Catherine Main

Educational Psychology Faculty Affiliate

Catherine Main is a senior lecturer and program coordinator in the College of Education and a visiting scholar on the Early Investments Initiative with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at the University of Illinois.

She earned a BS degree in Finance and Economics from Marquette University in 1987 and a M.Ed. degree in Instructional Leadership from UIC in 1992.  She has more 25 years of work on behalf of young children and their families in the state of Illinois.  Her work at the UIC College of Education has included innovative and responsive program development and coordination in Early Childhood Education. Main designed and developed a Blended Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education program and an Early Childhood Alternative Licensure program.  Both programs were the first of their kind approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and both reflect a focused, much needed, response to specific demands for early childhood teachers in Chicago. Currently she is also the principal investigator (PI) the McCormick Foundation on an Early Childhood Workforce grant where she co-leads the Illinois team on the Innovation to Incubation (i2I) project with the National Academy Medicine (NAM) and the co-PI on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group Foundation grant, Math Access for Teachers and Family Child Care Providers. She regularly presents her work at national conferences and as an invited speaker at local conferences.  She also serves on several advisory groups and boards including the Illinois Early Learning Council Program Standards and Quality Committee, the Chicago Community College Child Development & Human Services Program Advisory Board, and is a member of the Illinois Articulation Initiative Early Childhood panel.  She is co-chair of the Illinois Higher Education Learning and Professional Development Work Group, President of the Illinois Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators (ILAECTE) and a member of the board for Chicago Youth Centers. 


University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois

Master of Education- Instructional Leadership with a specialization in Early Childhood Education, Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL) with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education (May, 1992)

Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Bachelor of Science- Business Administration with specializations in Economic and Finance (May, 1987)

Research & Teaching Interests

Main developed and administers the Blended Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education Program, which prepares teachers to work with all children regardless of ability and ages birth to 8 years of age, and the Early Childhood Early Certification Program. She primarily provides in-school instruction for teacher candidates. She teaches courses that emphasize collaborating with families, community members, and professionals for early childhood and special education, teaches primary grade methods courses and student teaching seminars in early childhood education.

Selected Publications

Göncü, A., Main, C., Tozer, S. & Perrone, A. (October 2012) Crossing the Boundaries:  The Need to Integrate School Leadership and Early Childhood Education. UIC Research in Urban Education Policy Initiative. Chicago, Il: University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chatman-Nelson, C., Main, C., and Kushto-Hoban, J. (June 2012) Breaking it down and building it out:  Enhancing collective capacity to improve early childhood teacher preparation in Illinois.  Chicago, Il: University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Göncü, A., Main, C., Abel, B. (2010). Children’s play and its educational significance. Human Development, 6-8.

Göncü, A., Main, C. & Abel, B. (2009). Fairness in Participation in Preschool In D. Berthelsen., J. Brownlee, J., & E. Johansson, E. (Eds.) Participatory learning in the early years. (pp, 185-202). New York: Routledge.

Honors & Awards

Recipient of 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago

Recipient of 2014 Chicago Metro Association of the Education of Young Children (CMAEYC) Service Award

Featured alumnae speaker, Ignatian Women Shaping Education, St. Ignatius College Prep Women’s Council Dinner (September 2003).

Recipient of the 1999 Dean’s Merit Award, College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Featured teacher in the book Starting Small: Teaching Tolerance in Preschool and the Early Grades (1995).

Professional Affiliations & Activities

President, Illinois Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (ILAECTE) (April 2016 - present)

Coach, Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows, Erikson Institute (June 2016 – December 2017)

State team co-leader, National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Innovation to Incubation Project on Early Childhood workforce (October 2015- present)

Committee Member, Mayor’s Taskforce on Chicago Early Childhood Workforce (April 2016-present).

Co-Chair, Chicago Commons Pipeline Project (January 2016 – present).

Panel Member, Illinois Articulation Panel- Early Childhood Education, IBHE (March 2014 - present)

Co-Chair, Higher Education and Professional Development committee, Illinois Early Learning Council  (May 2013- present)

Board Member, Chicago Youth Centers, (March 2013- present)