DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, JUSTICE, AND EQUITY
It is a great pleasure to introduce the second issue of the dije Expansions newsletter, which offers a platform for highlighting the progress of our work and a means for increasing transparency and connectedness across the entire SOE community. I want to thank Camille Wilson, Eloise Reid, and Dexter Moore Jr. for their efforts in writing and publishing this important tool.
I also want to express my gratitude to Camille Wilson, whose tenure as dije Implementation Lead draws to a close this academic year. It is under her poised and indefatigable leadership that we have made such great strides in advancing dije within the school, the university, and communities.
We have a great deal to highlight and to celebrate this year as dije becomes increasingly integrated in all that we do. We have expanded into more action-oriented and sustainable programming that challenges and supports; we have begun to engage in the difficult internal work necessary for realizing our vision as models and leaders of inclusive, just, and equitable education; and we are observing a marked shift in mindset as faculty, staff, and students from throughout the school step up as leaders, elevating our work by generating a multitude of tools for approaching dije, especially as we work to expand our own curriculum and pedagogical practices. Even as we recognize the considerable work ahead, we take this moment to acknowledge our many accomplishments in the course of the past year.
The advancement of diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity in the School of Education requires the contributions of each and every community member. I hope that as you read this issue, you will see yourself—either as an involved dije leader in 2017-2018, or as someone who is discovering the range of opportunities for getting involved in the coming year.
– Elizabeth Birr Moje, School of Education Dean
This second issue of Expansions highlights just of few of the many dynamic people, events, organizations, and partnerships that richly contribute to SOE’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity (dije). During the 2017-18 school year, the dije leadership team collaborated with numerous students, staff and faculty members to advance several major goals. These goals related to: expanding our organizational infrastructure to support and sustain our dije initiatives; increasing efforts to recruit a more diverse pool of students; enhancing staff equity and inclusion; increasing dije-based curriculum development; enhancing our School-wide dije programming; garnering additional funds to support student-designed, dije-based professional development initiatives; and expanding and deepening our local K-12 partnership efforts. We have made important progress in each of these areas and remain dedicated to continuing our efforts. Collectively, SOE’s dedication to dije is evident in numerous ways. Some ways include: the leadership and creativity exuded by student organizations, as overviewed in this issue’s student life profile; ongoing efforts to integrate attention to dije in course instruction, as discussed in the profile of the instructional leadership efforts of Associate Dean Shari Saunders; and through faculty members’ scholarship and advocacy, as highlighted in the profile of Assistant Professor Christina Weiland whose work focuses on increasing access to early childhood education.
The innovation and equity-based efforts of SOE staff is a major asset too, as evident in this issue’s profile of The Center for Education Design, Evaluation, & Research (CEDER) staff member Darin Stockdill, and in the feature of TeachingWorks postdoctoral fellow and SOE dije Assessment & Reporting Coordinator Carla Shalaby. Additionally, the educative events that the SOE dije leadership team has hosted to address pressing dije matters affecting youth and society are important, which is discussed in our feature of the SOE film screening and panel discussion on gender diversity and hypermasculinity. Another essential part of SOE dije efforts is the fostering of meaningful, mutually beneficial partnerships in the local community. This issue’s profile of SOE’s Ann Arbor Languages Partnership (A2LP), which teams our faculty, teacher education students, and staff with language programs throughout Ann Arbor Public Schools is a significant example of our inclusive collaborations and educational reach. Moreover, the 2017-2018 SOE dije student, faculty, and staff award winners highlighted in this issue exemplify the type of dije-driven dedication that is crucial to the remarkable qualities of SOE.
In addition to what is featured in this Expansions issue, we hope that a myriad of other dije activities and programming have enhanced the SOE community this academic year. Indeed, it has been a pleasure to have many community members attend the SOE dije Community Conversations that Dean Moje and I have hosted, along with the SOE dije Meet & Greet gathering co-sponsored by SOE’s Education Diversity Advisory Council (EDAC), plus the town hall discussions on free speech, the dije development workshops presented by Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, the dije Book Club discussion, a fireside chat with international students, and the Black Male Roundtable discussion group. Dean Moje and EDAC have also offered opportunities for SOE faculty to engage in discussions and professional development related to decentering Whiteness. Students, faculty, and staff members in our academic departments and operational units have organized numerous other dije activities too. For instance, Dr. Maren Oberman taught several sections of the new course EDUC 719: The Pedagogies of DIJE for graduate student instructors. All of the activities described have been significant to our dije work! Plans are now underway to set objectives for SOE’s 2018-19 dije agenda, and diversifying curriculum across SOE academic programs will be a major goal.
As I conclude my term as SOE dije’s Implementation Lead, I am grateful to have been inspired and to have learned much by working with the School’s devoted administrative leadership and wonderful students, faculty, and staff. I hope this issue of Expansions honors our community’s successes and motivates us to continue making significant dije strides!
SOE’s 2017-18 dije Leadership Team
The SOE dije leadership team includes: Dean Elizabeth Birr Moje, Dr. Camille Wilson the U-M Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion/dije Implementation Lead for SOE, Drs. Matt Diemer and Henry Meares who co-chair the SOE Education Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), members of EDAC, Associate Dean Shari Saunders who also serves as the faculty liaison for inclusive teaching, Dr. Philip Bowman, CSHPE dije Implementation Coordinator, and Dr. Carla Shalaby the dije Assessment & Reporting Coordinator. SOE dije Graduate Student Staff Assistant Eloise Reid and SOE Educational Justice Intern Dexter Moore, Jr. have also been integral to our dije implementation efforts. Please feel free to contact any of these team members with your feedback, questions, concerns, and ideas. A full list of EDAC members can be found online. Additional information about SOE dije efforts, including our calendar, strategic plan, and official reports can always be found on the SOE Diversity page.
