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Welcome to Expansions!

Volume 1, Issue 1 – Spring/Summer 2017

Photo of Elizabeth Moje

I have the honor of introducing our new School of Education newsletter focused solely on reporting and advancing our work to develop a more diverse, inclusive, just, and equitable (dije) School of Education. Our dije efforts are more than just an initiative undertaken to satisfy a larger university strategy. We see our work as critical to developing dije practices of educators at all levels and in multiple venues. Ultimately, we hope to contribute to producing education systems, learning opportunities, and communities that are similarly diverse, inclusive, just, and equitable.

Expansions is an important step toward improving our communication with one another about this work. As the name implies, at the core of dije is growth; we must create the opportunities to advance beyond our current limits and engage in new practices that shape our society through education. This new tool is, in itself, an expansion, because it helps us to reach all members of our community and to provide resources and information.

Expansions will help us move forward by creating greater transparency and connectedness. Two questions I frequently hear within the community are What is the School of Education actually doing to advance dije? and How do I fit into the dije initiative? These questions indicate the need for greater communication. Because our success is dependent on each member of our community, it is crucial that everyone have frequent access to information about dije work and opportunities to be engaged.

I want to thank Professor Camille Wilson and master’s student Delina Zapata for creating this important communication tool. We look forward to feedback from the community.

– Elizabeth Birr Moje, School of Education Dean

In this Issue

Photo of Camille Wilson

This premier issue of Expansions features a variety of profiles of student, faculty, and staff contributions that enrich the SOE and expand the enactment our diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (dije) commitments. Indeed, the School’s dije efforts are a reflection of our collective work. Previews of upcoming 2017-18 activities are also described, as well as the call for applications for the next SOE Educational Justice intern who will assist with SOE dije programming during the fall 2017 semester!

SOE’s dije Leadership Team
The efforts of all SOE community members are vital to SOE dije work, yet we also have an SOE dije leadership team. That team is comprised of Dean Elizabeth Birr Moje, Dr. Camille Wilson the U-M Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion/dije Implementation Lead for SOE, Drs. Matt Diemer and Henry Meares who are co-chairs of the SOE Education Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), the EDAC members, and Associate Dean Shari Saunders, the faculty liaison for inclusive teaching.

Please feel free to contact any of these leaders with your feedback, questions, concerns, and ideas.

– Camille M. Wilson, School of Education Professor & Expansions Editor

Feature Profile: Professor Percy Bates

Photo of Percy Bates

This spring the SOE will bid farewell to Professor Percy Bates who is retiring after 52 years of service and leadership to the University of Michigan. Professor Bates was a full-time lecturer in the School of Education for several years before earning his PhD in 1968 in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Special Education. Upon graduating he was offered a position as a professor and thus began his legacy at U-M where over the years he has been a SOE professor, chair of the former special education department, assistant dean, and U-M athletics representative. He has also been a director of many offices and programs including the former Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA), Programs for Educational Opportunity (Desegregation/Equity Assistance Center), and the Lives of Urban Children and Youth (LUCY) Program. While on leave from U-M, Professor Bates also held a yearlong position as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Special Education with the United States Department of Education in Washington, DC of which he is particularly proud.

Read more about Percy Bates

In an April 2017 interview, Professor Bates reflected on his vast career. He shared that he was originally drawn to education because, “Early on it was clear to me that there was some joy and some reinforcement from taking people from where they were to where they wanted to be…. I was often drawn to those situations where help was needed, which plays well with the teaching profession.” He added, “That is the most rewarding—to start with a problem and hang around long enough to see a partial or complete solution.” When asked what he would like his students to remember about him and his work at SOE, he stated:

“I think I would want students to somehow feel that I had a commitment to them being successful…(successful) not much in terms of the grade you get or the paper you write; it has to do with the feeling that you create in a student that says, ‘I am not only someone here that wants to teach you something, but I want you to be successful.’ It’s not only your responsibility but it is my responsibility, that’s what I want them to take away, that I was committed to them.”

