Personal profile

Research Interests

My research addresses ongoing conversations in the field of early childhood education about culturally sustaining practices in early education. I use sociological theoretical lenses to address questions about relationships between teachers and children and between teachers and families and how those relationships are affected by socio-cultural context and school philosophy. My research specifically targets relationships that can result in the recognition of rights and perspectives of children in educational experiences. My research focuses on two lines of inquiry. The first utilizes the work of both Bernstein and Dewey to examine teachers in schools employing philosophies of progressive early education, targeting how teachers support democratic relationships with children and support learning. My second line of inquiry uses a Bourdieusian lens to examine family engagement, targeting how teachers build non-hierarchical relationships with families, teacher dispositions for engagement, and barriers to relationships teachers and families encounter.


My core philosophy of teaching states that students of all ages should be active learners who have opportunities to co-construct knowledge with peers and with a knowledgeable instructor in a democratic space. My training in the teaching of young children and my early career as a preschool teacher have greatly influenced my teaching of adults. The view of the child as a whole being, active citizen, and an agent in their own learning is foundational to early childhood education but is not a stance that is limited to the teaching of young children. All learners have the right to have an active role in their own learning. As this is the foundation of my teaching philosophy, I support active inquiry in each course I teach. My goal as a course instructor, program coordinator, and mentor is to support students' development of knowledge and skills through learning experiences that are flexible and adaptive to the needs of many different types of students and people. I see teaching as an act of “becoming”; that one never is a teacher, but is always on a journey to become a teacher.

Education/Academic qualification

Urban Systems, Ph.D., Rutgers University

Award Date: May 17 2011

Cultural and Educational Policy Studies, M.A., Loyola University Chicago

Award Date: May 3 2007

Early Childhood Education, B.S., Butler University

Award Date: May 20 2003


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