Jennifer Berke named an Exceptional Master Leader by Exchange Magazine

Jennifer E. Berke, Ph.D. (Markulis), a 1970 graduate of Syracuse University , has received the honor of being named an Exceptional Master Leader by Exchange magazine, a bimonthly publication for over 30 years, focusing on the administration of programs for young children. Over 27,000 early childhood professionals rely on Exchange for practical ideas and proven strategies for dealing with the day-to-day challenges of administering and working in early childhood programs.

Exchange magazine’s November/December 2015 issue featured Master Leaders in the field of Early Care and Education: 49 Exceptional Master Leaders and 38 Master Leaders were pictured and their stories told in the cover feature. Applications were received from all over the world and candidates were asked to submit a personal Mission Statement, Professional Vitae or Resume, two Letters of Recommendation, and were reviewed on the following criteria:

  • Leadership — Experienced professionals (over age 45) who have proven themselves as able leaders in their organization, and who are taking leadership in building the profession and advocating for children and families at the local, state, and/or national levels.
  • Roles — Master Leaders include organization managers, advocates, trainers, writers, researchers, counselors, public officials, policy makers — anyone who has an impactful career trajectory serving young children, families, and early childhood professionals.
  • Knowledge Base — Professionals who show a deep understanding of early childhood research, principles and practices, including addressing diversity and equity.
  • Spirit — Professionals demonstrating the ability to work collaboratively, to build networks around key issues, and to demonstrate perseverance in pursuing difficult objectives.

Jennifer Berke received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Syracuse University and taught first grade for the Syracuse City School District before relocating to Boston, Massachusetts where she taught a multi-age classroom (1st and 2nd grade) in the Brookline School District. She completed her Masters in Special Education at Boston State College. She was Head Teacher at Ecole la Campagne, a bi-lingual parent cooperative preschool for children ages 2 to 6 in Quebec, Canada. Upon returning to New York State she opened Rhymes, Rhythms, and Rainbows, a private preschool for children ages 3 to 5. She was an adjunct for Jamestown Community College and SUNY Fredonia, a Cornell Cooperative Extension Agent and a Human Development Specialist for Family Health Services- a family practice medical setting.  She completed her doctoral studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In 2001 she was hired as an Assistant Professor at Mercyhurst North East and Chair of the Human Growth and Development Department. Concurrently, she worked as an Education Specialist for the Achievement Center, an agency providing services for children with identified needs, birth through 18, and their families. She was given the responsibility of starting the Findley Lake Early Childhood Center and guided the program through the NAEYC accreditation process. From 2013-2014, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor/ Program Coordinator Early Childhood at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

She has served on the Board of the New York State Association for the Education of Young Children in several positions, is currently co-president of CCAEYC, and has chaired fourteen local conferences in Chautauqua County. She served on the Northwest Regional Key Board (PA) which was responsible for the development of a comprehensive plan to help create a high-quality, assessable, and affordable system of early care and education for young children in Pennsylvania. She has written parenting columns in numerous magazines and is a co-author of See How They Grow: Infants and Toddlers (2007), published by Cengage.

In 2015 she received the New York State Champion for Children Member’s Award from NYSAEYC. Currently she is presenting PDI training in New York City and recently co-founded B&B Early Childhood Consultant Group, specializingin working with individuals involved in the early childhood field, providing professional development for educators, paraeducators, administrators and human service providers through workshops, presentations at conferences, and mentor-coaching.

Applications were reviewed by a panel of current, highly-respected and experienced leaders, including: Phil Acord, Kay Albrecht, Nancy P. Alexander, Ruth Ann H. Ball, Rebeca Barrera, Roberta Bergman, Paula Jorde Bloom, Pamla Jo Boulton, Mary Brown, Holly Elissa Bruno, Ruby Burgess, Margie Carter, Judy Collins, Carol Brunson Day, Louise Derman-Sparks, Chip Donohue, Sandra Duncan, Linda Espinosa, Lella Gandini, Stacie Goffin, Ellen Hall, Luis A. Hernandez, Alice Sterling Honig, Gera Jacobs, Elizabeth Jones, Phyllis Kalifeh, Michael Kalinowski, Marjorie Kostelnik, Diane Levin, Carolyn Miller, Gladys Montes, Sue Offutt, Debby Russo, Barbara Sawyer, Sheldon Shaeffer, Janet Singerman, Karen Stephens, Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan, Yasmina Vinci, Jere Wallden, Elanna Yalow, and Billie Young.

All leaders who completed the application process and were selected were included in the online version of the article.

Jennifer Berke resides in Westfield, New York with her husband Dr. Robert Berke.