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 The spring and summer of 2020 have drastically changed the landscape of public education. A global pandemic caused schools to rapidly shift to online learning. Urgent calls for racial justice have resonated with stakeholders across metropolitan Richmond, just as they have across the country and the world. When students return to school this fall, in any format, it will be to a different educational climate than the one they abruptly left in the spring. In a time of physical distancing, it is more important than ever to find ways to connect across critical issues facing our students and educators. In that spirit, the 2020 Conference of the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium will be held online with a renewed emphasis on collaboration across educational research, practice, and policy. 

Sessions will each center around one prominent question in our current sociopolitical context. Potential topics include:

How can we best support the mental health of students and educators across K12?

How do we promote digital equity in urban and rural communities?

What can schools do to promote racial justice?

What does culturally responsive teaching look like during remote learning?

How do we best meet the needs of English Learners and special education students?

What does high school graduation and college access look like in the time of COVID-19?

How has the teaching profession been impacted by COVID-19?

How can we support parent and family engagement during remote learning?

What does school and division leadership look like in a digital age?

What can we do to support student motivation and achievement in these uncertain times?

Each session will include a moderator and a series of speakers offering brief (5-10 minute) talks on the topic, but will primarily focus on active engagement with participants to share research, resources, struggles, and ideas. Our goal is to provide space for people to connect, learn, and strategize together so we can all be equipped to meet the rapidly evolving needs of students and educators throughout metropolitan Richmond.

We invite all stakeholders in public education to contribute your voice to these sessions.

Submit your proposal today. All proposals are due by Friday, September 11th. 


 Registration portal in coming early August 2020




16th Annual MERC Conference









The MERC Conference Planning Committee is comprised of representatives from the VCU School of Education as well as each of the seven MERC school divisions. 

VCU School of Education Committee Members

Sandy Ting, Graduate Student - Curriculum, Culture, and Change

Hannah Sions - MERC Research Assistant

Zoey Lu, Graduate Student - Research, Assessment, and Evaluation

Jesse Senechal, MERC Director

David Naff, MERC Assistant Director of Research and Evaluation

     JoAna Smith, Spanish Teacher - Midlothian High School

Andy Armstrong, Executive Director for Business Operations

Cindy Sinanian, Teacher - Elmont Elementary School

Brian Maltby, Disciplinary Hearing Review Officer

Christina Acquilina, Innovative Learning Coach - Shady Grove Elementary School

Drew Baker, Professional Development Specialist

Gwendolyn Price, Director of Research, Testing, and Evaluation

Lynn Clayton-Prince, Director of Special Education

Michelle Boulanger-Thompson, Occupational Therapist 

Kristen Brown, Mentorship Program and Equity Specialist