Professional Learning Team

Allison Barness     Allison Barness, Ed.D., Assistant Professor

Allison Barness began her career teaching early childhood education as a preschool, kindergarten, first grade and Reading Recovery teacher at Malcolm Price Laboratory School. Through her time as a classroom teacher, Allison learned from the experts at the Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education and quickly became enamored with STEM education. Throughout this time she pursued her MA in Early Childhood Education and continued to work closely with the center. At the closure of the school in 2012, she transitioned to teaching university students and began her work towards a doctorate degree. Her dissertation focused on early childhood professional learning.  Allison is an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and her current research interests include professional learning, social and emotional development, and integrated STEM and literacy in PreK-2.   

Tara Condon     Tara Condon, MAE, Program Assistant

Tara Condon, MAE, began her work with the Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education as an undergraduate student at UNI in 2003, serving students at the Freeburg Early Childhood Program.  In 2006, she began her teaching career as lead kindergarten teacher at Freeburg where she focused on implementing a STEM based, constructivist curriculum.  Her experiences and connections at UNI lead her to Okayama, Japan when she taught young Japanese children English through STEM, specifically ramps and pathways.  During her time in Japan, she was afforded many opportunities to visit elementary schools all around the world and work with educators for many different countries.  Experiences that were made possible because of UNI. Tara has spent the last 11 years in Des Moines, Iowa where she currently serves as an instructional coach in Des Moines Public Schools.  She continues to support the University of Northern Iowa in her work as a professional development instructor for the Iowa Regents’ Center.    

Sherri Peterson     Sherri Peterson, MS, MA, Program Coordinator

Sherri Peterson brings nearly four decades of experience in early childhood to the center’s work. Holding a BS in Child Development and an MS in Family and Consumer Science from Iowa State University and an MA in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Iowa, she has worked as an early childhood teacher, lead teacher, STEM coach, and preschool instructional coach in a large urban school district and as an early childhood special education teacher, Early ACCESS Coordinator, and ECSE consultant for an area education agency in northwest Iowa. Peterson is an advocate for developmentally appropriate practice and inclusive learning environments for all children and currently developing STEM professional learning for teachers of infants and toddlers and implementing STEM professional learning opportunities for early childhood teachers in Iowa. She regularly presents at state, local, and national conventions.