Professor Bates also offered some words of advice for current and aspiring educators explaining, “No matter what obstacles that you encounter you have to keep your eye on the main goal of education, that is to make sure that the people in your charge are getting the best possible education. There will certainly be obstacles, we cannot be distracted by these obstacles. Keep your eyes on the prize.”

After retiring Professor Bates hopes to eventually write a book on “what I’ve learned, roads I have traveled, places I’ve been, things I’ve done, and what I make out of it at the end of the line.” He also plans to “recreate a bit and play a little golf, and a little tennis,” and enjoy his “ride off into the sunset.”

As Professor Bates prepares for his retirement we thank him for his invaluable contributions to SOE, U-M, and the field of education. He has achieved much and influenced so many lives for the better given his commitment to dije values and practices. SOE doctoral student Ebony Perouse-Harvey, who had the opportunity to apprentice a class with Professor Bates, described him as an “extraordinary mentor and a wealth of special education knowledge.” She added, “Our numerous conversations centered around the future of teacher education for general and special educators and inclusive instruction for students with disabilities. He challenged me to approach my interests from multiple perspectives, which I truly appreciate.” Kelsey Carey, a graduating Master’s student in Educational Leadership and Policy stated: “Being in Dr. Bates' classroom always made me feel at home here at U-M. He is a professor with so much knowledge and experience, but he imparts it so humbly. He is genuinely invested in his students' futures, and it shows in all he does.” 

In addition, Dr. Henry Meares, SOE Assistant Dean, shared: "I've had the pleasure of working with Percy and enjoying his friendship for almost 20 years. In all my experience and dealing with educational systems, higher ed included, I find Percy to be one of the most knowledgeable, and certainly the most strategic at applying simple and practical solutions to complex issues...he's good at it." Finally, Dr. Maren Oberman, Director of SOE’s Educational Leadership and Policy Master’s Program, stressed that Professor Bates has “exemplified leadership and advocacy, from brief hallway conversations, to important meetings, and in interactions with students. He is thoughtful, humble, helpful, and straightforward. I am honored to have had a brief chance to work with him and learn from him at the end of a truly distinguished career." Indeed, Professor Bates is deeply appreciated and will be greatly missed by students and faculty and staff colleagues across the SOE and the university.

Want to know more about Dr. Bates? Please see his bio and CV at: http://www.soe.umich.edu/people/profile/percy_bates.

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SOE dije 2016-17 Award Winners

In May 2017, the first School of Education dije awards were given to students, faculty, and staff members to recognize their demonstrated commitment to advancing diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity in all aspects of their professional work. Their efforts benefit the SOE community and/or broader campus and local communities in significant ways that align with the SOE mission. Award winners were nominated by others and chosen by members of the SOE Education Diversity Advisory Council (EDAC) who reviewed and deliberated over an impressive pool of nominees. This was the inaugural year of the SOE dije Awards, which will now be presented annually. We congratulate the winners and highlight comments from their nomination statements below.

Undergraduate Student Winner: Mr. Lawrence Teng, Rising Senior

Photo of Lawrence Teng

Lawrence Teng is a rising senior majoring in Mathematics with Teacher Certification. He aims to become a high school mathematics teacher to guide students to understand mathematics concepts, find joy and opportunity in the subject, and see themselves as competent doers of mathematics. He then hopes to build on this experience and conduct research to improve mathematics education on a larger scale. Teng is currently the president of STEM Society, a student organization at U-M whose mission is to create and teach interactive lessons to help high school students— particularly those from low socioeconomic status communities—become more interested in and excited about STEM fields. He is also an active participant in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Children & Youth Program, an annual campus event.

Excerpt from Nomination:
"I believe that Mr. Teng shows great promise as an educational researcher. He is deeply committed to educational equity and social justice, and has carefully constructed a path that will enable him to build the requisite skills so that he can be a successful and thoughtful academic." 