- Expansions Welcome Message from SOE Dean Elizabeth Birr Moje
- Expansions Contents & 2017-18 dije Highlights by Implementation Lead Camille Wilson
- Pushing Back, Lifting Up, and Inspiring Change through SOE’s Student Organizations
- Leadership Spotlight: dije Learning and Development with Associate Dean Dr. Shari Saunders
- Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Christina Weiland’s Efforts to Boost Early Childhood Education Access
- Event Spotlight: SOE Film Screening & Panel Discussion on Gender Diversity and Hypermasculinity
- Staff Spotlight: Social Justice Curriculum Development with CEDER’s Dr. Darin Stockdill
- Special Feature: Enacting Passionate Public Citizenship with TeachingWorks & SOE dije team member Dr. Carla Shalaby
- Community Collaboration Spotlight: A2LP | Ann Arbor Languages Partnership Students Learning to Teach and Teaching to Learn
- 2017-2018 SOE dije Award Winners
- Production Credits
The School of Education is home to a multiplicity of student organizations that promote the work of diversity, inclusion, justice and equity in their own unique ways. The organizations are critical to offering students peer support, advocacy, and representation. Collectively, they also offer a range of engaging dije-related activities and programming. Here, we highlight several organizations that are part of our community.
BET, first named “Black Educators of Tomorrow,” was originally founded as a student organization centered around the experiences and needs of SOE’s Black/African American students with SOE’s Assistant Dean Henry Meares as its advisor. BET’s mission eventually expanded to focus on all graduate students of color, and membership today includes anyone interested in, and supportive of, diversity in education.
Educational Studies doctoral students Paulina Fraser and Naomi Wilson assumed leadership roles within BET when the original chairs were preparing to graduate. Each year BET presentsOutspoken,a spoken word and creative performance event that brings current SOE community members together with prospective students for an engaging, and often moving, evening of entertainment. Fraser explained that during her visit to SOE as a prospective student, she performed during Outspoken’s open mic period, and her Outspoken experience was one of the key reasons why she decided to attend Michigan. She performed that night because her dad told her, “Whenever you are given an opportunity to speak, step up.” Now, two years later, Fraser and Wilson are guiding BET through a period of revitalization and looking for others to help run the organization. In March, they co-hosted “Outspoken: The Series,” an extension of the original BET event. In additional, BET recently began hosting regular open mic nights at local bookstores and cafes like Avalon in downtown Ann Arbor. These nights are open to the public, and Paulina noted that it is “really important for events like this to exist, especially in these times.”
Every year, the Graduate Organization for Students in Higher Education (GOSHE) strives to assess and address the needs of students in SOE’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE). GOSHE aims to help CSHPE students see themselves as transformative educators who have the capacity to improve higher education organizations and conduct meaningful research. In line with the organization’s mission, this year’s GOSHE organizers—Shelby Flores, Sarah Spies, Kyle McCoil, Selyna Beverly and Tiffany Browne—hope members use the organization to connect with a diverse network of national higher education colleagues and to constructively challenge and support their CSHPE peers throughout their careers.
While GOSHE focuses on the field of higher education, they collaborate with other groups within the School of Education and across campus to pursue equity in both education and in intersecting fields. For instance, GOSHE collaborates with U-M’s Law School’s interdisciplinary initiative, The Student Rights Project (SRP).
The mission of SRP is to train law, social work, and education students to serve as advocates on interdisciplinary teams to represent public school students in suspension and expulsion hearings. The SRP also organizes and promotes activities designed to challenge institutional threats to educational opportunities for low-income children.
Led this year by law school student Elliot Gluck and SOE doctoral student Tonya Kneff-Chang, the Students Rights Project is a partner of the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan. The center is a regional, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the educational rights of students across Michigan.
The Graduate Student Community Organization acts as umbrella organization for all of the student groups at SOE and sends student advisors to faculty governance committees like the Dean’s Executive Committee. The primary mission of the GSCO is to cultivate the constant improvement of SOE graduate student support, representation, and communication. It strives to strengthen relationships among graduate students within and across programs in the school, to facilitate information sharing among graduate students, school administration, faculty, and staff, and to support graduate students in the sometimes strenuous process of attaining their degree. Educational Studies doctoral students Rebecca Gadd and Laura-Ann Jacobs co-chaired GSCO this year. The organization’s leadership committee is composed of 13 students who represent of all the academic programs within the School of Education.
GSCO and Becoming Educators of Tomorrow (BET) hosted the annual School of Education Graduate Student Conference this past March, which was entitled “Pushing Back and Lifting Up: Inspiring Change Through Educational Research, Policy, and Practice.”
Student organizers Ashley Jackson and Crystal Wise co-hosted the event at which both master’s and doctoral students presented research from a diverse range of disciplinary, epistemological, and methodological traditions.
Judi Siyaj, Mikayla Bowen, and Emma Klein co-chair The Social Work and Education Collaboration (SWEC). This organization aims to bring undergraduate and graduate students in their respective schools together to discuss and learn more about social justice issues in schools in order to become better equipped to serve the PreK-12 students with whom they work. The SWEC began when students in both fields noticed a disconnect between social workers’ and teachers’ school settings. They saw the potential of a more supportive school environment if social workers and teachers worked together to better understand issues and barriers students face. The SWEC organizers hope to continue to grow the organization and broaden the scope of topics in which they engage.
Altogether, the SOE’s student organizations boost the vitality of the School’sdije commitments. Organizations that reach beyond the SOE, like those linked with the School of Social Work and the Law School, have the extra ability to promote inclusion that benefits both local elementary and secondary students as well as U-M students across campus. All student organization leaders, however, help facilitate important conversations, offer SOE administrators, faculty, and staff constructive feedback, and help build community through their organizations’ events and by representing students’ voices in the field. A full list of SOE student organizations can be found on SOE's Student Groups directory.
