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2006-2008 CNV Cohort - Previous Revision

Benji Chang

Benji Chang is a recent graduate of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education (Urban Schooling), Dr. Chang’s work primarily concerns urban K-12 education, hip-hop, school reform, literacy, social movements, and teacher preparation. He has lectured as a Visiting Scholar to seven research universities in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.  His work has been published in journals and books, and honored with awards in Ethnic Studies and Education.  He is currently the Director of Youth & Parent Leadership at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), the nation’s largest Asian American civil rights organization.  He is also writing a book about the 10-year journey of teaching and activism he underwent with a cohort of multiethnic students and their families in Los Angeles Chinatown.

Mentor Mentor:  Carol Lee, Northwestern University


Alanna Rochelle Dail

Alanna Rochelle Dail, assistant professor in the Reading and Language Arts Center of Syracuse University, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy and elementary reading methods courses. Her research interests focus on early literacy instruction and family literacy.  She served of project director and principal investigator of two Early Reading First grants awarded to the University of Alabama.  Based on these work, Dail has published articles in Literacy Teaching and Learning, Childhood Education, Reading Horizons, and Educational Researcher. Currently, she is on the editorial review board of The Journal of Children’s Literature.

Mentor:  JoBeth Allen, University of Georgia


Marcelle Haddix

Marcelle Haddix is an assistant professor of English Education in the School of Education at Syracuse University.  She completed her PhD in Education with an emphasis in Literacy, Language, and Learning at Boston College. Her background includes work as a secondary English language arts teacher, college administrator, composition instructor, and teacher educator.  Dr. Haddix is a critical English Educator who focuses on how to best prepare all teachers for working in culturally and linguistically diverse settings.  Dr. Haddix also directs the Writing Our Lives project, a program geared toward supporting the writing practices of urban youth within and beyond school contexts.  A highlight of this project is the annual Youth Writing Conference that brings together middle and high school students, teachers, university faculty, and community members.

Mentor:  Arnetha Ball, Stanford University


Jason G. Irizarry

Jason G. Irizarry is an Assistant Professor of Multicultural Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Near School of Education and Faculty Associate in the Institute for Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at the University of Connecticut.  He received his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005 and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in multicultural education, culturally responsive curriculum development, urban education, and participatory action research.  A former middle school teacher in New York City, his research focuses on urban teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention with an emphasis on increasing the number of teachers of color, culturally responsive pedagogy, youth participatory action research, and Latino students in U.S. schools.  A central focus of his work involves promoting the academic achievement of youth in urban schools by addressing issues associated with teacher education.  Manuscripts documenting the findings of his research have been published or accepted for publication in a variety of peer-reviewed journals in the field including Education and Urban Society, Teachers College Record, Multicultural Perspectives, the Journal of Latinos and Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, and the Centro Journal of Puerto Rican Studies and others appearing as chapters in various books.  He is also the author of The Laicization of U.S. Schools: Successful Teaching and Learning in Shifting Cultural Contexts (Paradigm Publishers, 2011).

Mentor:  Maria Torres-Guzman, Teachers College Columbia University


Tambra O. Jackson

Tambra O. Jackson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education at the University of South Carolina. She earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from Miami University (Oxford, OH); a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana Wesleyan University; and a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy from Michigan State University.  She has been a professional educator for over 15 years. She is a former elementary teacher, professional development specialist and education research assistant.

Mentor:  Sonia Nieto, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


David E. Kirkland

David E. Kirkland is a transdisciplinary scholar of English and urban education, who explores the intersections among urban youth culture, language and literacy, urban teacher preparation, and digital media.  He analyzes culture, language, and texts, and has expertise in critical literary, ethnographic, and sociolinguistic research methods.  He has received many awards for his work, including the 2008 AERA Division G Outstanding Dissertation Award and was a 2009-10 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and is a former fellow of NCTE’s Cultivating New Voices. Dr. Kirkland has published widely.  His most recent articles include: “‘Black Skin, White Masks’: Normalizing Whiteness and the Trouble with the Achievement Gap” (TCRecord), “English (es) in urban contexts: Politics, Pluralism, and Possibilities” (English Education), and “We real cool: Examining Black males and literacy” (Reading Research Quarterly). He is currently completing his fourth book, A Search Past Silence, to be published through Teacher College Press‘s Language and Literacy Series. Dr. Kirkland believes that, in their language and literacies, youth take on new meanings beginning with a voice and verb, where words when spoken or written have the power to transform the world inside-out. 