Graduate Student Winner: Ms. Erika Mendez, Master’s Student in Educational Leadership and Policy

Photo of Erika Mendez

Erika Mendez is a Master’s Student in the School of Education. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She is in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis program with a focus on understanding the ways school spaces more reflective of the values and experiences of under-served communities. Prior to UM, Erika attended Beloit College in Wisconsin where she earned her BA in Sociology and Political Science. During her time in Beloit, Erika worked in the Equity Department at the School District of Beloit. Erika is interested in examining the more effective ways of including student out-of-school challenges, values, and home community in school spaces.

Excerpt from Nomination:
“I was greatly intrigued by (Erika’s) prior experience in her role as an Assistant Equity Officer for a city that was ill-equipped to effectively engage an emerging Latino population. In that role, she helped to demystify and rectify the perception of low parental involvement by Latinos. To do so, she spent time fostering relationships and developing programming that would engage these parents in ways that were meaningful and feasible to them—building on the parents' practices at home that were otherwise invisible to the schools their children attended. I believed, correctly, that Erika would challenge us (SOE researchers) to make meaningful links between the basic research questions we are posing and their practical implications for families and family-school connections, which is always at the center of her thinking.”

Graduate Student Winner: Ms. Naomi Wilson, Rising 3rd Year Doctoral Student in Educational Foundations and Policy

Photo of Naomi Wilson

Naomi Wilson is a rising 3rd year doctoral student in the Educational Studies’ Foundations and Policy program. Her research is inspired by Black youth activists and explores their voice within community organizing and what she terms "repressive schooling". Naomi is also a campus leader having served as chair of multiple Black student organizations, a mentor, and she is the newly elected President of the U-M’s Rackham Student Government (RSG).

Excerpt from Nomination:
“Though she has only been at U-M for two years she has already made an impact through her presence, her voice, and her example...” She is committed to continuing “her work within DE&I (U-M Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives) not only in the SOE but across campus; to ensure that graduate students stay attentive to the to the DE&I initiatives begun by the university administration; and, to continue the ongoing struggle to make this campus a more supportive, welcoming, and inclusive place for traditionally marginalized students.”

Faculty Winner: Dr. Debi Khasnabis, Clinical Assistant Professor of Education & Member of the Mitchell Scarlett Teaching and Learning Collaborative

Photo of Debi Khasnabis

Debi Khasnabis teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in multicultural and multilingual education in the Elementary Teacher Education program. Khasnabis is a member of the Mitchell Scarlett Teaching and Learning Collaborative (MSTLC), a strategic partnership between the University of Michigan School of Education and the Ann Arbor Public Schools. She has been involved in several initiatives aimed at designing and enacting collaborative projects between the Ann Arbor Public Schools and SOE Teacher Education programs as a part of this initiative. Khasnabis earned her PhD in educational studies with a concentration in literacy, language, and culture from the University of Michigan. Prior to pursuing doctoral study, she was an upper elementary bilingual teacher in Detroit, Michigan.

Excerpt from Nomination: “Debi weaves a tapestry that highlights and manifests the assets of our own SOE students, K-12 students, and families and communities in her teaching. It is in her teaching that she shines especially bright, building our (teacher) interns’ capacities to see, recognize, and work for equity and justice in this world, and as professionals. She works in fantastically innovative ways to weave together opportunities for her students to learn to do good work, work that is responsible, affirmative, skilled, and fundamentally equitable.”

Faculty Winner: Dr. Maisie Gholson, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

Photo of Maisie Gholson

Maisie Gholson’s research focuses on the participation and developmental trajectories of Black boys and girls in mathematics classrooms. She deals explicitly with issues of race and gender, along with the theoretical and methodological challenges that these complex constructs entail. As a former classroom teacher of mathematics, her interests include the functioning (e.g., enduring meanings, emergent meanings, performances) of race and gender at interactional levels, i.e., the phenomenon of doing mathematics while Black and being a boy or girl. She has additionally chosen to delve into how Black children construct their social worlds. That is, Gholson has decided to actively investigate that which is often dismissed as superfluous to mathematics—children’s social relationships and networks. A driving force in her research is to foreground children’s and adolescents’ humanity, i.e., to take seriously the constructed racialized and gendered backdrop of childhood and adolescence as a visceral context in the process of mathematics identity development. She is a National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellow and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in STEM Education. Gholson received her PhD in curriculum and instruction, as well as her MA in educational studies, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and her BS in electrical engineering from Duke University

