July 19, 2019

EDC Marks Passing of Colleague Nancy Clark-Chiarelli

A tireless advocate for children and families in challenging circumstances

Nancy Clark-Chiarelli, EDC senior research scientist and a beloved member of the EDC community for 22 years, passed away on July 15. She was 65.

Clark-Chiarelli was dedicated to education—as a student, a teacher, and a researcher—for her entire life. After joining EDC in 1997, she led innovative early literacy and science work that spanned EDC’s U.S. and International Development Divisions, positively impacting hundreds of thousands of young children and teachers in high-need communities across the United States and around the world.

Her brilliance as a researcher, respect for teachers, and commitment to improving early learning forged a unique and innovative body of work at EDC. Her warmth, irreverent sense of humor, and support for her colleagues were highly valued. She was a mentor to many EDC staff and a guiding force in strengthening EDC’s early reading and basic education work worldwide.

“Nancy was a fierce champion for all children and an absolutely tireless advocate for children and families in challenging circumstances,” said EDC President David Offensend. “In the words of one of her many appreciative colleagues, ‘Nancy’s life was filled with purpose, and she made a difference to children around the world’.”

As the principal investigator of several large U.S. Department of Education-funded studies, Clark-Chiarelli led efforts to give Head Start teachers the tools and support they needed to prepare children to thrive in school. She was a leader of EDC’s work in science for young children and passionate about helping all children develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. In her international work, she was an architect of the Read Right Now (RRN) approach to improve the teaching and learning of reading in the early grades. Most recently, for the Nigeria Northern Education Initiative Plus, she helped lead the design of the first-ever early grade reading curriculum and teaching materials in Hausa and English.

Before Clark-Chiarelli joined EDC, she taught in the Lincoln Public Schools, and she remained an educator at heart. She earned her master’s degree and doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and for many years combined her role as a researcher at EDC with teaching and mentoring graduate students at Simmons College in Boston and at Wheelock College’s programs in Boston and Singapore.

If you would like to join EDC in honoring Nancy Clark-Chiarelli, please visit her online Memory Wall and share your condolences, memories, and tributes. Relatives and friends are invited to visiting hours at the Acton Funeral Home, 470 Massachusetts Avenue, Acton, MA, on Sunday, July 21, 1–5 p.m. The funeral service will be held Monday, July 22, 11 a.m., at the funeral home.