Jill Jacobi-Vessels

Jill Jacobi-Vessels
Director of the Early Learning Campus and Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education
Department of Special Education, Early Childhood & Prevention Science
Scholar House Campus,409 Reg Smith Circle, Louisville, KY 40208
Office: 502-852-4581
jill.jacobi-vessels @ louisville.edu

Dr. Jacobi-Vessels' curriculum vita [PDF]


I hold a Ph. D. in teaching and learning with an emphasis in early childhood education and development and a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education. I have more than 35 years of experience directing and coordinating quality child development centers, children’s programs, and family support programs in private, public, and military settings. I have served as a faculty member in the UofL College of Education and Human Development, teaching undergraduate and graduate early childhood education courses. Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Early Learning Campus (ELC) at the University of Louisville. The ELC is an early child development center for children of UofL faculty, staff and students, and residents of the Louisville Scholar House. The ELC not only utilizes current research in its design, curriculum and approach to educating young children, but it also generates research that is instrumental in "raising the bar" for quality programming for young children. It is within the mission of the ELC to set standards of excellence for early childhood education as well as act as a resource to reach those standards.

As the Executive Director of the ELC, I facilitate training and observations for education majors from across campus as the ELC provides opportunities for student teaching for early childhood and education majors, as well helping ECEE students learn how to integrate their area of expertise with young children. I am also a member of National Coalition of Campus Children’s Centers, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Society for Research in Child Development. I continue to conduct early childhood development research across learning domains with an emphasis on kindergarten readiness through play-based learning.

Educational Background

  • PhD, Teaching and Learning, University of Louisville, 2008
  • MEd, Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education, University of Louisville, 2002
  • Overseas Study, Universitat Hamburg, Germany 1984-1985
  • BA, Speech/Theatre Minor: German, Indiana University Southeast, 1985

Research Interests

  • Early Childhood Education and Development
  • Kindergarten Readiness
  • Early Childhood Program Administration
  • Early Childhood Literacy
  • Early Childhood Mathematics and Science


  • Quantitative Approaches
  • Mixed-Methods

Professional Service

  • National Coalition of Campus Children’s Centers Board Member 2022
  • Family and Children’s Place Board Member 2022
  • Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Interactive Standards Website Co-Chair 2022
  • Governor’s Office of Early Childhood High Quality Workforce Committee 2021-2022
  • Prichard Committee Strong Start Policy and Planning Group, Member 2011-2022
  • Metro United Way Kindergarten Readiness Initiative 2014-2022

Professional Memberships

  • National Coalition of Campus Children’s Centers
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • North American Reggio Emilia Alliance

Selected Publications

  • Hardy, J., Pennington, R., Griffin, L. R., & Jacobi-Vessels, J. (2020). Comparing the effects of protagonist race on preschoolers’ engagement in book reading. Early Childhood Education Journal, 1-11.
  • Jacobi-Vessels, J. (2018). Playing to learn: The essential role of play in early childhood instruction. Imagine, 9, 32-37.
  • Detmer, M., Kern, P., Jacobi-Vessels, J., & King, K. (2017). Intergenerational music therapy: Bridging the generational gap through community-based music making. Proceedings of the 15th World Congress of Music Therapy, Special Issue of Music Therapy Today, 13, 219-220.
  • Wasik, B., & Jacobi-Vessels, J. (2017). Word play: Scaffolding language development through child-directed play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45, 769-776.
  • Jones, V.F., Brown, E.T., Molfese, V., Ferguson, M., Jacobi-Vessels, J., Bertsch, C., Abraham, T., & Winders Davis, D. (2015). The development and initial assessment of reach out and read plus mathematics for use in primary care pediatrics. Early Child Development and Care, 185, 694-708.
  • Jacobi- Vessels, J. L., (2017). The effects of a kindergarten readiness internship on in-service teacher sense of self efficacy. Joint Conference of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Atlanta, GA.
  • Jacobi-Vessels, J. L., & Ost, M. (2017). Much, much more than crayons and kiddie CDs: Rich art and music experiences on a budget. Kentucky Governor's Early Childhood Institute. Louisville, KY.
  • Jacobi-Vessels, J., Brown, E.T., Molfese, V.J., & Do, A. (2014). Teaching Preschoolers to Count: Effective Strategies for Achieving Early Mathematics Milestones. Early Childhood Education Journal, 44, 1-9.