Excerpt from Nomination:
Dr. Gholson “has enriched and deepened its (The Race and Educational Inequality Professional Development Seminar’s (REIPDS)) impact on the SOE community. In a relatively short period of time, the speakers she has identified and the topics they have addressed have piqued our interest, challenged our assumptions and interpretations, and enhanced the ways in which we conceptualize teaching or research. Maisie is a wonderful gift to our community, not only through her work on this Symposium Series, but also through the many other ways she touches students' lives and serves as a resourceful faculty colleague.”

Staff Winner: Dr. Simona Goldin, TeachingWorks Director of Instructional Design for Seminars and Special Projects & SOE Instructor

Photo of Simona Goldin

Simona Goldin is the Director of Instructional Design for Seminars and Special Projects, and the Editor of TeachingWorks' working papers repository.Her research interests include the relationship between policy and practice, efforts to improve teaching and learning in urban schools, and the work that students do in classrooms to learn. Her early work on studenting examined historically rooted arguments about the activities and tasks that students must engage in to learn, and examined how educators, theorists, researchers, and sociologists have understood studenting.

More recently, she has studied ways to transform the preparation of beginning teachers to teach in more equitable ways, and has elaborated the teaching practices that bridge children’s work in schools on academic content with their home and community-based experiences. With colleagues, she has designed and studied innovative instructional resources and unique opportunities–namely, home visits, performance assessments, and new pedagogies of teacher education. Across each of these has been the focus on supporting novice teachers’ capabilities to develop instructionally rich, respectful relationships with families. With her colleagues, Goldin has presented and written widely about this research.

Goldin holds a master’s degree in management and urban policy analysis from the New School University and a PhD in educational studies from the University of Michigan. Goldin teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at the school of education at the University of Michigan.

Excerpt from Nomination:
“In our pursuit of social justice focused scholarship, we have commonly come upon real barriers, because we work within structural inequality itself... As a (SOE) research partner, I always know that Simona will weigh in on these issues on the side of justice. She is attentive to whose voice has historically been silenced and she will go the extra mile to ensure that she, as a scholar and practitioner, is doing what she can to ensure safety and inclusion.”

U-M PILOT’s Undergraduate Students Enhancing School-Community Outreach

Photo of Pilot program attendees

PILOT is a U-M undergraduate student organization founded in 2010 to bring together diverse students dedicated to leadership development and community building. They aim to make their presence as students of color committed to helping students better navigate and contribute to U-M seen and felt. PILOT members, with the support of graduate student mentors from the School of Education, design and execute a range of campus programs and community outreach projects related to social issues, networking, and K-12 school outreach. This past April, PILOT developed the Dreams2Reality event, which involved PILOT members working with regional high school freshman and sophomores to offer college planning assistance, build social and political awareness about current events, and nurture the high school students’ sense of empowerment as they contemplate their academic futures.

Read more about PILOT

Photo of discussion group

On the day of the Dreams2Reality event, students from Detroit’s Cesar Chavez Academy and Dearborn’s Fordson High School visited U-M with transportation that PILOT arranged. The high schools are both highly impacted by poverty and serve a majority of Latina/o and Arab American students, respectively. PILOT members and high school students joined together to engage in activities and workshops related to social identity development and college preparation, the visiting students also toured U-M’s central campus and met with University staff and graduate students for a great day of learning and interaction.

Photo of shirt that says 'I'm coming for everything they said I couldn't have'

PILOT members plan to build upon the Dreams2Reality event to launch a larger mentoring program in fall 2017 that will involve members working with high school students throughout grades 9-12 and offering peer counseling advice to students. The peer counseling will aim to help students select classes and participate in extracurricular activities and organizations that help them become more competitive U-M undergraduate applicants. 

