by Claire Miller
Alyssa Hadley Dunn decided she wanted to be a third grade teacher when she was in the third grade, following a class project on national parks. As a young child, her favorite childhood game was “playing school” with her brother.
In fourth grade, she changed her mind and wanted to become a fourth grade teacher. This continued in each grade until high school, when she decided to attend Boston College to earn her bachelor’s degree in secondary English education.
And it was in the Boston College’s urban immersion program, which placed student teachers in Boston Public schools, that her focus shifted to urban education and social justice – issues that she’s been passionate about ever since.
“I realized that students in urban schools need and deserve the best prepared, culturally responsive teachers who are conscious of their transformative role and power,” said Dunn, who has been appointed a clinical assistant professor of urban teacher education in the College of Education’s Department of Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology.
She went on to receive her master’s and Ph.D. from Emory University. Her research focuses on urban education and policy, multicultural education, international teachers and teacher preparation. Her current projects include writing a book on international teachers who are recruited to teach in urban schools and studying the influence of teacher educators’ race on how their students perceive the importance and authenticity of multicultural education.
In the COE, Dunn supervises teacher residents working in metro-Atlanta schools as part of the college’s Network for Enhancing Teacher Quality (NET-Q) project, a $13.5 million grant project that prepares teachers for the demands of teaching high-need subjects in high-need schools. She also coordinates professional development workshops for residents and their mentors. This semester, she is teaching an undergraduate course on field-based research in urban education, in addition to her work with the NET-Q project. She will also be serving on the Dean’s faculty advisory committee to write the COE’s new strategic plan and traveling to France to plan a new study abroad program on language, religion and cultural diversity in France and the U.S. Dunn was recently awarded the EU-US Atlantis Faculty Mobility Grant for travel to Sweden, where she will be giving a series of seminars and workshops on multiculturalism in a global perspective.
Dunn said she’s enjoyed working with the NET-Q residents and international students, both of which are experiences that will lend themselves well to a book she’s writing on international teachers who are recruited to teach in urban schools.
“I love working with my students because they’re excited about teaching and how they can have an impact in urban schools,” she said. “It’s great working at a university and especially in a department that has a focus on social justice.”
This story is one in a series designed to highlight the College of Education’s newest faculty members and their contributions to the field of education.