My research interests are rooted in my early professional experiences as a high school social studies teacher in Brooklyn, NY. My students taught me to critically consider how diverse out of school factors, such as the needs and assets of their neighborhoods, seeped into our classroom. Faced with bright and resourceful students, but also an ever changing student roster, high rates of asthma and medical needs, and students living in cars, doubling up with friends, and coming to school hungry, I became increasingly interested in the broader geographic, social, and policy contexts which shaped the lives of my students and their families in complex ways.
Where and how were my students living? How did housing policies interact with educational policies to shape their schooling experiences? Did they have access to primary care doctors, safe parks, or healthy food? What community resources and assets were available? How could schools leverage these resources to better support students in poverty?
With unanswered questions, I moved to the United Kingdom to study social policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Afterwards, I worked as a researcher on diverse social policy projects for a London-based consultancy company whose clients included central government, local authorities, non-profits, health trusts, and school/early years centers. While living in South West London, I also served on the governing body and chaired the Achievement Committee of a local high-poverty elementary school. The governing body was a premier example of school-community collaboration; I worked alongside school leaders, neighborhood stakeholders, and parents in an effort to monitor and advance outcomes for low income students.
Upon returning to the states, I was a Senior Policy Analyst for a family homelessness and poverty institute where I specialized in educational issues. This work led me to pursue my doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where my interests in the social contexts of education deepened.
I joined the faculty at Southern Methodist University in August 2015 and currently live in Dallas, Texas.
In my free time, I enjoy bike riding, yoga, traveling, eating good food, and spending quality time with friends and family.