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 Asia Jefferson (RPS), Lauren Grob (Henrico), Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney,
Alexis Goode (VSU, RPS), and Trace Broyles (CCPS) at the 14th Annual MERC Conference

What is the Crossroads in Education series?

Launched in the summer of 2017 in connection with the , the Abstract: Crossroads in Education series shares the diverse perspectives of people contributing to public education in the metropolitan Richmond area. Recent debates about how to best serve our PK12 students have raised a number of questions about where we are and where we are going. Amid discussions of school vouchers, charter schools and public-private partnerships, what does it really means for a school to be public? And, given the quickly changing political and social dynamics within our country and around the world, how do public schools respond? Answering these questions requires engaging the voices of a wide range of stakeholders. Everyone is affected in some way by the decisions we make about how we educate our students.  We want to know what they think about the purpose of our public schools, what is working well, and how the future of public education might look. There is a lot we can learn from each other if we are willing to listen.


As a junior at Monacan High School in Chesterfield County Public Schools, Trace 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.


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 in the Specialty Center for Education and Human Development at Glen Allen High School in Henrico County Public Schools, Lauren 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.


As a senior at Armstrong High School in Richmond Public Schools, Asia 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 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 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 Schools, Cynthia (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 Jones, Swansboro, 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 Schools, Tameshia 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 Schools, Josh 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 Education, Andrew 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 Schools, James 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 Jessica Shim, Sarah Hunter, and Tyler Arnold 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 VCU, Terry 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 Education, Genevieve 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.