When Dr. Shari Saunders, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Teacher Education, enters the room, she brings her whole self with her. The Associate Dean’s energy is contagious and her inquisitive questions and engaging personality are matched by her gift of storytelling. Dr. Saunders has been with the University of Michigan since 1990, and along with being an associate dean, she is a clinical professor of education. She also offers instructional leadership to the SOE in her role as a Faculty Liaison for Inclusive Teaching to the Provost’s Office.
Before the “diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity” terminology existed at Michigan, Dr. Saunders applied these concepts in courses she taught as an assistant professor. After five years in that role, she then served as the Coordinator of Multicultural Teaching and Learning Services at U-M’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching for four years. Dr. Saunders then moved to the Office of Student Affairs in the Michigan Union where she was the Coordinator of the Transforming Communities Project. These early dimensions of what we now refer to as “dije work,” positioned Dr. Saunders to help bring multiple community groups together to address their social experiences and identities. Now, as SOE’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Teacher Education, she is working with SOE program leaders to develop a shared understanding of dije and social justice for students in our educator preparation programs. In her current leadership position, Dr. Saunders leverages all of her past experiences to contribute to SOE’s advancement. She referred to the various parts of her life as a “journey...one that is shifting and morphing, where the work of dije is embedded in all of it.”
At SOE, Dr. Saunders also works to offer high quality dije professional development opportunities to students, staff, and faculty alike. She recently invited Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni to facilitate workshops at the SOE after seeing DiGiovanni perform on campus last year. Saunders initially asked DiGiovanni to present dije training to SOE’s Teacher Education students. She then asked her to offer workshops to all SOE community members. Dr. Saunders also led a workshop for graduate student instructors entitled “Circle Processes as a Starting Point for Engaging with Controversial Topics in the University Classroom.” That workshop was designed to help the instructors learn to use inclusive strategies and management techniques when facilitating challenging classroom discussions.
Dr. Saunders champions the idea of educators fostering a “brave space” in classrooms, which requires developing a classroom community where people can speak honestly and be open to being challenged and uncomfortable—goals she works to accomplish in her own teaching. She stated that she “very rarely lectures,” and instead focuses on which authors and activities that can be used in the classroom so students are participating in hands-on practice with dije. She frequently incorporates social emotional learning and daily assessments in her classrooms too, where students are able to speak about how course topics and their learning affect them personally and in academic settings. Additionally, Saunders invites student to assess how they are honoring the classroom norms of their co-created community agreement. During the summer, her teacher education students are often given opportunities to teach with the TeachLIVE lab too, which is an innovative, online, simulated teaching environment.
Outside of her professional roles, Dr. Saunders finds some time to continue expanding her own education and maintain work-life balance. She said one of her biggest and most important personal goals is to work with her mom to make sure she reaches a minimum of 90 years old. Dr. Saunders explained that she “calls her and engages her mind regularly.” Her commitment to her mother's own health and longevity is matched by her own passion for personal well-being and self-care. Dr. Saunders has completed her certification as a health coach, and is hoping to complete a Yamuna body rolling teacher certification in the future. When she is not too busy, you can also find her in “tons of cooking classes,” where she may be learning how to become a raw food chef and make delicious and healthy food. Dr. Saunders is also trained in aromatherapy, and occasionally engages in quilting, jewelry making, and balcony gardening. Enjoying spas and traveling to bed and breakfasts across the country is another one of Dr. Saunders’ loves. Overall, Dr. Shari Saunders’ life, and engagement with the School of Education, is passionate and deeply-rooted in dije and in affirming her own humanity as well as that of her students and future generations.
Studying and Advocating for Early Childhood Education Access: Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Christina Weiland
We are delighted to highlight the dije-related scholarship and advocacy of Dr. Christina Weiland, an Assistant Professor of Educational Studies who is also affiliated with the Combined Program in Psychology and Education, and the Education Policy Initiative at U-M’s Ford School of Public Policy. Dr. Weiland studies the effects of early childhood interventions and public policies on child development, particularly for children from low-income families. Last spring, Dr. Weiland published her co-authored book, “Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality,” to wide acclaim. The book speaks candidly about disparities in the “school readiness” of American kindergartners. This readiness include a child’s ability to demonstrate the foundational knowledge, skills, and behaviors required for curriculum-based kindergarten standards. The book explores the types of educational opportunities made available to low-income students between the ages of zero and five-years-old. Dr. Weiland and her co-author Dr. Ajay Chaudry review research on what works best for increasing school readiness skills, and the types of environments that foster children’s development of such skills. The book concludes with recommendations for policymakers interested in research-based investments in zero-to-five education.
SOE Educational Justice Intern Dexter Moore, Jr. interviewed Dr. Weiland in December 2017.
Can you share the inspiration behind your research on early childcare education? How does your work connect to the SOE’s dije mission?
CW: My interest in early childhood education grew out of my first job at ABT Associates, a policy research firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At the time, they had a lot of early childhood work and I was assigned a project that sent me all over the country to collect data on preschool classrooms. I was sent to really rural places; I am from rural Appalachia, a first generation college graduate, so I was really interested in issues of equity. It was really eye-opening for me, as a twenty-two year old, to see these little guys and girls in programs all over the country where they wouldn't be in preschool otherwise, and to see how much they loved it. These were for students in a program called Even Start, for kids whose family incomes are even lower than those required for Head Start. For me, that was really inspiring because it was a lot like the community I grew up in.
From there, I educated myself about the research on early education. I became a middle school teacher to figure out how close to the ground I wanted to be. I taught at Ted Sizer’s founding charter school and was in an integrated classroom where I taught Humanities. From that experience, I got a pretty strong message that I wanted to be with research, so here I am.
Related to dije, we know that kids come into kindergarten on the first day looking very different based on their family income, and we as a society have chosen not to do much in that period to support young families. They can’t take out loans to fund this period of life like they can for college, though that itself has its own set of issues. So we’ve really left these families on their own, and that's a choice we’ve made. I see this as a time when developmentally, children are more flexible than they ever will be in their lifetime, and so we really are missing an opportunity to start them on a positive trajectory.