Stay tuned! For more information about PILOT, see: http://www.pilotumich.com/dreams2reality.html.

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Fostering Safety, Inclusion and Justice for Immigrant, Refugee, and Other Vulnerable Students

An important highlight of SOE’s dije-related programming during the 2016-17 school year was a colloquium on Fostering Safety, Inclusion and Justice for Immigrant, Refugee, and Other Vulnerable Students, which SOE and the U-M Law School co-sponsored. The colloquium, held on March 24, was an event organized to advance our dije commitments and respond to community needs during our tense and uncertain political times. It was also an event that followed up on a SOE Community Conversation event held in February on the same topic, which nearly 50 students, staff, and faculty members attended. The March Colloquium featured a panel of student, staff, and faculty speakers who drew upon their professional expertise, and in some cases their first-hand experiences, with immigration matters in education, law, policy, and everyday life. The panelists offered powerful insights that spurred a provocative and educative dialogue about pressing educational, political, and legal issues related to federal initiatives targeting undocumented immigrants and calling for travel bans, border walls, and increased deportation efforts. Panelists also shared critical perspectives about developing practical strategies that educators can enact for supporting PreK-12 and postsecondary students in our community who have been immediately affected by the recent, federal initiatives and policies.

Photo of dije panaelists

Read more about the Colloquium

Panelist Dr. Debi Khasnabis asserted that: “The reality is their (students’) safety needs to be the first priority, and I think there should be really thoughtful care on how we navigate this conversation with community members. We should not be making any of these decisions, any of these plans, without talking to people who are living through these real risks.” In addition, Dr. Mark Kamimura-Jimenez acknowledged that, at U-M, “the way in which we think about diversity and inclusion have been challenged,” further stating, “Michigan is being challenged with embodying the true definitions of inclusion, like what does it mean to really be in an inclusive space?” Student panelists Mr. Nasr Abdo and Ms. Christian Martell both emphasized the necessity of turning thoughtful conversations into action. While Dr. Bridgette Carr added that “those of us who are privileged to have resources need to figure out ways to bridge that gap for those who don’t.”

We would like to thank and recognize our panelists!

Panelists pictured (from left to right):

Dr. Mark Kamimura-Jimenez, Assistant Dean of Rackham Graduate School
Mr. Nasr Abdo, master's student in Educational Studies
Ms. Christian A. Martell, doctoral student in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education
Dr. Debi Khasnabis, Clinical Assistant Professor of Education
Dr. Bridgette Carr, Clinical Professor of Law and the Founding Director of the U-M Law School Human Trafficking Clinic

The SOE dije leadership team looks forward to continuing programming and supporting equity-oriented action on these matters in the coming academic year. A video of the colloquium and a resource guide that SOE community members can use to assist students can be accessed at the links below.

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SOE Community (Still)Outspoken in 2017

Outspoken is an exciting event held each year that showcases the perspectives and talents of SOE’s diverse community. It occurs during SOE’s Campus Visit Day in March. The event is sponsored by SOE’s student organization Becoming Educators of Tomorrow (BET). Outspoken originated four years ago when former BET co-chairs Alaina Neal and Natalie Davis were concerned that the typical panel discussion about diversity was not enough to capture the fullness of what it meant to be a part of the SOE community. They hoped a showcase event would help move SOE community members from talking about diversity to “doing diversity.” Outspoken is now a much anticipated and enjoyed event that helps build community and enrich dije-related awareness.

