GSE says goodbye to long-time early childhood instructor

Frank MahlerA memorial was held at Helen Gordon Child Development Center (HGCDC) on January 6 for our esteemed colleague, Frank Mahler, an instructor in the HGCDC. He passed away recently during the winter break. He was 45.

Frank was an infant-toddler teacher at HGCDC and in recent years, the Infant-Toddler Studio Lead and an instructor for the Early Childhood Master’s Program.

“Frank was an amazing teacher, both of young children, and of students in the early childhood master’s program,” says Director Ellie Justice. “Frank was known for his creativity and his extraordinary sense of humor, as well as his high standards and dedication to the early childhood field. This is a significant loss for our community.”

Remembrances may be made to Hands to Hearts International, a nonprofit that was near and dear to Frank’s heart.

Frank Gustaf Mahler (1967-2012)
By Christine Chaillé

Frank came from good Scandinavian stock, and is survived by his mother, Ula, and his brother, Mike, and sister-in-law, Brenda. He went to high school in Brookings, Oregon, then on to graduate from Western Oregon University in 1989 where he majored in Elementary Education. He worked in Head Start for many years, first at South Coast Head Start, and then Lane County Head Start, before moving to Portland in 1998 to work at Early Head Start.

It was probably this move that focused his work on infants and toddlers. In 2005, he came to the Helen Gordon Child Development Center and began work on his master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. He was in demand as a presenter at conferences locally, at the state and national level, and internationally. His beautiful narrative documentations told stories that captured the capabilities of young children, and illustrated the profound respect he had for children.

Through the master’s program, he gained experience co-teaching courses. After obtaining his degree in 2007, he began teaching in the program, first core courses–Child Development and Education, and Play: Early Childhood Curriculum. Online courses were added, which he both developed and taught, including Constructivist Curriculum: Big Ideas in Early Childhood Education, and Teaching and Learning with Competent Infants and Toddlers. He was an exemplary teacher, reflective and responsive to students, and masterful at facilitating learning. He also participated actively in the Graduate School of Education Early Childhood Program Committee, contributing substantially to the work of the committee.

In 2007, he and Christine Chaillé became involved in work for Hands to Hearts International, developing a curriculum on child development, initially for caregivers in orphanages in India, and now being used in other countries and other populations of vulnerable children and families. His expertise on infants and toddlers was vital to this work, and continues to have a long-lasting impact.

Frank traveled widely, both for personal enjoyment and for professional development, including two study tours to Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Frank had wide circles of friends and colleagues who saw in him a unique, brilliant, funny, thoughtful, and caring person. His impact on the people who knew him cannot be measured or described, but will be seen in the profound influence he has had on those who knew him.

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