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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development

Shelley Zion

Exec. Director: Center for Advancing Practice, Education, and Research

My Story

My career in education began not in schools, but as a social worker with youth who had been adjudicated delinquent. I found myself working with amazing young people, with brilliant minds, who had never experienced success or connection in school. I realized that the one place that all children must come is to school, and that working to improve schools in ways that ensure the unique strengths, skills, and experience that all children bring are valued, respected, and used to facilitate their participating in society was the best way to provide access for my kids. I enrolled in the Ph.D. program and the University of Colorado Denver, graduating in 2007.

My work has focused on three levels: on a policy level, I work with school leaders to improve and inform the ways that schools are constructed so that they provide equitable opportunities for all students; as an educator I teach both inservice and preservice teachers to understand the influence of culture and class, power and privilege on the curriculum, pedagogy, and practices they employ; and finally, with students to join marginalized students in empowerment and emancipation- so that students learn who they are, what they want, and how to get it.

My Students at CU Denver

I taught classes in the initial teacher licensure program at CU Denver for nearly seven years, before transitioning to teaching in the Leadership for Educational Equity Doctoral Program in 2009. I also teach MA level coursework related to critical pedagogy and student voice, and through my work in Continuing and Professional Education am responsible for developing programs for in-service teachers and school leaders to improve and expand their skills and practice.

Classes I have taught at CU Denver

  • Working with Families and Communities - LSC 5180
  • Race, Class, and Culture in Urban Schools - LLC 5170
  • Negotiating the Classroom Culture with Children/Adolescents - IPTE 4120/5120
  • Collaborating in Schools and Communities - SPED 5300
  • Teaching for the Success of All Children - SPED 5112
  • Barriers and Opportunities for Critical Pedagogy and Transformative Student Voice: In the Interest of Educational Equity - DESP 8994
  • Critical Pedagogy and Transformative Student Voice - SECE 5030
  • Creating Learning Environments and Curriculum for Student-Driven Action Research - UCTE 5810
  • Social Construction of Difference: Power & Privilege in Urban Schools - DSEP 6170
  • Analyzing Qualitative Data Through a Critical Lens - DSEP 7830

Research interests

  • Educational Equity- Race, Class, Culture, Power and Privilege
  • Urban School Reform and Systems Change
  • Student Voice and Engagement

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