During Outspoken, students, staff, faculty members, and audience members convey their talents, critical reflections, and social commentary through performing short skits, singing, poetry, spoken word, storytelling, etc. Naomi Wilson, who co-organized the 2017 (Still)Outspoken showcase with fellow doctoral student Paulina Fraser, reflected on the event. She explained, “It allows space to speak your truth on whatever you feel, openly, about diversity, gender, sexuality, anything. It is meant to make you feel comfortable and confident.” Additionally, Outspoken provides a meaningful opportunity for SOE community members to gather in both an academic and social environment and see themselves reflected. Wilson elucidated that by saying, “This one event is a catalyst to make people feel comfortable and connect professors, advisors, and students as they speak their truth. It creates a network and community.” Indeed, Outspoken is a phenomenal event and we would like to recognize the 2017 performers, including students Kimberly Ransom, Asya Harrison, Christina Morton, Channing Matthews, Anna Shapiro, Jennifer Pollard, Charles Wilkes, Gabriel DellaVecchia, Paulina Fraser, Naomi Wilson and Nicolas Boileau; faculty members Pat King, Pat Herbst, Vilma Mesa, and Debi Khasnabis; and staff member Simona Goldin.

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On the Horizon: A Preview of Upcoming dije Activities

We look forward to beginning the 2017-18 school year a with a few new activities to invite greater SOE-wide dialogue, awareness, and feedback on dije matters and help students with dije-related curriculum planning. We will also maintain a structured, immersive opportunity for students to help plan and implement dije programs and policies.

  • First, we will launch regular dije Community Conversations open to all SOE community members that serve as an information sharing and dialogue session about SOE dije We hope to also feature an artistic performance by a student, faculty or staff member (inspired by the success and value of our BET’s annual Outspoken event).
  • The SOE calendar, which is posted on the SOE website, will also highlight dije-related events, including those that faculty, staff, and students submit.
  • Graduate students will be invited to help develop a peer advising guide for dije-related cognate course selection. Meetings will be held with undergraduate students to make plans to offer them helpful curriculum and instruction assistance too.
  • The next SOE Educational Justice interns will be appointed for the fall 2017 and winter 2018 semesters, and they will be able to receive course credit for their service.
  • Much, much, more!

(See the SOE dije web page at http://www.soe.umich.edu/diversity for a sample of SOE Diversity, Inclusion, Justice, & Equity (dije) Activities: 2016-17.)

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Fall 2017 Educational Justice Internship & Independent Study Opportunity

At the School of Education, our effort to study and improve educational practice, policy and the contexts of teaching and learning is inseparable from our determination to develop more effective and socially just education systems. We would like to offer a continuing SOE graduate student the opportunity to assist and learn about our justice-oriented efforts through a fall 2017 internship that can be taken for academic credit.

Applications due Friday, September 8, 2017 by 5 p.m. For more information and application materials, visit http://www.soe.umich.edu/diversity/internship.

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Photo of Delina Zapata

Thank you to Delina Zapata, the outgoing, and first, SOE Educational Justice Intern! Delina lent valuable assistance throughout the winter 2017 semester to a variety of dije efforts and programming, including the SOE Colloquium, the resource guide on fostering safety and inclusion for immigrant and other vulnerable students, SOE dije award reviews, and the Expansions newsletter. She approached all of her service and learning with great enthusiasm, commitment, and care. Delina is a rising second year Master's student in the Educational Leadership and Policy program. Prior to Michigan, she graduated with a BA in Sociology from DePaul University in her hometown of Chicago. She has also worked with the AmeriCorps Jumpstart program and served as a McNair scholar at the University of California Berkeley and Stanford University before coming to U-M. AT U-M, she completed a research internship with Dr. Deborah Rivas-Drake’s Contexts of Academic and Social Adjustment (CASA) Lab, where she explored issues related to the academic and social outcomes of Latino families in East Michigan. Likewise, her research interests relate to education in the Latino community, specifically, policies that can help mend the academic achievement disparities affecting low-income Chicana/o students. We wish her a wonderful summer and continued success!

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Production Credits

Expansions was edited and written by SOE Professor Camille M. Wilson and Ms. Delina Zapata, the winter 2017 SOE Educational Justice Intern. The layout and graphic design was done by Liz Dean, SOE Web Administrator, and Jake Salazar, SOE Web Operations Manager.

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