Can you frame the “problem” you explore, for those of us who have not read the book?
CW: We talk about the disparities that exist in terms of how kids land in kindergarten on the first day of school in their “school readiness skills,” and the types of opportunities they’ve had up to that point that led to where they are. [After] reviewing the research, we put forth a plan for what we as a society should do if we were going to make research-based investments in children aged zero-to-five. It is a multi-part plan. It includes a proposal for paid family leave for the mother and the father. It includes a childcare subsidy proposal because we know that families often cannot find or afford high-quality childcare, and the subsidy would be offered on a sliding scale based on income. What it would do is allow families to put their children in the type of care setting they would like, because choice is still prime in our plan, so hopefully the supply of quality slots would go up and families’ ability to get into those slots would also increase.
We have very scarce zero-to-three care that is high quality, and the majority of kids are in some type of care arrangement that is non-parental when they’re infants. That is sort of the normal thing that happens to kids in our country now. At the preschool level, we argue that universal preschool should really start at the age of 3, and we should use the science where we have it the most in the early childhood period because we know the kinds of experiences that kids should be having, and we know that most kids do not have access to (those experiences). Particular examples include curricula that are proven to work and ways of supporting teachers that are proven to work. But most preschool programs that exist do not make use of what we know, so our proposal emphasizes research-based proven metrics.
You recently traveled to Seattle to stand alongside Senator Patty Murray. Can you share the purpose of your visit and describe the momentum that your research is creating?
CW: Patty Murray put forth a bill this fall, the Childcare for Working Families Act, and many of the things she asked for in the bill align with our proposal. So she went to Seattle and Tacoma to share this proposal and we met her in these two cities to meet with stakeholders and local organizations who work hard on these issues nationally. We accompanied her to back her proposal up with the research. We have also been working with a number of states who are interested in improving early childcare opportunities for children in their area. We meet with key stakeholders to understand their next steps and to identify the parts of our plan that most resonate with their constituent group.
How does the U.S. compare to international models of success?
CW: What we know about the international scene is that when you look at how many kids in our key competitor nations are going to preschool, in about a dozen countries it’s over 90%. So, in many ways we are trailing behind the OEC (Observatory of Economic Complexity) countries. We also spend very little compared to other countries. So, in our book we do not pick one model and say “this is what we should do,” because there are too many cultural differences to consider. We focus on what other countries are spending and on what, and what are we doing? We see enormous gaps in all of the areas that we target.
I read The Sandbox Investment many years ago, and it was instrumental in framing my understanding of the existing inequities within early childcare education. Do you have other literature/scholarship that you would suggest for community members to learn more about this important topic?
CW: Something that we should focus on as we think about the disparities is: What do exemplary preschool programs look like? Someone who has written extensively about this is Vivian Gussin Paley. One of her books, The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter, captures the magic of a really great early childhood classroom. For most people, we haven’t been that age or been inside of a preschool classroom for a very long time, so her work gives you the perspective of a kid in a classroom and shows you what’s possible around development. This particular book is about a boy with a disability and how he grows across the year and the classroom structures that support his development. Because our community has so many “practice strong” people, teacher narratives might be useful for complimenting the policy and providing the kinds of perspective like The Sandbox Investment does.
What are some ways that community members can support these recommendations?
CW: Our policies are aimed at the federal level so it’s a bit difficult to give marching orders to our community members, but there are states and localities that have taken these problems on in a big way. San Antonio and Seattle are places where localities have decided to fund preschool. In Seattle, this was a ballot measure, and so if something like this were to happen then of course you could have community members be active around these issues. More locally, this is an issue in Washtenaw County that is getting more attention because we do have public preschool in Michigan. It is very income targeted and it only goes to about a third of the kids, and there is a waitlist—meaning there is more demand than there is supply. To the degree that there is any movement on those fronts with the gubernatorial election coming up, there could be an opportunity for community members to contribute politically.
In all, the interview with Christina Weiland revealed her deep interest in the active ingredients that drive children’s gains in successful, at-scale public preschool programs. To date, her work has been characterized by her research and partnerships aimed at improving the life chances of young disadvantaged children, and the SOE is fortunate to have her as part of our intellectual community. You can learn more about Christina's professional experience on her SOE Faculty profile.
What Hides Underneath the Mask? Viewing and Discussing Matters of Gender Diversity and HyperMasculinity
In an effort to diversify the School of Education’s dije programming, a staff and student team comprised of Liz Dean, Felice Gonzales, Dexter Moore Jr., and Eloise Reid organized an event around gender and sexuality. With such a broad topic and an array of directions to steer this conversation, the planning committee was immediately drawn towards the unifying forces and shared experience that an audience participates in when viewing a film. The organizing team chose to share the award-winning documentary The Mask You Live In, by a film collective called The Representation Project, as the focal point for the mid-March dije event. The film delivered a powerful narrative about how society has shaped masculinity for youth and adults alike. It also pointed to the role of educators in socializing boys and influencing societal notions of masculinity overall. Following the film, three panelists shared their personal and professional perspectives about the film and its topics. Panelists compellingly pointed to the intersectionalities of their identities and experiences as they relate to race, sexual orientation, parenthood, mentoring, teaching, and negotiating the workforce too.
Beanie Zollweg, the Manager for Student Engagement at the University of Michigan Alumni Association, the Volunteer Coordinator for Ann Arbor Pride as well as the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Jim Toy Community Center shared her powerful perspective on queer identity. We were also joined by Gordon Palmer, a doctoral student in SOE’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE). He drew upon his personal experiences and his research on college student development, critical consciousness, and Black masculinities. Our final panelist was Ed-Dee Williams, a doctoral in U-M’s School of Social Work. In addition to offering his personal reflections, Williams discussed the film’s links to his research on the social determinants of mental health diagnosis for black youth, their comprehension of mental health and its impact, and Black youth criminalization.
