Some of Our KIDS FIRST! Jurors
Denise A. Bloomfield has an A.A. Degree in Journalism and a B.A. Degree is Addictive Studies. She has experience as a Domestic Violence Advocate and has also worked in Special Education, Child Abuse Prevention and has been a Freelance Writer for local magazines and newspapers. She currently is a Freelance Writer, Homeschooling Mom and Publisher of SoCal City Kids (www.socalcitykids.com). She loves writing, homeschooling, photography, being a Mom and reviewing DVDs and Screenplays. Denise says,"I love being a Juror for KIDS FIRST! because it is interesting, fun and a wonderful opportunity!" More on LinkedIn.
Juanita Richburg Seon
Juanita Richburg Seon started as a KIDS FIRST! juror in 2007. Her interest and passion for movies and children is what attracted her. She is Founder and President of Curtain Call Unlimited---advocates for media & digital literacy. They teach our youth Critical Thinking Skills, as part of the Media Literacy movement. Ms. Seon is an Adult Juror and Certified Adult Critic Facilitator through the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media and KIDS FIRST Film Festival. Ms. Seon volunteers with the KAPOW (Kids & the Power of Work) sharing with kids the importance of the subjects they learn in school when they venture out in to the work world. She is also Vice President of Education of the Florida City Speedway Speakers Toastmasters Club.
Thank you KIDS FIRST! for all that you do! It has been a wonderful journey being a juror with you. Our family does not have TV; we just watch videos and this experience has enabled us to watch some videos with some friends that we would have never been exposed too. Besides seeing some good ones and bad ones we are not just sitting back and watching, we are communicating about the show that we watch. What we learned from them and what we liked and did not like about them. Now watching videos is a whole new experience with our children! Before picking up a video at the rental place I always look at your endorsed titles to see what would be best for my children. Its great to know that I can always trust what videos are on your site to be safe for my children's eyes and ears! Keep up the GREAT work KIDS FIRST!
Ignazia M. Grant (Katy) M.L.S., Library Science, B.S., Elementary Education, Indiana University. For the last twenty-three years Ms. Grant has worked with children's library materials. Currently as West Region Children's Librarian for Louisville Free Public Library, Louisville, Kentucky. "As a children's library assistant (1980-94), I conducted story-times for children ages two to fourteen years. As a children's librarian (1995-present), I am always looking for new doors to open with children." Katy is a member of the KIDS FIRST! Advisory Board.
Dr. Ed Greene
Ed Greene holds a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education and Child Psychology from Indiana State University, a M.A. in Child and Human Development from Pacific Oaks College and a B. A. in Music from DePauw University. Dr. Greene served as an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Lehman College, City University of New York and as an online instructor for Pacific Oaks College (Pasadena, CA). He served a four-year term on the Governing Board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and is presently on the Board of the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition, Educational Equity Concepts and Jumpstart Americorps. Dr. Greene has served as a consultant for Children's Television Workshop, Lancit Media and Time / Life Kids, and was an Advisor to PBS Ready To Learn. Ed currently works at Sesame Workshop where he is responsible for their global outreach initiative. Dr. Greene is a member of the KIDS FIRST! National Board.
Dr. Laura Gruntmeir
Dr. Laura Gruntmeir obtained her Ed.D. from Oklahoma State University in Higher Education Administration with an emphasis in Family Relations and Child Development, and has a graduate certificate from Oklahoma State University in Gerontology. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a M.S. in Human Relations, and from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences and a secondary major in Gerontology. Dr. Gruntmeir currently serves as program coordinator / instructor and teaches nutrition, health and safety at Redlands Community College. She a Certified Family Life Educator with the National Council on Family Relations, and is a member of the American Associate Degree Early Childhood Educators, the American Association for the Education of Young Children, and Rotary International. She resides on the family farm with her husband who is a wheat and cattle producer. They have two small children and a pack of animals including a horse, dog, guinea pig and more cats than they can herd.
Kathleen says: I am proud to be a Music Teacher (K-8) and Show Choir Director at the Seven Hills Public Charter School in Worcester, Massachusetts. I have been teaching for 30 years and love it. I was recognized as the "Distiguished Educator of Music" for the state of Massachusetts in 2002. Our Show Choir has performed at more than 200 performances over the last eight years, including a national televised performance with Sir Elton John and the Boston Pops. We also performed on national television at the Democratic National Convention.
