Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies 2016-17 Cohort
LDUS has helped me grow in ways I never imagined. I came to this program straight from undergrad because I did not yet feel ready to take on my own classroom. I came in thinking I would learn how tackle difficult conversations in my classroom in regards to the social sphere, which I did. However, I am also leaving feeling inspired and feeling called to fight for social justice in education. The various interests and passions of my cohort always leave me wanting to learn more about topics I never even considered. I CANNOT wait to see what everyone will accomplish because they are all capable of amazing and wonderful futures.
Plans for Future: Moving back to Boston to teach High School Social Studies
I have loved my time in the LDUS program. The classes I was able to take and the people I learned from made the (very quick) year a transformative and power-full experience. I learned to face my own biases and prejudices head on, consider previously unexplored perspectives, and to become a better listener. The flexibility of the course selection and strength of Dr. da Silva's encouragement enabled me to cultivate my passion for Restorative Justice as an alternative to (end) mass incarceration through classes I've taken through the Divinity School at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison. My understanding of myself, of others, and of teaching has become more textured and has helped me better value the intrinsic worth and complexity of each human being and of the interconnectedness of people and of ideas. I am thrilled to continue applying what I've learned in LDUS in my teaching practice and in the rest of my life.
Based on the learning and experiences of LDUS, I will continue teaching at Glencliff High School as a full-time Restorative Practices Coordinator and teacher of the Peace Team, a group of sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are co-designing and facilitating Restorative Practices at GHS. I am hopeful that our journey at GHS will provide a helpful model to other schools in MNPS and beyond. Eventually, I would love to pursue my Ph.D and teach at a college level, while maintaining my learning in the classroom.
Laura pictured in center
Myron A. Lewis III
I want to thank Vanderbilt University and the LDUS program for the great opportunity it has given me. LDUS is a program that left me with priceless memories and I was able to gain an educational insight on Urban Studies. I was able to expand my mind on difficult topics regarding race, racism, intersectionality amongst diverse groups and cultures. My role as a student of LDUS has given me a chance to make a difference in lives of our youth and understand that their voice matters. I am proud that I was able to contribute to discussions and difficult conversation centering Urban Studies and multiculturalism in today's society.
My future plans after graduating, I plan on working with high risk students. I want to be able to create an opportunity for kids in regards to their future and life decisions. Working with high risk students will help me challenge these students to step outside their boundaries and let them see the world beyond the box they are constraint too. Their voice matters and I want to be a positive influence to help their growth and development.
Mary Catherine Lockman
Before LDUS, I taught third grade for three years. While my time in the classroom taught me many things about academic instruction and differentiating for academic needs, LDUS taught me how to consider the whole child and teach with each individuals' unique backgrounds and experiences in mind. In contemplating next steps, I am looking to continue on the path that LDUS has started me on, a path of advocacy and social justice. LDUS gave me a new view of the world and encouraged me to use that new lens to create change.
Javon A. Marshall
"The LDUS program can be summed up in two word, “Life Changing.” I came into the program with a limited view on how people of all different nationalities, ethnicities, races, and genders experience different oppressions in society. These oppressions effect how our society learns, functions as humans, and build cognitive frameworks for ourselves. LDUS has provided me with the enlightenment needed in these areas and the tools needed to coordinate with all humans, not matter the societal titles and stereotypes are placed upon them. Whether in the classroom or in the community, the knowledge attained in the LDUS program can be used in any atmosphere as moving forward I will take what I learned in an athletic arena coaching collegiate sports."
Kiara D. Smith
Thoughts on LDUS: LDUS has opened up my mind to the vast role education plays in life in and outside of a formal classroom setting. The program has pushed me to think critically about problems and strive for solutions for things I would have never considered before. These classes and the community of people that have formed my support system whilst in this program, have changed my life, the way that I think, and how I feel I must navigate through society. I am forever grateful for my time here.
Future plans: Next year I will be attending Mills College in Oakland, CA to get my teaching licensure in the event the I chose to teach in a formal classroom, but LDUS has opened my eyes to so many different potential opportunities that I know my future options are vast.
Before going back for my master’s, I taught for four years as a junior high math teacher, focusing primarily on remedial courses. I quickly realized that my preparation to teach math as a neutral, non-political subject left me doing a disservice to my students and myself. Over the last year, LDUS coursework has exposed me to ideologies and research that have helped me rethink my role as an educator and have given me the confidence to push back on some of the inequitable archetypes of math education. It is now more important than ever that teachers are able to help students navigate and facilitate dialogue about the world they see outside of school, and LDUS has prepared me to do just that.
Ariel D. Smith
There's no way to encapsulate everything LDUS means to me, but transformative might be best word to use. I was a business management major in undergrad, but realized through a few service learning opportunities that corporate America just wasn't for me. I was always passionate about education, poverty and race, but never really considered and education degree until I stumbled across LDUS. What drew me to the program was that it covered topics that bleed into the classroom- from gentrification, race, LGBTQ+, ability, and immigration to tracking systems, discipline, school pushout and so much more. I came in as a person knowing little about pedagogy, and now I feel like I've learned a lot and have the capacity to learn much more.
In LDUS I found my research interest in the null curriculum (information excluded from curricula) as it pertains to Black students, racial identity development and racism in the age of Black Lives Matter. LDUS gave me foundation to explore and create my own concentration and I have been able to take it to a PhD program immediately following my time at Vandy. I've now focused my topic to examine how the null curriculum of Black entrepreneurs, leaders/rulers and business owners affects Black identity development and resistance in the United States. Without LDUS and amazing faculty like our advisor Chris, this would not have been possible.