Associate Professor of Education at Wellesley College
Explores school-community relationships in K-12 urban schools with an emphasis on race, immigration, and culture.
I am interested in the relationships between schools and the communities they serve, particularly in urban communities of color. While we may typically view educational reform through school-centered efforts, I explore the role of families and communities, particularly through models that emphasize parent leadership, community organizing and democratic forms of participation. My book, A Cord of Three Strands: A New Approach to Parent Engagement in Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2011) explores the role of community organizing efforts to transform public education in Chicago and demonstrates how these participatory models can reframe our conceptualization of parent engagement in schools.
I am currently working on a book project that explores the experiences of five urban teachers who have found innovative and authentic ways to engage their students’ families and communities. It features discussions of culture and community, the deep-rooted histories of the teacher-parent relationship and the necessity of confronting racism, distrust, and misunderstanding when partnership and collaboration is the goal.
At Wellesley, I teach Education and Social Policy, capstone seminars on urban education and immigration as well as first-year seminar, Understanding Diversity and Promoting Equity in Schools. Given our close proximity to Boston and a guiding belief that the community is our most valuable classroom, my students often gain valuable experiences in schools and community agencies as part of their course learning. I am a former elementary and middle school teacher; that experience guides my commitment to action-oriented research.
I feel fortunate the enjoy both the vibrant life of the city as a Boston resident as well as the beauty of this campus everyday. I enjoy listening to audiobooks and taking walks around Lake Waban. I’m a rabid basketball fan who follows the NBA as a Celtics fan and the world of youth basketball as mother to two impressive young point guards.