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Meet HighScope Hero

Meet HighScope Hero


An Inspired Life, a Stellar Career, and the Road Ahead

for Children with Special Needs
Highlands, New Jersey

For nearly 50 years, Amy Goerl has dedicated her life to uplifting, inspiring, and educating young children with special needs, not only as a speech therapist, but also as a HighScope-certified pre-K teacher. Amy began her professional career in 1970 as a speech therapist in the Middletown Township New Jersey School District, and in 1983, she began teaching students with disabilities in that district. It was at this time that she discovered HighScope.

“I taught myself HighScope by attending as many workshops as I could in New Jersey,” says Amy. “I fell in love with the principles and practices because HighScope empowers our youngest learners to take initiative and stay engaged in their purposeful explorations. Every child thrives when meaningfully engaged, and with students with special needs the first goal is to engage them.”

During her tenure with Middleton Township schools, Amy established the district’s first program for preschoolers with disabilities, in which she implemented the HighScope curriculum model and created successful parent engagement programs. While she found her work on this program rewarding, Amy longed to extend opportunities for learning to even more children with special needs.

In 1990, Amy co-founded The Children’s Center of Monmouth County in Neptune, New Jersey. As the Center’s co-founder and supervisor of instruction, Amy hired and trained its staff, established a curriculum, and implemented a pre-K educational program founded on the HighScope principles. When the Children’s Center opened, 11 children ranging in age from three to ten enrolled; however, when Amy left in 2000, enrollment had surpassed 350 students.

After her time at the Center, Amy went on to serve as the Director in Early Childhood in Keansburg, New Jersey, overseeing a state-funded preschool program that served 280 preschoolers in 21 classrooms, all of which implemented the HighScope Curriculum. She also spoke and presented at ECE conferences in the U.S. and abroad.

“I have been at this for a really long time, and I’m still working because I really like what I do.”

Amy cherishes her relationship with HighScope — one that has grown over the years. For decades, Amy has been a passionate advocate for HighScope as a HighScope trainer, field consultant, and a past board member.

It was Dr. Sue Bredekamp, HighScope Board Emeritus and renowned ECE specialist, who nominated Amy, writing “I served with Amy on the Board of HighScope for eight years, and I have the utmost respect for her as an early childhood educator, advocate, professional, and colleague. Amy epitomizes the HighScope philosophy and has been highly effective in applying and adapting its principles to serving children with disabilities and special needs. Her goals for children are entirely in sync with the HighScope mission.”

At age 72, Amy officially retired this year, but she is not slowing down — it might even be said that she is just getting started. Currently, Amy is focusing on supporting the parents of children with disabilities who are coping with the challenges associated with remote learning. She is also a consultant in early childhood special education, providing services to public preschools, Head Start classrooms, and community-based childcare programs throughout New Jersey. She continues to support HighScope by conducting Zoom training sessions during the pandemic.

Of her new status as a HighScope Hero, Amy says, “I have been at this for a really long time, and I’m still working because I really like what I do. I will continue to advocate for HighScope and its communal spirit of doing what is best for the kids.”