Laitinen, Valeria, Director of Early Childhood, JK-Grade 2

Valeria Laitinen earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Harvard College, a Master’s degree in International Educational Leadership through Endicott University, and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Ms. Laitinen was born and raised in Milan, Italy until the age of 13 and moved to Newton, Massachusetts for high school.

Ms. Laitinen has taught in international schools in Slovakia, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine and in a Title I school in Springfield, Virginia. She has used the rich cultural and linguistic diversity in each of her classrooms to promote open-mindedness and empathy.

Ms. Laitinen is passionate about creating a culture of thinking and has used visible thinking strategies and routines from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education's Project Zero in the classroom. She is trained in Responsive Classroom, a classroom management approach that is designed to create a classroom community in which students feel safe, challenged, and supported and has run book studies and trainings for faculty in this area. Ms. Laitinen has led staff development sessions on Growth Mindset, effective teacher language, and inquiry. Growth Mindset is an educational theory that emphasizes that all students can learn through dedication and hard work and promotes resilience by encouraging students to take academic risks and learn through their mistakes. 

Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Laitinen worked on promoting democratic practices and free and fair elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, and Bangladesh through internationally funded NGOs. In Bangladesh, Ms. Laitinen also designed and taught a course on resume writing and interviewing skills at East-West University and served as a study abroad advisor in The American Center in Dhaka. In addition to English, Ms. Laitinen speaks Italian, French, Russian, a little German, and is eagerly learning Greek.