MSU Institute Gets New Director

STARKVILLE, Miss.–Lynn Darling brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as the new director of Mississippi State’s Early Childhood Institute.

Interim director since 2011, she has worked for the ECI in different capacities for the past decade, including teaching, curriculum writing and coordinating training.

This varied background in a major unit of the university’s College of Education has helped her better understand the myriad challenges of working in the field, she said.

“I’ve experienced many of the things the staff also may face,” she added.

Darling is an Emory University anthropology graduate who went on to complete master’s and doctoral degrees in curriculum and instruction from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Even though she holds advanced degrees, she credits her time as a pre-kindergarten teacher at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, located at the Smithsonian Institution in the nation’s capital, with providing much of her knowledge in early childhood education.

“I learned everything I know at the Smithsonian; it really allowed me to put what I’d learned in theory into practice in the classroom,” she said.

The ECI was established in 1999 to provide training, technical assistance and applied research for improved quality and accessibility of early care and education across Mississippi. Located at 46 Blackjack Road, it offers statewide programs focusing on the improvement of quality of early childhood education for children from birth to pre-kindergarten.

Providing professional development for educators in the field and encouraging local communities to support young children are among other ECI missions. (For more information, visit

Darling succeeds Cathy Grace, who now serves as director of early childhood education for the Gilmore Foundation.

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