I can't remember when I joined the Coalition for Quality Children's Media as a juror. It seems like I've been doing it forever (ten years or more). I was born in a small place called Enville, Tennessee. We moved to Caruthersville, Mo where I attended all my school years. After getting out of the Air Force, I married, moved to Memphis, Tn and had two beautiful boys. I got my degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Library Science, and later got a Masters in Business Education. Then I went on to get an endorsement in Curriculum and Supervision. I've worked for Memphis City Schools as an elementary teacher and librarian and am now recently retired. I have been telling stories ever since I started teaching and I am a professional storyteller serving as the secretary of the Tennessee Storytelling Association. I have always tried to improve my skills in the area of literature. It was while attending a library conference that I got a form to sign up as a juror. My school children have always loved literature. I instill that in them the best I can. Being a juror keeps me more in tune with what's in the market place and gives me better, and more, communication with the children. They love the stories. As a bonus, we get to keep the DVDs to use over and over again. I have written several books that I use with my children: The Little Red Rooster, Grandpa's Gift and Idama Tells Time. Also, I've written one adult inspiration book "He Is Always With Me" that contains various short stories that I've used over the years. They are related to value's education that can be used in church or at school. I have enjoyed being a juror, and the children, well, they are always excited about what's coming next. I now do volunteer work where I can still pull the children and continue my work as a juror.
Monique Kogan has a M.S.in Library Science, University of British Columbia with specialization in Children's Literature; B.A., Psychology, Simon Fraser University, B. Ed, Simon Fraser University with specialization in Early Childhood Education; Certificate of Liberal Arts, Simon Fraser University. Currently, she is a freelance software reviewer for family papers, and a stay at home parent.
Dr. Irving Lazar (deceased)
Dr. Lazar, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University, received his Doctorate from Columbia University and was an intern at the Menninger Clinic. He is a Resident Scholar at the Kennedy Center for Research in Human Development at Vanderbilt University, was a Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu and was a member of the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute. Dr. Lazar has conducted longitudinal studies on the effects of early intervention with infants and preschool children and has designed and evaluated service programs for children and their familes in this country and abroad. He served as a Trustee of the Coalition for several years.
Valerie says: I have been the director of the after-school and summer programs at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School for eight years. Heathwood Hall is an independent school for three-year-olds through 12th graders, located in Columbia, SC. Our after-school program includes students in nursery school (three- year-olds) through eighth grade. I worked as a full time mom for 13 years before being employed outside the home full-time. In a previous career, I was a computer programmer but really wanted to work with children and stay involved with my own children and their school. I love working with the children in my care and enjoy working with college students studying to be teachers who work on my staff. I am fortunate to have experienced teachers from our faculty who work in our after-school program. KIDS FIRST!® is a wonderful resource for parents and schools looking for quality childrens' media. My goal in becoming a juror for KIDS FIRST!® was to train my staff to use media as a positive teaching tool & help children view media actively rather than passively. I think it is more important than ever to teach children to view media using critical thinking skills.
Elizabeth O' Connell
Elizabeth OConnell is an award-winning producer and editor with over 25 years of program development experience for the Discovery Channel, PBS and Rand McNally. In 1988, her first children's program, "The Friendly Gray Whales," won a silver apple. Nature and Natural History programs evolved easily from her Alaska surroundings where she lived for over 15 years. Her most recent program "Alaskas Coolest Bird's" is also a childrens program narrated by an enthusiastic six-year-old. Check out www.wondervisions.com to learn about more.
Christine Pollock, managing editor of KIDS FIRST! News since 2004, has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Houghton College, a minor in music and a diploma from the Institute of Children's Literature. Christine spent twelve years working with preschool children. She taught in a Waldorf-inspired preschool and operated a licensed Head Start home daycare. Her music and art curriculums have been published for daycare providers. Most recently, Christine's work has been published in Cable in the Classroom's magazine, Access Learning and in United Parenting Publication's 16 plus publications. Christine and her sculptor husband, Christopher, reside in western New York. They currently enjoy homeschooling their three boys and teaching sixty students in the local homeschool co-op about media literacy and music in media. Christine and her boys have been KIDS FIRST! jurors since 1999.