The gender diversity event was moderated by Nicolas Boileau, a SOE Educational Studies doctoral student specializing in Mathematics Education. Boileau has a background in teaching secondary school mathematics and conducts research on secondary school mathematics teacher decision-making in the Geometry, Reasoning and Instructional Practice (GRIP) laboratory. Boileau posed questions to the panelists provided by the event organizers and audience members. Several questions related to the film’s central metaphor of masking or unmasking emotions and healthy expressions of masculinity. Questions were also asked about the steps that educators, families, and community members can take to lovingly nurture boys and affirm an array of identities that people assume along a gender identity spectrum.
The film and subsequent conversation allowed SOE community members to hear from researchers on their fields of expertise and self-reflect about their influence as educators and scholars. Panelists challenged attendees to both ponder the ways they may perpetuate artificially constructed gender norms and the ways they help socialize boys. Attendees were further encouraged to consider what effect such behaviors have on children and on society as a whole. When asked how best to move forward in addressing themes of toxic masculinity and gender identity, the panelists all agreed it is best to listen to children, emotionally nurture and affirm them, and strive to guide toward them becoming motivated and compassionate stakeholders in their own learning and gender socialization. To learn more about the film featured, follow this link.
Dr. Darin Stockdill is the design coordinator for the School of Education’s Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research (CEDER), and he is responsible for managing CEDER’s instructional and program design projects. His drive for creating a more just education system through curriculum design is inspired by some of his earliest memories of his parents. Dr. Stockdill’s mother was an early childhood educator who dedicated her professional career to working with marginalized and low-income communities. His father was a public policy expert on mental health who focused on developing community mental health services. He says he has “always been exposed to working around issues [of] access and injustice,” even as a child.
Dr. Stockdill attended U-M for his undergraduate degree, and he graduated with a BA in History. As an anti-racist activist on campus in the early 1990’s, he was involved with the Latin American solidarity movement and found his passion for social justice best integrated professionally into the field of education. He was also actively involved in the University’s former Ella Baker-Nelson Mandela Center, which focused on anti-racist education and operated a police brutality hotline. Further inspiration for his current work came from the 10 years he spent teaching in Detroit as a social studies and English teacher working with both middle and high school students. Dr. Stockdill’s students were predominately immigrants from Mexico, and as he taught them social studies, he started to question the content that was in their textbooks. He noted how the stories of his students’ lives were not represented in the curriculum being taught. Drawing on a concept termed by sociologists as the “sociological imagination”—meaning the “ability to locate ourselves in history”—Dr. Stockdill decided he wanted to do a better job as a teacher to help his students do just that. He said he was looking for ways to relate what they were learning in school to help them “understand what was happening in their community, and some of the inequalities they were facing, and be better equipped to push back against it and resist it.”
After earning his MA in the social foundations of education from Eastern Michigan University, Dr. Stockdill earned his doctorate here in U-M SOE’s Literacy, Language, and Culture program in 2011. Now, he says almost all of his work is equity drivenF, and he gravitates naturally towards the social justice aspect of curriculum design. With the principles of design-based research and social justice education guiding his work, Dr. Stockdill believes in education as a tool for liberation and thus champions high-quality education for all students. Through his work with CEDER, Dr. Stockdill also helps design social justice curricula that makes their way into marginalized communities where many students are not provided with high-quality materials.
“Little Stones” and “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” are two of the most recent curricula that CEDER has offered to school communities under Dr. Stockdill’s leadership. The Little Stones Educational Toolkit is based on the documentary by U-M alumna Sophia Kruz. The film unites the personal narratives of four women around the world who use art to create positive change in their communities. The toolkit was completed in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Driftseed in order to teach high school and college students about gender-based violence, and to show them how to create change through the power of art. The kit includes eight lesson plans as well as a final project, discussion guides for after a screening, and workshops on poetry and graphic design. As Dr. Stockdill puts it, “We wanted to encourage people to become involved with this already ongoing conversation and empower people to take action in their own communities.” Indeed, given his own experience as a former teacher, Dr. Stockdill understands the importance of adaptability and flexibility that is so necessary for educators, so the toolkit is designed to accommodate all schedules and needs. You can find the free tool on the Little Stones For Educators page.
“Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” is a collaboration between the team at CEDER and African-American composer Joel Thompson. Mr. Thompson was moved to respond to the killings of unarmed black men by police and non-police, like George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin’s case. He wrote a choral piece of the same title as the curriculum, which was inspired by a classical piece called “Seven Last Words of Christ.” Mr. Thompson then connected with Eugene Rogers, who is the director of the U-M Men’s Glee Club, and they developed a score and arrangement. Upon the premier performance of that piece, Michigan Creative created a documentary entitled “Love, Life and Loss.” Eugene and Margo Schlanger, of Michigan’s Law School, then reached out to CEDER for expertise and guidance in designing the educational resources related to “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed.” CEDER subsequently partnered with the artists and organizers to build a three-day lesson plan to accompany the half-hour documentary.
Dr. Stockdill shared that as he designs curriculum, he asks: “How do we engage kids in meaningful, responsible ways with really painful issues that need to be tackled, but need to be tackled responsibly?” He strives to engage youth in thinking deeply about both problems and solutions, as well as empowering them to use their voices. Dr. Stockdill would like to see youth “produce works of art or other works of reflection in which they are wrestling with these problems and finding ways to make it better.” His ambitions are reflected in his contribution to CEDER curricular projects like “The Seven Last Words,” which includes the poetry of Detroit youth. “The Seven Last Words” resource guide represents just one of the many ways that Dr. Stockdill helps CEDER, SOE, and U-M overall, innovatively pursue significant dijeobjectives.
