Martha Bennett '73 Professor Emeritus of Human Development
With Connecticut College: 1972-2007
B.A., Sociology, Connecticut College; M.S., Special Education, Southern Connecticut State College; Ph.D., Special Education, University of Connecticut
Play and development
Public spaces and natural settings
Infant massage and touch therapies
Professor Sheridan retired from Connecticut College in 2007. Her interests focus on issues that support and challenge children's development within the complexity of our contemporary world. She believes that positive development can and does continue even within the context of physical, mental, and social challenges. She teaches Individual Differences in Learning and Children in Learning Environments.
Her courses explored how children and adults interact in a wide range of settings, and how both children and adults can learn, take advantage of their personal strengths, and maximize their adaptability and resilience.
Throughout her teaching, Sheridan tied theory to application in community settings, either in the Human Development Department’s Children's Program or in a wide range of locations in the local New London community. Under her supervision students have examined multiple environments to see how children learn in settings both in and outside of the traditional classroom. Playgrounds, parks and other public spaces, museums, medical and rehabilitation settings in the New London area, in other US cities, and in several foreign countries have been considered.
Sheridan co-authored (with Gilbert Foley and Sara Radlinski) Using the Supportive Play Model: Individualized Intervention in Early Childhood Practice (Columbia Teachers College Press). The approach described in the book encourages emotional and self-development in a family-focused and relationship-centered format where play is a major mode of learning in the child and a mode of contact between the child and the adult.
Sheridan has published case studies and articles in educational and medical journals, including the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, Early Child Development and Care, Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, and the International Journal of Early Childhood. In addition, she and student scholars and colleagues have made over 30 presentations at conferences throughout the United States and abroad including two at UNICEF training conferences in China and one at a study tour in Cuba.
Sheridan served on numerous local and state boards, is a former Director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, and then served as member of the Center’s advisory board. Her energies were also focused on administration and fund acquisition for her department's Children's Program. She also has been focused on the goal of returning this fully inclusive preschool to a site on the central college campus.