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New Education Faculty Promote Educational Equity in K-12 Classrooms

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To prepare future teachers for the K-12 classroom, four new faculty members — in elementary and bilingual education and secondary education — joined the College of Education this academic year. Their research interests focus on educational issues such as promoting equitable and inclusive teaching practices and the recruitment and retention of teachers of color.

Kira LeeKeenan

Kira LeeKeenan
Assistant professor of secondary education
Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction-language and literacy studies, University of Texas, Austin
M.Ed. in learning and teaching-instructional leadership, Harvard University
B.A. in English, teacher credential in English, University of Massachusetts

Research interests: Examining adolescent literacy practices and identities — basically how youth think about and enact who they are as producers and consumers; and studying ways in which both teacher candidates and classroom teachers create communities to support and sustain critical and equity-oriented teaching practices.

Most impactful academic or co-curricular experience as an undergraduate student: When I was an undergrad, I took a creative writing class, where for the first time, I felt like I could create something that would make a difference in the world. The structure of the class gave us space to build a community of writers, share and respond to each other’s work. We would meet our professor at a coffee shop and she would work with us one-on-one over coffee. She showed us how writers work, and made us feel like our ideas and words mattered.

Something you’d like others to know about you: I knew that I was meant to go into higher education and teach teachers when all I wanted to talk to my high school English students about was the ‘why’ behind my teaching practice, and push them to think more about ‘how’ they are learning.

Favorite book or movie: “Pay It Forward” (movie) and “Poisonwood Bible” (book)

Josephine H. Pham

Josephine H. Pham
Assistant professor of secondary education
Ph.D. in education, UCLA
M.A. in education, teaching credential in English, Stanford University
B.A. in English education, San Jose State University

Research interests: Recruitment, retention and learning trajectories of K-12 teachers of color as change agents; critical race and ethnic studies; and pedagogies for social transformation.

Most impactful academic or co-curricular experience as an undergraduate student: As a working-class and commuter student who attended a California State University in my hometown, I learned to embrace my family, my community and my roots as critical to my academic experiences, and holistic development as a young woman of color.

Something you’d like others to know about you: I am a proud native of the San Francisco Bay Area and daughter of Vietnamese refugees. My experiences as a K-12 teacher and teacher educator greatly informs my community-engaged approach to scholarship.

Favorite book: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

Mallika Scott

Mallika Scott
Assistant professor of elementary and bilingual education
Ph.D. in education-mathematics, science and technology, M.S. in education, UC Berkeley
B.S. in chemistry, UCLA

Research interests: Investigating, designing and supporting robust teacher learning, particularly as teachers navigate the tensions of working toward a vision of more just and equitable mathematics teaching practices, which is not yet widely held or practiced in school systems.

Most impactful academic or co-curricular experience as an undergraduate student: I volunteered in a tutoring and mentorship program and realized I loved spending my days with children.

Something you’d like others to know about you: I love exploring and traveling with my two sons.

Favorite book: “Sula” by Toni Morrison

Gavin Tierney

Gavin Tierney
Assistant professor of secondary education
Ph.D. in educational psychology-learning sciences and human development, University of Washington
M.Ed. in secondary teaching, University of Denver
B.A. in English literature, University of Puget Sound

Research interests: Collaboratively designing learning environments with youth; youth identity development and engagement; educational equity; alternative education; project-based learning; and classroom assessment.

Most impactful academic or co-curricular experience as an undergraduate student: I was a lead singer in a Celtic rock band and I have played music with others ever since. I currently play in the Seattle-based country band “Shakey Blankets.” This experience in college also helped formulate my ideas on collaboration — creating music I couldn’t do on my own. This has become a metaphor for ways to collaboratively design equitable learning environments.

Something you’d like others to know about you: Prior to pursuing my doctorate, I taught English and social studies in public alternative high schools in Colorado and Washington state.

Favorite book: “Racialized Identities” by Na’ilah Suad Nasir