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As a junior at Monacan High School in Chesterfield County Public SchoolsTrace Broyles is highly invested in promoting student empowerment. We talked with him about his service to his school, and what his expectations are as an aspiring biology teacher for how public education will look when he enters the profession.

As an associate professor of leadership studies and philosophy, economics, and law at the University of Richmond, and Senior Policy Advisor for Opportunity to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Thad Williamson is highly involved in local efforts to address issues related to poverty and supporting Richmond Public Schools. We talked about the intersection of poverty and education and the importance of taking a holistic approach to supporting our students.

As a senior in the Specialty Center for Education and Human Development at Glen Allen High School in Henrico County Public SchoolsLauren Grob serves students of varying levels of performance in local elementary and middle schools. We talked with her about supporting the development of students and the importance of communicating high expectations when promoting achievement in the classroom.

Alexis Goode is a freshman at Virginia State University studying pre-veterinary science and a former graduate of George Wythe High School in Richmond Public Schools. We talked with her about her experiences as a first-generation college student, her time with Partnership for the Future, and her transition into postsecondary education.

As a senior at Armstrong High School in Richmond Public SchoolsAsia Jefferson served as the president of her junior class, participated in the Samuel D Proctor Conference on Social Injustices, and supported local efforts to address food deserts in Richmond. We talked with her about the challenges of balancing school with work and service to her community.

As a son, grandson, nephew and great grandson of public school teachers, as well as a graduate of the public school system, Scott Barlow currently serves as the School Board Representative for the second district in Richmond Virginia. We talked about the role of local government in supporting public schools.

As the Director of Student Support and Disciplinary Review for Henrico County Public Schools, William Noel Sr. oversees student discipline for the school division. He previously served as a substitute teacher, alternative education teacher, social studies teacher, and coach. We talked about the evolution of school disciplinary policies and practices.

A product of Richmond Public SchoolsCynthia (Cyndi) Carney-Robinson serves as an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for RPS, and formerly served as a high school teacher in the division. Her work includes providing professional development and supporting teachers at Miles JonesSwansboro, and Greene Elementary School. We talked about the expectations placed on teachers and the gaps that exist in access to technology.

As the Director of Equity and Student Support Services for Chesterfield County Public SchoolsTameshia Grimes supervises CCPS leaders in the areas of school counseling, school psychology, school social work, student health, Title III, Early Childhood Special Education, Head Start, Virginia Preschool Initiative and the Virginia Preschool Initiative Expansion, and alternative education. We talked with her about “building strong children,” and what it takes to promote equity in a large school division.

Entering his fifth year as a teacher of record for Lucille Brown Middle School in Richmond Public SchoolsJosh Bearman does all that he can to make learning real for his students. Whether he is taking them down to the James River for what he describes as “good old fashioned, hands-on learning,” or bringing his banjo to class, he is committed to his craft. We talked with Josh about how we can be more equitable in public education, and a little bit about bluegrass music.

In his second year as Dean of the VCU School of EducationAndrew Daire is leading a school that seeks to encourage educational researchers to conduct their work with an eye on community impact and equip teachers for service in urban, high-poverty public school settings. We spoke with him about how teacher preparation programs are evolving and the future of community-engaged education research. 

As the Superintendent of Chesterfield County Public SchoolsJames Lane is responsible for overseeing the education of 60,000 students in 63 schools. We talked with him about the work that he does for students and educators in Chesterfield and how shifting policies have impacted those efforts.

As researchers in the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University and advocates for teachers in the metropolitan Richmond area, Kurt Stemhagen and Brionna Nomi remain focused on current issues in public education and their local implications. They also work with Richmond Teachers for Social Justice, a collection of local educators focused on issues of justice and equity in our public schools. We talked with them about their research and advocacy work and what they see as the future of public education.

As VCU School of Education students studying to become teachers in local public schools, this discussion with preservice teachers Tyler ArnoldJessica Shim, and Sarah Hunter covered what they thought about the current state of public education and the profession that they are about to enter. We discussed their reasons for wanting to become teachers, what impact they hope to make, and what they expect the role of a public school teacher to be in the future.

As the Director of the Center for Teacher Leadership (CTL) at VCUTerry Dozier focuses on providing high quality training to local educators to make them change agents in their schools. She also oversees the Richmond Teacher Residency (RTR) program within the CTL, which works to equip new teachers with the skills and experience they need to serve in high need, urban public school systems like Richmond Public Schools. We talked with her about the role of teachers in an evolving public education landscape.

As an associate professor of educational leadership in VCU School of EducationGenevieve Siegel-Hawley’s research focuses on the social and political contexts that lead to racial and socioeconomic stratification in public schools. We talked with her about how this stratification impacts students and what some solutions might be for ensuring a more equitable public education system.

This episode of abstract features a roundtable discussion with Amy Corning and Kate Daly from the MERC College Access Study, as well as Paula Robinson from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SHEV) and Bettsy Heggie from the Great Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP). We discussed the importance of higher education, the availability access providers in Region One of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and where the current areas of need are. The MERC study, commissioned by SCHEV, was made possible through funding by Virginia 529.

How can educators be culturally-responsive in their work with an increasingly diverse student body? This episode of Abstract featured a roundtable discussion with members of our Cultural Diversity Professional Development for Teachers study team: Laura Faulcon - Chesterfield County Public Schools, Jaime Stacy - Henrico County Public Schools, Travis Ridley - Colonial Heights Public Schools, Julie Gorlewski - VCU School of Education. The conversation focused on the importance of promoting culturally-responsive teaching, how professional development can help with that effort, and what directions this study may take. We had a great discussion about the opportunity that increasing diversity in our schools presents for educators.

We spoke with five awesome teachers who are conducting action research in their classrooms: Margaret Kielty - Richmond Public Schools, Marivic Mitchell – Henrico County Public Schools,  Liza Collins – Chesterfield County Public Schools , and Jenny Smith – Henrico County Public Schools. We discussed the purposes for conducting action research, who benefits from it, and how to do it. Listeners will learn what can happen when teachers become researchers.

This episode of Abstract features a re-broadcast of an event sponsored by the Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. The event focused on racial disproportionality in school discipline, with a specific focus on disrupting the school to prison pipeline. It featured educators, artists, and researchers from the Richmond community who came together to discuss this issue.

This episode of Abstract features a roundtable discussion with members of the Understanding Teacher Morale MERC study team: Autumn Nabors - Chesterfield County Schools, Deborah Gilfillan - Henrico County Public Schools, Rodney Robinson - Richmond Public Schools, and Tami Sober - Richmond Teacher Residency. We talked about national trends in teacher morale, contributing factors, and recommendations for making sure that teachers are treated as professionals. 

This episode features a roundtable discussion with members of the Achieving Racial Equity in Disciplinary Practices and Policies MERC study team: Adai Tefera - VCU School of Education, Rachel Levy - VCU School of Education, William Noel Sr. - VCU School of Education, and Evandra Catherine - VCU School of Education. We discussed key definitions, evidence of racial disproportionality in school discipline, themes in the research literature, next steps for this study, local and national implications, and new policy directions in the upcoming presidential administration.  


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