Meet Our Alumni
Diane Dodge, Bank Street Graduate School of Education alum and founder of the Diane Trister Dodge Early Childhood Education Scholarshipand founder of the

Diane Dodge

Early Childhood General Education '70

If you take a genuine interest in each child, listen and respond to their questions and ideas, and build on their strengths, you have the start of a real teaching relationship.

In 2022, Bank Street alumna Diane Dodge and her husband Lowell Dodge made a pledge that created the Diane Trister Dodge Early Childhood Education Scholarship, which will fund early childhood education graduate students who plan to work in high-need neighborhoods. 

“Diane and Lowell’s gift to Bank Street is a wonderful tribute to the teaching profession,” notes Bank Street President, Shael Polakow-Suransky. “Diane fully understands the significance of quality early childhood education, and she is inspiring a whole new generation of teachers with this gift.”

Throughout Diane’s multifaceted career as an early childhood educator, advocate, and business leader, one truth has remained: “Children learn in the context of relationships,” she said.

Diane explains, “If you take a genuine interest in each child, listen and respond to their questions and ideas, and build on their strengths, you have the start of a real teaching relationship.”

A graduate of the class of 1970, Diane has guided all of her work as a teacher, trainer, curriculum developer, business leader, and early childhood education advocate with a relationship-centered approach. She founded Teaching Strategies in 1988, led the company for 24 years, and built it into the nation’s largest early childhood education publisher.

“It all began with a filmstrip…”

Diane began her teaching career at the 92nd Street Y Nursery School while also attending Bank Street classes in the evenings. 

“At Bank Street, I learned important theories from inspiring professors,” she noted. “At the 92nd Street Y, I could put those theories into practice.” 

Diane moved to Mississippi and applied for a teaching position with a new Head Start program that served 900 children. She recalls, “I remember being told: You can’t be a teacher. You are probably the only person in Mississippi with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. We need you to create the education program and train the teachers.

“Thus began my career as a trainer and curriculum developer. The teachers in this program came from the community, many didn’t have a high school degree, but they were eager to learn, and passionately devoted to helping their children be ready to succeed in school. I was able to take what I learned at Bank Street and make it very concrete and easy to understand for the teachers. I started with room arrangement, what children learn in each interest area, and how to promote their learning through hands-on experiences.”

Diane created hundreds of handouts for the training she provided on every aspect of teaching that she wanted the teachers to understand and know how to do. She typed them on an IBM Selectric typewriter and ran them through the mimeograph machine to share with teachers.  These pages, which described the education and training program she had created for Head Start, became the appendix of her Bank Street master’s thesis.

In 1970, Diane moved to Washington, DC and continued her work with Head Start. She became fascinated by the profound effect of the physical environment of a classroom on children’s behavior. She started taking pictures of classrooms before and after she helped teachers rearrange them and used the slides at workshops and conference presentations. She also pulled together training she created on the interest areas and created four booklets: Blocks, Table Toys, Art, and House Corner. As Head Start expanded across the country, more and more teachers and other trainers asked for her materials. Diane sent requests to a number of well-known publishers, but none were interested in publishing her materials. “I said to my husband, these publishers don’t know what they are talking about. I know early childhood programs would use these resources.”

So in 1978, Diane self-published a filmstrip, Room Arrangement as a Teaching Strategy, and the first edition of The Creative Curriculum. She named her nascent publishing endeavor Teaching Strategies and started working full-time from her basement. The company grew quickly, and over the next several decades, Teaching Strategies added key components, such as authentic assessment tools, booklets for families, and distance learning opportunities. Today, Teaching Strategies reaches over 15 million students including 90 percent of Head Start programs. In 2010, the Association of Educational Publishers inducted Diane into their Hall of Fame for her Lifetime Achievements in Educational Publishing.

After traveling across the country and the world inspiring early childhood educators, Diane decided she wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren. She retired from Teaching Strategies in 2012, and her family subsequently created philanthropic ways to carry forward the mission and vision of Teaching Strategies. 

“We fund programs that have innovative ways of helping children from low-income families to be successful, and we promote the early childhood profession,” she explains.

President Polakow-Suransky said, “We couldn’t be happier to have Diane in the Bank Street community. As we prepare more early childhood educators and advance a policy agenda that promotes pay equity, Diane Dodge’s partnership is central.”