Elementary School Math Coach, Waltham, MA
Thesis Title: Only the "Most Motivated" Need Apply? Comparing the Involvement and School Interaction Practices of Charter-Seeking and Non-Charter-Seeking Parents
When I started college, I had an idealist's perspective and a lot of big questions about justice, equity, and social impact. Social Studies allowed me to explore these ideas in a supportive, engaging setting, surrounded by students who shared my passions and teachers who were outstandingly generous in their personal attention and mentorship. I loved that all my core Social Studies classes were small seminars, where our discussions helped me better understand the works of classic social theorists and contemporary economists alike. I especially enjoyed my junior seminars; one was focused on social mobility and the other on the economics of education. However, probably the greatest highlight of concentrating in Social Studies was conducting my thesis research. The process took me to many neighborhoods of a large city to interview parents about their hopes for their children's education.
After college, I became a teacher in the city where I did my thesis research. I often thought about the conversations I had with my interviewees as I met new groups of parents eager to talk about their children’s academic and social development and their dreams for their children’s futures. I also often referred back to material from my Social Studies classes; I maintained a “Social Studies bookshelf” in my apartment featuring some of the most important authors I read at Harvard (Annette Lareau, Jacob Hacker) and after (Michelle Alexander, Claude Steele). I eventually came back to Harvard to get a M.Ed. in school leadership. Currently, I am working as an instructional coach at a public elementary school.
As I think back to the way that Social Studies impacted my experiences as an undergrad and after, I feel fortunate to have entered the education field with the historical and sociological perspective I gained through my Social Studies coursework. I am especially grateful for the continued mentorship of many of my Social Studies professors, who have kept in touch and have always been willing to offer advice, perspective, and a listening ear.