Jean Gallagher-Heil
Early Childhood Education Department Chair and Faculty
Early Childhood Education
(831) 477-5477
Room 1506D

Office Hours FALL 2021:

Mondays: 4:00-4:30PM Please email me to schedule Zoom meeting

Tuesdays: 2:00-2:30PM in my office (1506D) or Please email me to schedule Zoom meeting

Wednesdays: 5:15-5:45PM in my office (1506D) or Please email me to schedule Zoom meeting

Thursdays: 2:00-2:30PM in my office (1506D) or Please email me to schedule Zoom meeting

Master of Arts in Child Development and Early Childhood Curriculum Development

With Cabrillo College since 2001

When I was in Kindergarten I came home each day and taught my younger sister Lynn, everything I had learned that day at school! It seems that, as a 5-year old, I knew that my life's work was to be a teacher!

When I went to College I planned to study English and be a writer, but after taking my first Psychology class I realized that I wanted to learn everything I could about how the brain works, perception, social and emotional development, cognition, attention, motivation and more!

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
– William Butler Yeats


Then, as I prepared to graduate with my BA in Psychology, I had no idea what I was going to do next, when a friend introduced me to the van den Berg Learning Center, the Lab School, located right there at SUNY New Paltz. I proceeded to apply for the teaching credential program, later completing my Pre-Student Teaching in a Montessori preschool, followed by Student Teaching in a 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade "Open Classroom" at the Lab School. These two experiences changed my life's path, as I realized my passion for teaching and for working with young children.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey

After graduating with my BA in Psychology, and an Elementary Education, with Early Childhood focus, Teaching credential, I took a cross country trip, and landed in San Francisco which became my first home in California. In San Francisco, I began working at a Montessori school, where I taught art classes.

My next stop on my teaching journey was a small private preschool in Daly City, where I worked with some remarkable Early Childhood professionals who helped me develop a teaching philosophy based on the work of Rudolf Dreikurs, who believed children (and all of us) need to feel a sense of belonging.

A few years later, I realized it was time to return to school. Having grown up on the East Coast, Teachers College, Columbia University had always been a dream school for me. I applied and began studying at Teachers College where I earned my Master’s Degree in Child Development and Early Childhood Curriculum Development.

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn." -Maya Angelou

I returned to California, where I had the opportunity to teach at the Stanford University, Bing Lab School. This was another powerful learning experience where I had the opportunity to work with preschool age children, and also to step into a mentoring role with student teachers (Stanford Psychology majors). I also had the opportunity to work with remarkable Early Childhood professionals at Bing, who helped me to refine my teaching philosophy, with a powerful emphasis on play as the best way to learn.

"Play is the exultation of the possible." ~Martin Buber

My next stop was to begin my own family, with my husband and life partner. I gave birth to our son and three years later, our daughter was born.

I then worked as the Master Teacher in the Toddler classroom of the San Jose State University Lab School. There, I worked with 2-3 year old children and student teachers (SJSU Child & Adolescent Development majors). This was an incredible opportunity to learn more about toddlers, and I was fortunate to have my own children, as 2-year-olds, in my Toddler classroom.

San Jose State was also where I began teaching adult classes. I began teaching for both the Child & Adolescent Development and the Elementary Education Departments.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” ~Rumi

Following a move to Santa Cruz County, I began teaching for the Early Childhood Education Department at Cabrillo College as an adjunct faculty member. Joining the Cabrillo ECE Department made me feel like I had come home! I immediately had a sense of belonging, and knew I wanted to teach here and be part of this amazing program for the foreseeable future!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

A few years later, I had the opportunity to become a full-time faculty member in the ECE Department here at Cabrillo College. It is an honor and a privilege to have served for many years as a faculty member and as Department Chair for the Cabrillo College Early Childhood Education Department and to have worked closely with the amazing staff of the Cabrillo College Children's Center & Lab School.

"Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning and how to learn." -Loris Malaguzzi