Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Birgit Monks empowers early childhood professionals

Dr. Birgit Monks

Dr. Birgit Monks is the program chair for Union Institute & University’s Early Childhood Education and Adolescent Development and the California Teacher Permit Certificate Programs. She believes in high-quality education opportunities to empower and educate early childhood professionals. Dr. Monks values diversity and social justice and is engaged in several professional early childhood organizations where she advocates for equity and equal opportunities for children and adults.

Read about her enthusiasm for teaching, find out what her favorite movie is, and her go-to-quote in the Q&A below.

Q. What do you teach?

A. I teach courses in early childhood education and adolescent development, including concentration courses in early childhood studies, early childhood special education, and teacher as practitioner for the B.S. program in Early Childhood Education and Adolescent Development, as well as Schools, Society, and Culture in the Ed.D.

Q. Discuss your passion for teaching

A. I love my students and my biggest reward is when I can make a difference in the life of a student, whether it is a child or an adult. I enjoy continuous learning and teaching enables me to constantly gain new knowledge, discover new research, and to learn from the experiences of my students. Every time I teach, I learn something new. I enjoy seeing my students’ progress and how they start to understand early childhood theories and how they connect to real life.

Q. Why do you teach at Union?

A. I love teaching at Union Institute & University because of its mission and focus on social justice and diversity, which is my passion. I strongly believe social justice is important to promote fairness and equity across society and we can learn so much from each other when we embrace diversity.

Q. What is your favorite movie?

A. I love the movie the Freedom Writers Diary, filmed after the book by Erin Gruwell. It is about a young teacher who teaches at risk students, who were deemed incapable of learning. Although the teacher had to overcome many obstacles trying to support the students, she was committed and persistent and did not give up. She believed in her students and was able to inspire them, giving them hope, and sparked their interest in planning their future and a better life.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

A. “Yesterday, I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi

Q. If you could make one change in this world, what would it be?

A. I would eliminate the division and hate we are experiencing in this world. I would replace division and hate with love and understanding for each other.

About Dr. Monks

Dr. Monks holds a Bachelor’s and Master of Arts degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, CA. She received an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA. Her dissertation was on increasing capacity. She studied the behaviors of adults who become aware of their own lack of knowledge or skills that prevent them from successfully engaging in tasks or activities at work.

While completing a degree in social pedagogy in her native country Germany, she worked with adolescents who had physical and mental disabilities and spent about 10 years with the Youth Welfare Department, where she also worked with typically developing young children. Her passion for quality programs for school-age children led her to develop and administer afterschool settings.

Dr. Monks also directed a state and federally Toddler and State Preschool program at a Community College for many years. The preschool served about 150 children from primarily low-income families and employed students who were child development mayors to gain work experience in the field.

Currently, in addition to being program chair, Dr. Monks is a certified trainer for the Program for Infant Toddler Care, P.I.T.C. and a Director Mentor through the California Early Childhood Mentor Program. She is also a member and peer assessor for the accreditation of programs of higher education with the National Association for the Education of Young Children, NAEYC, member of Every Child California, and Association of Leaders Advancing Early Learning, and the Community College Early Childhood Educators, CCCECE and will present a workshop session on The Effects of COVID on Mental Well Being and Relationships in Early Childhood Education at the annual Zero to Three Conference in September of 2022.

View more of Dr. Monks biography here.

Your dream to impact children is attainable. Learn more at the Union Institute & University Bachelor of Science with a major in Early Childhood Education & Adolescent Development degree today.