I taught elementary school in Philadelphia for five years as I got my Master's and teacher certificate from Temple. Having become interested in the role of language in reading continued my studies at Harvard's Graduate School of Education where I got my doctorate. I lived in the Boston area for 30 years, was married to Mary Fischer for 23 years and fathered two daughters who later attended Oberlin. I began a longitudinal research project with Catherine Snow examining factors that support language learning in the preschool years and the long-term effects of early language on later literacy among children from low-income homes. I moved to Nashville in 2005 where I have been on the faculty at Vanderbilt have held an an endowed Chair and served as Associate Dean. I have continued to study the language environments of preschool classrooms and the role of language in later reading, and have developed methods of helping teachers more effectively foster language learning. I will retire Dec., 2020. With Ann Morse I recently co-authored Connecting Through Talk: Nurturing Children's Development with Language, Brookes Publishing.
As a newly arrived Freshman I was eager to join in the protests again the war in Vietnam and joined protests against the naval recruitment efforts on campus. I was among the students who blocked the car from proceeding and got a taste of tear gas.
During winter term of my sophomore year I was in an experimental dance group led by a dance instructor who had been at the Esalen Institute in CA. She directed us in a nigh time performance in Peters hall in which we all performed naked.