Laura Handler, current Ph.D. student
1) How did the program prepare you to work towards future goals?
This program has equipped me with a strong foundation of knowledge and relevant research in the field of urban education to act and advise in ways that I hope strengthens our schools and communities--that need has never been more urgent. Having read, discussed, analyzed, and debated all angles of the most pressing issues, I feel prepared to advance the profession by working with current and future teachers, as well as improve educational experiences for all by addressing challenges with comprehensive solutions. I have had numerous opportunities to develop research practices, engage with scholars across the country, and shape local educational initiatives--all experiences that will make a difference in my next position, whatever that may be.
2) How did the program build off your knowledge and skills as a classroom teacher?
Having a strand-specific focus (for me, elementary education) has greatly helped me apply my prior knowledge and experiences from the classroom setting to formulate a broader perspective on the big challenges confronting our education system today. Small class sizes dedicated to the contexts with which I am most familiar have allowed me to share my own valuable insights as well as gain those from colleagues. Professors design courses to allow for personalization so that my learning and research can build off of my own strengths, passions, and experiences.
3) To what extent and how did faculty support you during your time in the program?
The most meaningful factor of my experience in this program has been the support I've received every step of the way. Papers with countless detailed comments to challenge my thinking and improve my writing. Conversations after class hours, on the weekends, on vacations, on the drive to pick up kids, across countless time zones. Endless opportunities to research, write, and present. Invitations to observe and collaborate when interests align. Impromptu hallway conversations that ultimately steer my next paper, project, or proposal. Multiple mentors to advise on every facet of my professional career and personal life. The genuine concern, personalized attention, and continual support that every professor has offered over the past three years have been instrumental in pursuing this degree and my own personal ambitions.