Dr. Carla Shalaby’s day starts early in the morning, when nobody else in her house is up and she can enjoy the quiet with just a book and coffee in hand before the chaos of the day begins. She calls herself a nerd, and the dije team at the School of Education appreciates that she spends so much of her time “nerding out” about diversity, inclusion, justice and equity. Dr. Shalaby’s role on the dije team is to support the work of assessing and reporting on the School of Education’s dije-related initiatives and efforts. She says, “We’re working together to figure out how to capture and highlight all the amazing dije work happening around the School of Education, and also how to honestly reflect on where we can and should do better.”
When asked how she hopes to contribute to dije work in her role at the School and beyond, she immediately grounds herself in her communal, professional, and familial roles. She calls herself a “public citizen, an SOE community member, a dije team member, a TeachingWorks team member, a researcher and writer, a partner, parent, sister and daughter” and, “always hopes to contribute her vision of and her demand for a more human world.” Both personally and professionally, at the SOE and beyond, Dr. Shalaby is committed to imagining and fighting for educational experiences that are worthy of our young people. She hopes to always contribute her deep reverence for children, for teaching as a profession, and for the possibilities of education as a site of revolution.
Along Dr. Shalaby’s professional path, which started in elementary classroom teaching, she has learned to see and understand the role of the teacher as a key actor in the ongoing freedom struggle. So understanding the relationships between education and (in)justice has always been the cornerstone of her professional life and pursuits. Dr. Shalaby’s major professional goal is to support teachers to skillfully take up their particular role and responsibilities as part of the larger freedom struggle.
When asked what else she is passionate outside of dije, Dr. Shalaby answered, “What could a human being be passionate about that doesn't somehow intersect with justice, inclusion, equity and diversity? I'm exercising my brain to try to come up with something, but everything I care about is part of the human or natural world, and nothing in the human or natural world is outside of dije for me.” That answer is an embodiment of Dr. Shalaby’s fierce and loving energy. It also relates to her passion and commitment to helping ensure the four letters of dije jump off the page of assessments and reports to deeply connect to the life of the School and the world beyond.
Learning to Teach and Teaching to Learn: Undergraduate Students’ Inspiring Role in SOE’s Ann Arbor Languages Partnership (A2LP)
Ann Arbor Languages Partnership (A2LP), a program that teaches undergraduates to teach Spanish to 3rd and 4th graders in Ann Arbor Public Schools, was founded by SOE Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr. Maria Coolican, and SOE Professor of Teacher Education, Dr. Donald Freeman. They established the partnership after a meeting ten years ago with the then superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools. Today, A2LP it is still going strong as an inclusive SOE partnership that develops undergraduate students’ teaching skills as they offer Spanish language instruction and foster cross-cultural appreciation and awareness among young children in our local community. Dr. Coolican directs A2LP and is assisted by Research Manager and Curriculum Coordinator Dr. Claudia Cameratti-Baeza, and Graduate Student Instructor Martha Epperson. Approximately 75 SOE undergraduate students, called Language Teaching Assistants (LTAs), participate in the partnership each year. They teach nearly 2,000 local elementary school students per week in more than 75 third and fourth grade classrooms in 19 schools around the city.
SOE dije Graduate Student Staff Assistant Eloise Reid interviewed three LTAs, including Maia Zvetan, Keith Sims, and Kayce Mullett, who reflected on their experiences serving as A2LP teaching assistants. Maia Zvetan is a senior in the International Studies program with a concentration in Comparative Culture and Identity. Keith Sims, also a senior, is studying Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience, while Kayce Mullett is a sophomore majoring in the International Studies program with a concentration in Global Health and Environment. All three LTAs shared their excitement for teaching and commented on the ways they are gleaning insight into the role of diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity as they build meaningful relationships with diverse local students.
What brought you to this teaching work and the A2LP Program?
MZ (Maia Zvetan): Two years ago, another student in my (U-M) Spanish class was so excited about it so I signed up after checking (A2LP) out online. After listening to Martha (Epperson), Claudia (Cameratti-Baeza) and Maria (Coolican) during the orientation, their passion really solidified that this was something I wanted to do. I also wanted to see these kids have the same experience I had in terms of discovering new languages and cultures, and falling in love with them.
KS (Keith Simms): I was enrolled in an upper-level Spanish class and one of the (A2LP) participants came to speak about the program and all of the different things you get to do. At the time, I was pursuing a Spanish minor, and you can receive Spanish credit for working with A2LP, so I thought that would be an excellent opportunity. Also, I have been working with kids in various ways my whole life, so I thought it would be another interesting experience to teach kids Spanish.
KM (Kayce Mullett): I also spoke to a student who highly recommended the program, and was also inspired by a presenter who came into my Spanish class. I didn’t know how important Spanish would be to me until my senior year of high school when I had an amazing Spanish teacher. I thought about the influence of that one person and how that was the difference between me falling in love with Spanish or just letting it go after high school. I thought, “why not try and be the person who was really passionate about it,” and try and spread that to other people. It is really amazing to be able to separate yourself from school (U-M) like that sometimes.
What do you feel the biggest takeaway from the A2LP program has been?
MZ: For me, that would be really hard to boil down to just one thing. I am also pursuing a Spanish minor, and working with A2LP brings a different perspective to the academic side of it and that has been really nice. Seeing the kids go from, “I don’t know any Spanish, I don’t want to speak in Spanish, this is so scary” to “alright, I am going to try and give you a complete sentence in Spanish every time I answer”—seeing that progression and watching the kids become more comfortable and confident in themselves is incredible! They become much more confident about being heard and listened to by the adults in their lives. It is very rewarding. You are in the classroom to teach them Spanish but you are also showing them what they can become, and what they have inside themselves, and you learn how to nurture that.
KS: I have two different takeaways from two different perspectives. Speaking as a teacher, this program helped me realize how much work and preparation goes into teaching. We are only teaching two days a week so now I have realized how much more work it must be for a teacher who is teaching many more classes. Working with students has been really rewarding. Watching how much they are learning and seeing them go from a student who does not know a lot of Spanish, to now speaking complete sentences in Spanish is amazing.