Mentor:  Anne Haas Dyson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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Kafi Kumasi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University. Her research and teaching areas of interest include: school libraries, multicultural education, research methods, and adolescent literacy. Dr. Kumasi has published articles in interdisciplinary publication venues spanning Library and Information Science and Education. Her most recent research project on cultural competence and LIS education received the 2011 ALISE Best Conference Paper Award and will be featured in the October 2011 issue of the Journal for Library and Information Science Educators.

Mentor:  Violet Harris, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Django Paris

Django Paris is assistant professor of English at Arizona State University, where he teaches in the English Education and Applied Linguistics programs. He received his B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, his M.A. in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University, and his  Ph.D. in English Education/Literacy Studies with a minor in Applied Linguistics from Stanford University. He spent six years as an English language arts teacher in California, Arizona, and the Dominican Republic before entering graduate school. Paris is also the associate director of the Bread Loaf School of English, a summer graduate program of Middlebury College.

Mentor:  Juan Guerra, University of Washington



Detra Price-Dennis is an Assistant Professor in Language and Literacy Studies in the School of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. As a teacher educator, Price-Dennis focuses her work on transformative literacy pedagogies that seek to create and sustain equitable learning environments for all students. She is interested in the sociopolitical and sociocultural aspects of literacy learning and engagement among middle childhood students, as well as teacher preparation. Her research interests also include critical perspectives on children’s and young adult literature.
Mentor:  Valerie Kinloch, The Ohio State University

Mary Alexandra Rojas received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2010. Her scholarly interests are poststructuralist feminist theorizing, curriculum, identity constructions, US Latino identifies and literatures, and English education. Her most recent publication is a co-authored piece called “(R) eframing Teaching in Urban Classrooms: A Postructuralist (Re) reading of Critical Literacy as Curricular and Pedagogical Practice in Urban Literacies: Critical Perspectives on Language, Learning and Community" (Kinloch, ed. 2011). She may be reached at

Mentor:  Colleen Fairbanks, University of North Carolina

MARIANA SOUTO-MANNING is Associate Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a former preschool and primary grades teacher and now teaches courses related to early literacy and multicultural education. She is author of Freire, Teaching, and Learning: Culture Circles Across Contexts, co-author of Teachers Act up!: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities through Theatre, and co-editor of Sites of Possibility: Critical Dialogue across Educational Settings. From a critical perspective, her research examines the sociocultural and historical foundations of early schooling, language development, and literacy practices in pluralistic settings. She studies how children, families, and teachers from diverse backgrounds shape and is shaped by discursive practices. Her work can be found in journals such as Early Child Development and Care, Early Childhood Education Journal, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Research in the Teaching of English, English Education, Language Arts and Teachers College Record. She is a recipient of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Language and Social Processes Early Career Award (2008), the AERA Early Education and Child Development Early Research Career Award (2009), the National Council for Research on Language and Literacy (NCRLL) Early Researcher Career Award (2009), the Kappa Delta Pi/AERA Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education) Early Career Award (2010), and AERA Division K Innovations in Research on Diversity in Teacher Education Award (2011).
Mentor:  Celia Genishi, Teachers College Columbia University
Veronica E. Valdez is an assistant professor in the Department of Education, Culture and Society at the University of Utah.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialty in Multilingual Studies: Bilingual Education and Early Childhood Education.  Her research focuses on the sociocultural/political/historical factors (i.e., race, language ideologies, language policies, language education programs, immigration, and generational status) that contribute to or constrain bilingualism and biliteracy in young culturally and linguistically diverse children within their families, schools and communities and how these stakeholders' efforts intersect and mediate these factors.

Mentor:  Carmen Mercado, Hunter College

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