Ryan has more than 25 years of experience in the field of education, with 20+ years of that being in leadership and management roles. Starting off as a first grade basketball coach, Ryan has built his career as an innovative and well-respected early childhood and school-age educator. His passion for working with children, teachers, and families combined with his engaging stories of past experiences translate into powerful, inspiring, and informative guidance for others.
After earning a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education Administration and Leadership from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Ryan cofounded the U School in Ann Arbor, MI where he has served as the Executive Director for 8 years. He is also the cofounder and Managing Partner of Ubuntu Communities, continuing to serve as Lead Trainer to offer training and consulting opportunities to early childhood organizations and educators around the world.
Positions and professional involvement:
- Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education Administration and Leadership from The University of Michigan-Dearborn
- Current member of Washtenaw Community College Early Childhood Education Advisory Committee
- Cofounder and current Executive Director at the U School
- Cofounder, Managing Partner, and current Lead Trainer of Ubuntu Communities
- Early Childhood Education Lecturer/Student Supervisor at UM-Dearborn
- Transitional Toddler Teacher at Allen Creek Preschool
- Lead pre-kindergarten teacher at Bright Horizons (NAEYC accredited center) in Redwood City, CA. At Bright Horizons, Ryan was recognized by his peers, families, and school leaders with awards such as The Family Partnership Award, The Rising Star Award, and the Teamwork Award
- Director of Green Adventures Camp, an Ann Arbor Public Schools/Rec & Ed summer academic enrichment camp
- Supervisor of Ann Arbor Public Schools before, kindergarten, and after school child care programs
- YMCA Early Childhood Sports Supervisor
- Loving husband of Hannah Brown and father of three boys (16 years, 12 years, and 6 years old)
Francesca was born and raised in South Africa, and moved to Ann Arbor in 2015 for college. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, focusing her coursework on developmental and educational psychology. Through those courses she discovered a growing passion for Early Childhood Education. Francesca started teaching at the U School shortly after graduating to explore the field and gain more hands-on classroom experience. A few months later, she joined the Ubuntu Communities team. Through her role as Program Coordinator, she manages behind-the-scenes tasks for training events and provides logistical support to trainers. A few years later, and her commitment to this field (and these organizations!) has only deepened. Inspired by her mentors and colleagues, Francesca completed a Master of Arts in ECE Administration and Leadership at UM-Dearborn. She is excited to continue helping promote Ubuntu Communities and increase its value for fellow educators and organizations serving children, while also continuing to gain valuable years of experience supporting young children in the classroom at the U School to deepen her knowledge of early childhood curriculum development and pedagogy.
Charlie is the Lead Teacher of a 3- and 4-year-old classroom at the U School, and has been a classroom teacher of various ages since 2002. Charlie’s mindfulness coaching has been ongoing since 2013 after taking teaching courses from Shinzen Young. Charlie has helped people apply mindfulness to work- or family-related stress, to process chronic pain, to interact with more compassion, to break down mental habits or “tape loops,” to improve interactions between teachers and students, and more. His current focus is developing mindfulness trainings for parents, educators, and preschoolers through his roles as teacher and trainer for Ubuntu Communities.
Lauren Roy has been serving in early childhood for over eleven years! She graduated with honors from the University of Michigan–Dearborn with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and holds Early Childhood endorsements (General and Special education). The Reggio Emilia Approach has captured Lauren’s heart as it validates children’s capabilities and partnership in the learning process through child-centered learning experiences. Children share what they know, not only with their voices, but also through the hundred languages of representation. Children draw, paint, sculpt, sing, move their bodies to tell stories of what they know about the world around them. This dialogue is such a beautiful exchange that holds such incredible value, especially when adults learn how to listen to their gifts in a collaborative setting. Lauren’s passion for Art as Language and inquiry-based learning in early childhood is what led her into the role as Art Studio Teacher and Pedagogy Coach at the U School, and then trainer for Ubuntu Communities.