with ASU. We would hope we can further develop our relationship with you and collaborate virtually or face to face with research students.”
The collaboration is supported by ATU, the Fulbright U.S. Program and the Fulbright Commission in Ireland.