Lieny Jeon, an associate professor, researcher, and expert in early childhood education, will become the first Jeffrey A. Grigg Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education. The professorship, the school’s first fully endowed position, is named in honor of the late Jeffrey Alexander Grigg, an assistant professor and noted education researcher who passed away in 2019 from a rare disease of the central nervous system.
“Jeffrey and I worked together on a number of projects. I miss him,” Jeon said. “When I first heard about it, I became very emotional. I was excited, but at the same time, it is sad for me to to see his name on this professorship. His death was a shock, but it is a fitting way to honor his legacy, his influence, and the time we spent together.”
The two- to four-year renewable professorship will support Jeon’s research by supplementing a significant portion of her salary, directly funding her research, and providing a stipend for a doctoral student to assist in her studies. Endowed funding is a boon to a researcher like Jeon, lifting the burden of raising funds to focus time and attention on the research.
The Grigg Professorship was endowed by Jeffrey Grigg’s father, Douglas Grigg, and an anonymous donor. It supports the recognition, recruitment, and/or retention of a promising School of Education faculty member whose primary focus is research and who is still relatively early in his or her professional career. Selected in 2017 as an AREA-SRCD Early Career Fellow in Early Childhood Education and Development, Jeon seemed an ideal first choice.
“Lieny Jeon is a top-notch educator and researcher whose leadership and expertise are driving the conversation about important topics in early childhood education that have not always gotten the attention they deserve,” said Christopher Morphew, dean of the School of Education, who selected Jeon for the recognition. “I look forward to seeing what she is able to accomplish with the full weight of the Grigg Professorship behind her.”
Jeon’s research focuses specifically on the mental health of early childhood educators and daycare providers, among the lowest paid of education professionals. Burnout is common and turnover is high. Few early childhood educators stay in the field long.
“I plan to focus more intently on these educators’ resilience and well-being in their professional lives and, ideally, to learn how we can retain more of these important, but overworked educators in the field,” Jeon says.