Early Childhood Consulting

We provide expertise, customized training and development, assessment and coaching, planning and resources for your educators, professionals, programs, and families in areas foundational to serving preschool and early grades children.

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Designing Learning Experiences for Children

Our Approach

A developmentally appropriate curriculum and classroom for children (birth to grade three) focuses on activities and engagement for children that will support their social emotional needs and well-being. In order to successfully support learning experiences for these ages, we focus on evidence-based practices and skills that support the intersection of social emotional learning, social justice and equity, and family engagement. Development and change are most sustainable when training includes follow-up practice, observation, and coaching – and happens across multiple levels in the organization (leadership as well as front-line educators).


CES has extensive experience working with EEC-certified providers as well as public school and district based educators at the pre-K through early grades level.

We have also developed deep experience with engaging and supporting families and their little ones, and we’ve partnered with a wide array of community services organizations to develop strong and supportive networks for family needs. CES partners with the Pyramid Consortium, with BHN to provide ECMH consultation, and has managed statewide training programs. CES also manages 16 CFCE Family Centers and playgroups sponsored by the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grant funded by the Department of Early Education and Care. 

Teacher playing with two children in the sand.

The training helped me to remember that one of the first questions I want to ask families, when I sit down, virtually or otherwise, to meet with them – “what is it that you want for your child?”


Early Educator 


Program Evaluation, Design, and Support

We provide expertise, program evaluation and design, training and coaching, planning and resources in areas foundational to serving preschool and early grades children. We will help you to build a program with the tools to help all of our students to be successful, including those who exhibit the most challenging behaviors. Training and coaching support is customized and based on your specific program goals and evaluation, and delivered at a pace that makes sense for your program.

Customized Professional Development

We offer a range of tailored professional development, team and individualized coaching, and technical assistance that can be brought on site to your location for educators, teacher leaders, administrators, and paraeducators. 

  • Trauma-Informed Classrooms and Teaching
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • Family Engagement: culturally responsive communication and relationship building
  • Developmentally Appropriate Play and Learning
  • Age-appropriate Social Justice and Equity, community and curriculum for early learners
  • Early Literacy
  • Inclusive Classrooms

Pyramid Model Implementation Coaching

The Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children helps early educators build skills for supporting nurturing and responsive caregiving, create learning environments, provide targeted social-emotional skills, and support children with challenging behavior. CES offers coaching support for implementing this positive behavioral intervention and support (PBIS) framework.. 

School Readiness Institute

The School Readiness Institute: Strengthening Pre-K and K Experiences to Support School Readiness

This one year Institute is ideally designed for teams of 3-5 educators and one school leader from the participating school. The Institute model is designed to support sustainable implementation toward your goals including professional development sessions, monthly individualized team coaching, and participation in monthly PLC sessions.

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

The Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) Early Childhood Program offers Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMH) Services for Hampshire and Franklin Counties through our subcontract with Behavioral Health Network (BHN) in Springfield, funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

Inclusive Classrooms and Communities

CES will support you to identify and support young children with disabilities in inclusive settings, and ensuring FAPE. CES also collaborated with the MA EEC and MA DESE to develop the Building Inclusive Communities (BIC) Series, and administered the Building Equitable Supports for Children with Disabilities initiative, designed to help school districts by creating a professional community that centers equitable support as a key to successful inclusion in their early childhood programs.

Free Resources and Past Projects

Please visit our growing list of free resource links from our past projects and programs for early educators.

Early Childhood Consulting Team

Emily Koester

Emily Koester, M.Ed, ECMH-E® has over 25 years of experience working with children and families in both schools and the community. As the former CPC Coordinator in Gill-Montague, Emily may be a familiar face for those in Franklin County. With a background in special education, she has taught in an integrated preschool, and also worked as a bi-lingual (Spanish) Early Intervention Developmental Specialist. More recently, Emily was an Intensive Care Coordinator, supporting families dealing with mental health challenges at Clinical & Support Options in Greenfield. Emily is the mother of 3. When she is not at work or with her children, she may be found volunteering on environmental causes around the valley. She is excited to be a member of the Early Childhood team, working with our region’s youngest learners.

Position: Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant and Pyramid Model Coach

Email: ekoester@collaborative.org

Phone: 413.247.4644

Vanessa Pashkoff

Vanessa Pashkoff is the Early Childhood Mental Health Programs Coordinator at CES. Vanessa has over fifteen years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education. Vanessa is a teacher – learner, family partner, and advocate for young children. She is committed to anti-bias education, social emotional development, and learning through play. In addition to her work in the classroom, Vanessa has spent recent years as an Instructional Coach in Springfield, MA and Early Childhood Trainer and Consultant. While Vanessa was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, she currently lives in Western MA with her partner, two children, and cat named Pumpernickel.

Position: Early Childhood Mental Health Program Coordinator

Email: vpashkoff@collaborative.org

Desirée Lalbeharie-Josias

Desirée earned both her Bachelor’s degree in Education and Child Study and her Master’s degree in Education of the Deaf from Smith College. She completed her doctoral studies at University of Massachusetts-Amherst in Special Education with a focus on Early Intervention.  

Desirée Lalbeharie-Josias’ career includes working with young children, with and without developmental delays or special needs, and their families; early intervention clinical and management roles; college level teaching; professional development trainings; and facilitating community partnerships. Her 25 year career has been dedicated to the field of early childhood development and education in the context of family, social-justice and public health issues.

Position: Director of Early Childhood

Email: dlalbehariejosias@collaborative.org

Phone: 413.586.4900 x5561

Michelle Mendes

Michelle Mendes began her career in Early Childhood as a teacher of young children across multiple settings including childcare programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers and as an elementary school substitute teacher. Her interest in child development led her to the field of Early Intervention where she supported children birth to age three and their families in Hampden and Hampshire Counties for 15 years. She is joining CES from Family Empowerment (a program of Pathlight) where she managed two Family Support Centers serving families connected to the Department of Developmental Services in Hampshire and Franklin Counties. Her responsibilities there included: program development, organization, budgeting, and assuring adherence to state policies and regulations; staff supervision; hosting workshops, trainings and family events; establishing collaborations and relationships with outside agencies, community partners; leading the advisory council; assisting families in identifying needs and resources, and more. While not working, Michelle enjoys traveling, walking along the oceans’ shores, and spending time with family and friends. 

Position: CFCE & PC+ Coordinator

Email: mmendes@collaborative.org

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