I was born in Montana and raised in a tiny working-class, working-poor rural area in the northwest corner of the state. My early life was lived between the tension of an active outdoor, rural life on a ranch and the desire to spend every free moment with my nose in a book. My mother was the perfect model for both of those behaviors.
My roots have been a strength and have also offered interesting challenges in my life. As a rural, working-class woman, I was socialized into a certain identity and discourse that did not always fit well within a middle or upper-middle class context. As a first-generation college graduate, I learned how to fit into different social contexts through an observe and learn, trial and error process. Though this was not always easy, it nurtured an important set of skills and developed an early awareness of the often invisible, power-saturated, socially constructed patterns of living that marginalize and privilege.
I taught both special education and general education in a culturally and economically diverse elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska. Working in special education brought the relationship between diversity and marginalization into the center of my life. I found children in my special education classes to be the most economically fragile children in the school and, disproportionately, children of color. Questions of how and why this happens launched me into a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee where I studied urban education, focusing on curriculum and teacher education. While I went into the doctoral program hoping for answers, in truth, I found both the questions and possible solutions to be incredibly complex and multifaceted.
The question of how to prepare educators for powerful teaching in a diverse society dominated my scholarship and teaching while I was an assistant and associate professor at The Ohio State University. My research focused on the experiences and mediation important in supporting critical consciousness, bi-cultural or multicultural competency, and a culturally relevant approach to teaching in prospective teachers. Much of this work was centered in a community-based internship that was part of a partnership between our teacher education program and a large African American Baptist church.
As a new associate dean in the School of Education & Human Development, I find that my commitments to teacher education and preparing teachers for a diverse society have a rich history in the work of the school – in commitments to collaborating with schools and community partners and in a rigorous and carefully scaffolded curriculum that focuses on social justice. I look forward to learning and growing with the incredible faculty and staff here.