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AACTE Member Leaders Discuss the Importance of Collaborating During COVID

Kimberly White-Smith, Stephanie Knight, John Blackwell

AACTE Board members Kimberly White-Smith, Stephanie Knight, and John Blackwell met with me to discuss the importance of collaboration during times of crises. In the videos, White-Smith, Knight, and Blackwell shared the following:

“Academic justice is of critical importance right now. And that is our contribution to the change that is happening. As educators, we have the ability to work with our communities to provide education to our in-service and pre-service teachers so they come out of this experience better prepared,” said Kimberly White-Smith, dean of the University of La Verne’s LaFetra College of Education. “We know that many of our families are experiencing trauma right now due to illness with COVID or have experienced other sort of trauma as a result of anti-blackness, or racist ideologies or policies in our community. We can better support our communities, our students, and develop educators who can address those concerns head-on.” White-Smith is the intellectual force behind a number of scholarly endeavors that foster academic justice for traditionally underserved students through enhanced educational environments, policies, and teaching strategies.

She has authored articles and book chapters on diversity, inclusivity, and leadership, such as, “The Struggle for Identity in a Teacher Community,” in Etta R. Hollins’ latest book, Learning to Teach in Urban Schools and “That’s why I say stay in school”: Black Mothers’ Parental Involvement, Cultural Wealth and Exclusion in their Sons Schooling and “Just as bad as prisons”: The challenge of dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline through teacher and community education, co-authored with Quaylan Allen in Urban Education and Equity and Excellence in Education. She also serves on the board of directors for the California Council on Teacher Education and has served as the program chair of Division K for Teaching and Teacher Education, and chair of the AACTE Committee on Meetings and Professional Development. She earned a B.A in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, a M.A. in curriculum and teaching from Teachers College at Columbia University and an Ed.D. in learning and instruction from University of Southern California.

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“Create a ‘we’re all in this together’ approach and involve others in the decision making. Let them know you’ve got this, but only with the involvement of them in the process [because] we need each other,” said Stephanie Knight, dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University. “Let faculty staff and students know you know and appreciate what they’re going through. We’re not only going to survive, we’re going to thrive because we’re going to get through this together and be a more cohesive efficient unit.” Knight is a nationally recognized education leader, researcher, and professor. Her scholarly interests demonstrate a dedication to bringing the results of evidence-based research to the K-12 classroom. Her research into relationships between instructional strategies, classroom processes, learning environments and student outcomes; teacher professional development, and the use of observational techniques to study classroom processes has been published in hundreds of professional journal articles, book chapters and books and presented at numerous professional conferences.

Knight began her education career as a classroom teacher of Spanish and French in Texas, Saudi Arabia, and Pennsylvania. She was the associate dean for the college of education at Pennsylvania State University and has directed university and national research centers. She served as associate director of research into practice for the National Science Foundation Information Technology in Science Center for Teaching and Learning and director of evaluation and assessment for the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement in Washington, DC. She was also a co-editor of the Journal of Teacher Education and co-editor of the Teaching, Learning and Human Development section of the American Educational Research Journal. She currently serves as associate editor of the Review of Educational Research. Knight received an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction at the University of Houston.

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“During the course of the years, our university has had good relationships with our school partners, and we have been able to place our students and …work with them to make sure our students have quality experiences in the schools,” said John Blackwell, coordinator of assessment at Virginia State University. “Our state superintendent…sent a letter to all the school divisions strongly encouraging them to make sure they work with their university partners to make sure we are included in their plan, and that they accept our student teachers and our field experience candidates, where they’re able to, to give them that experience of being able to teach in this environment.” Blackwell is passionate about producing the highest quality teachers for Virginia and the nation. He specializes in instructional technology integration to include assessment of student learning outcomes mapped to program learning outcomes. He served as president of the Virginia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (VACTE) and as the Southern Region Representative for AACTE. He received a B.S. in business administration from James Madison University, a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction, and Ed.D. in administration and supervision from Virginia State University.

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