KM: I think it is very interesting and valuable to have a small part of the week switched in terms of roles. Every other moment that I am not teaching in A2LP, I am a student here (at U-M) where it is all about learning material, trying to prove yourself, and demonstrating your knowledge. When you get to switch that up, for the short period of time where you are the instructor, you see that you want your student to be passionate and involved in what you are teaching. This perspective has helped me understand my role as a student. When I first arrived at the University, I was very nervous to attend my professors office hours, or I felt like I should know everything already and I was worried about that. But teaching these students has taught me to also become a better student myself. It is helpful to see what it is like in the instructor’s shoes, and understand that you are there only because you want to teach. You want your students to become engaged. Being a teacher has helped me grow as a student.
Has A2LP given you any new insights into the work of diversity, inclusion, justice or equity?
MZ: I try to bring in as many cultural or diversity elements to the lesson plan as I can when I am teaching. I am a goofball and will market those elements of the lesson plan off as “cool facts!” to the kids so they can process it in their own ways. I think that the kids process the diversity, equality, and justice components of the lesson on a different spectrum than we do. It can be as simple as explaining to the kid who says, “That is so weird! Why do they do that?” that it is important to recognize other cultures’ and countries’ rituals and routines. You bring all these different perspectives into the classroom, so they are all learning about themselves and each other, but also culture as a whole.
KS: One thing that I was surprised about was that at Allen Elementary, where I teach, the represented racial and ethnic diversity is very impressive. I also have native (Spanish) speakers in my classes, and sometimes I will pronounce a word and they will say, “Oh that is not how it sounds where I am from, or in my culture.” So then I will take the time to break it down and explain to the class that even with Spanish there are many different variations depending on who is speaking it and where it is being spoken.
KM: The students you are actually teaching are so diverse. There are native English speakers, native Spanish speakers, and people who are still learning English. I also think that the structure of the program is exciting. A2LP brings college students who don’t have a background in teaching from all different disciplines and has them teach, so the very nature of the program is collaboration. When you put us all in one room you are creating one giant, collaborative, Spanish teacher-monster who goes out and teaches hundreds of Ann Arbor’s third- and fourth-graders every week! It is just so wild!
What is a challenge you feel you have overcome during your time at A2LP?
MZ: Some of the challenges that I am overcoming are my own, not as much about the teaching atmosphere itself. Maria, Martha, and Claudia really give you all these excellent techniques and this great information that you can use in different settings, and so all of the planning feels natural. It is really about overcoming your own self-doubt and going with the flow of the lessons. When you get the exam scores back, you can also see your success! It is rewarding.
KS: I had to find who I was as a teacher myself, and was able to express that and show that off. Now that I am a solo teacher, I feel like I have come into my own teaching, and I think that the students definitely respect me more and I have a better connection with them. I am able to see what I am doing right, what I am doing wrong, and what I can continue to improve on. And how I can help them learn as well. It has really helped me find myself as a teacher, because now I am able to focus, change things, and make them as good as they can become.
KM: I realized it was about the connection you can make with the students. We have five minutes in between classes, and I started lingering around and telling students how well they did in that lesson or asking what they did on the weekend. Once they realize that you are invested in them, they are so excited to see you, and then that translates into being excited about Spanish. This program isn’t about having all the right tricks and being the best at saying the vocabulary, it is more about making connections with your students and inspiring them to be excited and engaged in the language.
Can you share an anecdote from your time in the classroom that you feel is relevant to the topic of dije? Or just a sweet memory from working with the kids?
MZ: I walked in one day as the class that I taught last year was coming outside, and they all saw me and yelled “Señorita!” and started speaking to me in Spanish. This group included some of the kids who were not engaged in the beginning of the program, so to see them have such a positive reaction to me, and to have their immediate thought to be to speak to me in Spanish, was very rewarding.
KS: One day I was teaching and my first class had a sub, so they were kind of off the wall. I had to keep trying to get their attention and it was difficult. I went into my last class of that day and they were all happy to see me and started saying “Español! Español!” That just made me feel awesome, showed me how far I had come with them, and how much they now really enjoy Spanish and learning.
KM: Just last week one of my students said, “I know we are more than halfway done with Spanish, but before you leave can you give us a big packet of all the words we have learned?!” When your students want to know more than what you can even fit into the time that you have, you know that you have done something right!
Indeed, under the guidance of SOE faculty and staff, Maya, Keith, and Kayce are wonderful examples of undergraduate students making an important difference as they contribute to SOE partnerships and their ability to enhance local school communities!
We are thrilled to congratulate and highlight the 2017-18 SOE dije Award Winners! The winners include student, faculty, and staff nominees who embody deep dedication to advancing diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity in all aspects of their professional work. Collectively, the winners’ input, determination, and consideration greatly benefit the SOE as well as the broader campus and local communities. Award winners were nominated by SOE community members and selected by the SOE Education Diversity Advisory Council (EDAC). There were no undergraduate nominees this year, and therefore no award winner in that category. We thank the winners for all of their contributions and offer excerpts from their nomination statements below.
Graduate Student Winner: Ms. Aurora Kamimura, Doctoral Candidate in Higher Education, Organizational Behavior and Management
Ms. Aurora Kamimura is a doctoral candidate in the SOE’s Center for the Study of Higher & Postsecondary Education where she is specializing in higher education, organizational behavior and management. In partnership with the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good and the National Center for Institutional Diversity, Ms. Kamimura has worked with her peers to develop one of the country’s leading hubs for information and professional development about institutional policy on undocumented students. In 2015, she led the team implementing an online seminar on this topic for which over 500 people registered. Along with being a graduate intern at the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, Ms. Kamimura is a Rackham Merit Fellow. Her student leadership has also been evident through her work with the Coalition for Interdisciplinary Research on Latino/a Issues (CIRLI), Rackham Grad Parents, Becoming Educators of Tomorrow (BET), Students of Color of Rackham (SCOR), and the Division of Student Affairs. Ms. Kamimura’s research pursuits infuse both her social justice commitments and her deep interest in organizational knowledge. She plans to examine hiring practices at universities like Michigan that seek to diversify their faculty as part of her dissertation research.
