Areas of Expertise
- Critical practices in early childhood education
- Critical media literacy
- Community-based inquiry
Lauren Ray is an associate professor of early childhood education at the University of Missouri. She received her Ph.D. in educational leadership from Saint Louis University. Lauren previously was the director of an early childhood program in Richmond, California and worked for the International Child Resource Institute in Berkeley. In her current role she serves as the Emphasis Area Coordinator for early childhood. As a teacher educator, Lauren supports a pedagogy of developing teachers that (1) values the individual agency and capacity of all children; (2) critically examines, through a social justice lens, classroom spaces, curricula, community contexts, and media; (3) understands teaching of young children as an intellectual and scholarly pursuit.
Lauren has been a contributor to college and community events aimed at building practitioner’s connections to the community, including Documentary and Dialogue, a critical media literacy series for preservice teachers, and Teaching St. Louis, a series for practicing teachers learning to teach from the “text” of their community. She was selected as a 2016 YWCA Leader in the Workplace as a recognition for her work engaging students with their local community. She has worked as a program evaluator for multiple youth services organizations including UrbanFuture, Youth Leadership St. Louis, Cultural Leadership, and Sherwood Forest Camp. In professional development workshops and writings she challenges normative assumptions about democratic participation in classrooms, schools, and community contexts.