Jill has a BS & Masters in Education , some post grad work. She works as an Assessor for the National Association for the Education of Young
Children, conducting school accreditation visits. She also works as a teacher-naturalist for a Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary, on a
school committee for five elected terms (three year terms), on a Board of Directors
for 15 years that serves special needs children. Former work experience
includes elementary school teacher, preschool assistant-director and former adjunct instructor at community college (early childhood courses and intro to psych). Currently give workshops and periodic early childhood professional development trainings.
I am pleased to be a juror. When I was in graduate school I did a review of research on children's media. There were direct correlations between quantity and quality of what children watched, and the effects on them socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically. As an educator, then later as a parent it enhanced my ability to screen what children watched. KIDS FIRST! provides a service for parents and educators with the comprehensive review of attributes quality media should encompass.
Deepa Rajagopal is a full-time mom and resides with her husband Murthy and their five-year-old daughter Kavya in Fairfax, VA. She recently launched her three well-acclaimed movie titles for preschoolers and toddlers under the brand name "Smart Cookie!" to the North American market. She is currently working on children's books that will be sold under the same brand name.
Renee Sanchez is the department coordinator of the Ector County Library. She writes, "I thought it would be great to learn a little more about the KIDS FIRST!® organization and found out the benefits of joining the KIDS FIRST!® Jury. I feel it would be a great asset for the Ector County Library and the children we serve."
Lorilei Songy holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Mississippi. After graduating from Ole Miss, Lori ventured to Santa Fe, NM, where she found a home with the Coalition for Quality Children's Media/KIDS FIRST! This began her journey as an advocate for children. Acting as CQCM's Public Relations Director, she had the opportunity to get involved in their plethora of programs, including the organization's first book - The New York Times/KIDS FIRST! Guide to the Best Children's Videos - as well as Meg's Gifts and their first KIDS FIRST! Film Festival. After leaving New Mexico, Lorilei returned to her hometown, New Orleans, where she began working with children first hand. For the past 10 years, she has dedicated her life to education. She is currently an educator in a junior high Special Education classroom, a Chemistry and Physical Science teacher, Varsity Volleyball and Soccer Coach, as well as Advisor for the Key Club Community Service Organization at Ecole Classique in Metairie, LA.
I enjoy volunteering as a KIDS FIRST! Juror, not only because it allows me to be a part of an organization that I whole-heartedly support, but also because it allows the opportunity for children to be advocates for themselves. All of my Kid Jurors feel a sense of pride and purpose when they evaluate the media. It's not only a "nice break" from the monotonous routine of a school day, but acts as a wonderful multi-sensory contribution to the curriculum.
Courtney Taylor is the proud mother of an inquisitive 7-year-old boy. For years, they have enjoyed watching movies together and rating them. With KIDS FIRST!, they can now fuel their love for films and give back to the world of responsible children’s media. By day, Courtney works as the Senior Content Developer for Telligent, a Dallas-based company with a recognized history of innovative software development and creative services for online communities and social networks. By night, Courtney is a freelance writer, working as a ghost writer for authors, pastors, and not-for-profit organizations.
Margie has a B.A. in Psychology from University of California, Berkeley and a M.Ed. from University of California, Los Angeles. She also has an Education Specialist Degree from Florida State University. Margie is currently a stay-at-home mom, but taught elementary school before her children were born. She spends her free time walking the family dog, reading, knitting, and oil painting. She recently began showing and selling her paintings and has been hired to paint some commissioned pieces. In addition to volunteering for Kids First, Margie volunteers at her children's school, is on their school's Principal Advisory Team, volunteers for her church and sits on her county's Public Arts Council. She also teaches youth knitting and quilting classes.
Linda Werner holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, San Diego. She is a lecturer and researcher at UCSC and for the last ten years has been engaged in research to help young women and men (primarily middle schoolers) be creators not just users of technology. Her latest project has the students creating their own computer games using Storytelling Alice. Check them out at http://psweb.etr.org/igame/demo/index.cfm.