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Lauri Brugger

Woman to watch: Lauri Brugger

Arlene Hisiger Her Rochester.com,February 8, 2014

As director of Community Partnerships at Children's Institute, Lauri S. Brugger oversees programs that affect Rochester's youngest learners: RECAP, a community-wide assessment program for pre-K classrooms dedicated to improving early childhood education, and Pathways, a national early education and care accreditation system.

The Institute's mission, to strengthen young children's social and emotional health, is one that strongly resonates with Brugger. "Above all else," Brugger stated, "teachers must have a comforting and caring interaction with their students. From there, children will feel comfortable to learn."

Brugger takes great satisfaction from the fact that Children's Institute combines service with research, both on the community and classroom level. The main objective of Children's Institute's data gathering is to answer the question: "How do we know that we are making a difference in children's lives?"

Brugger, a native of Syracuse, came here to attend the University of Rochester. Undecided as to which route her career would ultimately take, she studied political science and psychology. Her lifelong interest in working with children led her to psychology, but she also considered going into law. Early education won out and Brugger went on to earn a master of science degree in education from Nazareth College; she is currently on track for an Ed.D in executive leadership at St. John Fisher College.

"It all comes together," Brugger said. "The courses I took in policy, education and psychology all contribute to the package I brought to Children's Institute."

Although very excited about the positive impact her current position can have on children's social and emotional welfare, Brugger sometimes yearns for her days in the classroom, "for the days when I had toddlers on my lap — stories on the rug."

Yet those moments do not overshadow her enduring enthusiasm for her current work. She encourages others to move forward in their careers by trusting their instincts and not being paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes.

"It's OK to make mistakes," she said. "Move on and learn from it — better than not moving at all."

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