Excerpt from Nomination:
"Ms. Kamimura adeptly facilitated dialogues, helping students usually reticent to speak find their voice. She also aided students in finding common ground amid divergent identities, worldviews, and political ideologies. Many seasoned professors struggle to succeed at these tasks, making her talent in doing so as a graduate student all the more impressive. Aurora has also been a key member of our community with respect to recruiting new graduate students to Michigan, particularly students of color."
You can read more about Ms. Aurora Kamimura on her SOE profile.
Dr. Patricia M. King is a professor in SOE’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE). Her teaching and research focus on the learning and development of college students and other adults in educational settings. She is interested in approaches to student learning that explore the interactions between student characteristics (such as their expectations, social identities, and developmental levels) and features of their learning environments in curricular, co-curricular, and personal contexts. She previously organized SOE’s Race & Social Justice Seminar, bringing in speakers from around the country, and inviting students and faculty to join these guests in a rich intellectual exchange. Dr. King also helped lead several funding initiatives that yielded funding to support doctoral students during the spring and summer, to support student research on diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity topics in higher education, and to help defray travel costs for CSHPE students who participated in domestic study trips to tribal colleges and historically Black colleges and universities. Additionally, Dr. King worked with former CSHPE Clinical Professor Betty Overton to build a network among minority serving institutions (MSIs) in higher education to encourage undergraduate students at MSIs to pursue graduate education.
Excerpt from Nomination:
“Without a great deal of formal recognition, Professor King has kept dije at the forefront of our efforts in the Center, and she is someone I can rely upon to bring expertise and energy behind my efforts to build a more inclusive climate. I believe she is absolutely worthy of this award.”
You can read more about Dr. King's work on her SOE Faculty profile.
Staff Winner: Ms. Felice Gonzales, Office and Program Manager of the Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research (CEDER)
Felice Gonzales is the Office and Program Manager at the Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research (CEDER) where she supports a wide variety of grant-funded and fee-for-service activities. Her position provides program and administrative support to CEDER’s Managing Director and other CEDER staff and faculty, as well as support for a growing number of ongoing program activities and events. Recently, Ms. Gonzales also worked as the Project Associate Manager on the Educational Studies’ Geometry, Reasoning and Instructional Practice (GRIP) laboratory team, led by Professor Patricio Herbst. Ms. Gonzales has brought insights and skills from working over 10 years in K-12 education to the SOE. Indeed, she is both a former a school social worker and former administrator of special education. Ms. Gonzales has generously contributed to School-wide diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity efforts, and she consistently promotes dije issues in her daily work in CEDER. At the SOE-level, she was one of four organizers of the recent SOE Gender Diversity Film Screening and Panel Discussion on Gender Diversity and Hypermasculinity. This event, held in March 2018, attracted nearly 50 students, faculty members, and staff members. Felice volunteered to co-organize the event, along with staff member Liz Dean and SOE dije student team members Eloise Reid (dije GSSA) and Dexter Moore, Jr. (dije intern).
Excerpt from Nomination:
“Felice’s dije efforts and engagement stand as a model for other staff members in many ways. We have particularly appreciated her initiative this academic year given that increasing staff engagement in SOE dije matters has been an important part of the year. Additionally, Felice has routinely attended all-School dije events and has promoted dije-related matters as a member of SOE’s Staff Development Committee. Her service on that committee is voluntary and self-initiated too. We believe Felice would be a deserving and honored recipient of a 2018 SOE dije award.”
You can read more about Ms. Gonzales on her SOE Staff profile.
The SOE dije leadership team deeply thank Eloise Macmillan Reid and Dexter Moore, Jr. who have lent vital organizational support and student leadership during the 2017-18 year. Eloise has served as the School’s Graduate Student Staff Assistant for dije, while Dexter has served as team’s Educational Justice Intern.
Both Eloise and Dexter have greatly enriched SOE’s dije efforts and lent wonderful ideas, thoughtful perspectives, and enthusiastic initiative. From co-organizing the gender diversity event, helping establish the SOE Black Male Roundtable, and being a part of so much work in between, Eloise and Dexter have shown deep commitment to SOE dije. They have also made a lasting imprint on the School community that will particularly benefit continuing and future students. We appreciate their dedication and wish them the very best as they advance in pursuing their educational and professional goals!
Eloise is a dual-degree master's student in Environmental Justice at the School for Environment and Sustainability and in Urban and Regional Planning at the Taubman School of Urban and Regional Planning. Her thesis research focuses on the intersection of climate adaptation in coastal cities, green infrastructure design and "green gentrification" in New Orleans. Prior to Michigan, Eloise worked as an environmental educator for four years in both New Orleans and Chicago. She is a community organizer working to unionize charter schools and advance racial justice. She also co-founded a women-powered landscape design company and installed rain gardens to improve flood reduction in New Orleans. Eloise graduated with a BA in Environmental and Africana Studies from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. She is proudly from the small town of Moretown, Vermont. In her spare time, she enjoys playing guitar, singing, writing poetry, and spending time with her family and friends.
Dexter is a graduating master’s student in Educational Studies, focusing on Leadership and Policy. Prior to Michigan, he graduated with a B.A. in History from California State University, East Bay. As an educator, he has worked to transform learning communities in Los Angeles, Miami, and in his hometown, Oakland, California. Dexter is particularly invested in the educational well-being of Black and Brown boys, and has worked tirelessly to create and champion opportunities that prioritize their development and success. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and blowing virtual kisses to his two toddler-age nieces in California.
Editor: Camille M. Wilson; Writers: Eloise Macmillan Reid, Camille M. Wilson, and Dexter Moore, Jr.; Editorial Assistance: Carla Shalaby; Graphic Design & Layout: Liz Dean and Jake Salazar