Journalism

I am a freelance writer and editor specializing in education writing. My work has most recently appeared in The Nation, The Christian Science Monitor, PBS Newshour Online, the Hechinger Report, Scholastic Administrator, Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Ed Magazine, Columbia University’s Dental Medicine and Teacher’s College’s TC Today. I have more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and writer with journalistic credits ranging from The New Yorker’s Goings on About Town section to stringing for U.S. News & World Report.

I began my career as a reporter in Anniston, Alabama and earned a master’s degree from Columbia School of Journalism before settling in New York City. Other places my byline has appeared include Family Fun, Family.Com, Working Woman, Women’s Wire, The New York Law Journal, The New York Times, Black Enterprise, Barnard Alumnae Magazine, Newsday and Smithsonian.

Below are some of my most recent pieces.

Columbia Dental Medicine: A Dental Student for Our Time: Holistic, Community-Minded, Diverse, Transformed

When Victor Lee was studying pharmacology as a pre-med student at Stony Brook University, he was sure of one thing in terms of a career goal. “It’s really funny because I actually did not want to be a dentist at all,” says the fourth-year student at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. “It . . . → Read More: Columbia Dental Medicine: A Dental Student for Our Time: Holistic, Community-Minded, Diverse, Transformed

CM: Stages

Commonwealth students tend to be a remarkably creative bunch–from studio to classroom, students are encouraged to make unexpected connections and then follow these new ideas. For many, that spirit continues after graduation, though rarely does it become the foundation of a career. Meet Kasi Lemmons ‘77, Jesse Peretz ‘86, Emily Botein ‘87, Hamish Linklater . . . → Read More: CM: Stages

The Nation: How Little is Too Little Money for Schools?

Kansas City, Kansas — In Rachael Mcilvaine’s eighth grade science class at West Middle School here, a chatty but focused group of three takes turns closing their eyes, dipping a plastic spoon into a foil roasting pan and fishing for M&Ms, trying to capture as much candy as they can. The idea is to . . . → Read More: The Nation: How Little is Too Little Money for Schools?

Scholastic Administrator: Turning Around Trauma

In her six years as the social worker at El Dorado Elementary in San Francisco, Jennifer Caldwell has witnessed significant change. “It’s a lot calmer,” she says. “The kids have strategies to manage and regulate their emotions. They’re better at talking it out and solving problems. The teachers have more tools to manage the . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Turning Around Trauma

Scholastic Administrator: Protecting Student Data

Distrust lingers over the safety of student data being parceled out by schools to Ed tech companies. But Clever.com may have the beginnings of an answer. The company provides a tightly secured software platform that serves as a control tower for districts to centrally manage data flow.

All 200 apps available on the system . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Protecting Student Data

TC Today: Early Risers

Galit Ben-Joseph discovered TC’s Master’s Program in Organizational Psychology as a fresh-faced college graduate, newly in charge of “very disgruntled 65-year-olds” in check processing in the basement of a Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn. “I couldn’t believe there was a place where I could learn to be a good manager,” she says. “People . . . → Read More: TC Today: Early Risers

Scholastic Administrator: Tortoise V. Hare

Soon after James Ponce became superintendent of McAllen Independent School District in Texas, in May 2009, he assembled a cadre of educators, students, parents, and businesspeople. “Do we have a 21st-century learning environment?” he asked them. “They responded by saying, for the most part, no,” he says. “I remember one teacher telling me, ‘The . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Tortoise V. Hare

CM: A Nose for the New (Profile of alum David Allen)

When David Allen ‘87 thinks of high school, he remembers an adventure.

“We had gone to see the Last Supper of Andrea Del Sarto,” he begins, recalling a visit to the outskirts of Florence during a school trip to Italy with art teacher Larry Geffin, ‘69. “After we saw it, we were a bit . . . → Read More: CM: A Nose for the New (Profile of alum David Allen)

Hechinger Report: Common Core’s Unintended Consequence?

Last year, Melody Arabo had the hardest year of her 13-year teaching career. The program she and her colleagues had been given to teach third-grade math at Keith Elementary just outside of Detroit was supposed to match the new Common Core standards students will be tested on this coming spring. But the workbooks still . . . → Read More: Hechinger Report: Common Core’s Unintended Consequence?

TC: Vanessa Siddle Walker gives Edmund Gordon lecture

Leaders of black schools in the segregation-era American South faced daunting odds. They operated in a system that, at best, deprived them of basic resources and, at worst, was set up to produce students conditioned to occupy a place at the bottom of society. Yet southern black schools prepared generations of students who would . . . → Read More: TC: Vanessa Siddle Walker gives Edmund Gordon lecture

TC: Elizabeth Green book chat

If a kid multiplies 49 by 5 and comes up with a wrong answer of 245, can you explain why?

Knowing the reason, which has to do with a common mistake in carrying numbers, may not be essential for doing math – but it is for teaching it, according to education journalist Elizabeth Green.

. . . → Read More: TC: Elizabeth Green book chat

TC: Kuo Ping Wen Symposium

A TC conference was devoted to Kuo Ping Wen, the first of a generation of brilliant TC doctoral students from China who remade their country’s education system.

A century ago, Kuo Ping Wen, a young man from Nanjing, in China’s Jiangsu Province, became his country’s first recipient of a Ph.D. from Teachers College. That . . . → Read More: TC: Kuo Ping Wen Symposium

TC Today: Early Risers

How does a Serbian immigrant trained in health and human rights education end up making award-winning feature films for YouTube? The answer is itself pure Hollywood, beginning in war-torn Serbia with a frightened 16-year-old’s revulsion at Serbian television propaganda and culminating back there 21 years later with his Los Angeles¬ based production company wrapping . . . → Read More: TC Today: Early Risers

Ed. Magazine: Six on Six

Australia: Michael Lynch (Part of a selection of profiles of far-flung alumni).

Australia native Michael Lynch, Ed.M.’83, has always been drawn to the religious life but says he chose to join the Salesians, a Catholic religious order, after graduating from college in 1964 because of the activities of its founder, a 19th-century Italian priest.

. . . → Read More: Ed. Magazine: Six on Six

Scholastic Administrator: Protecting Privacy

In the summer of 2013, gravity finally caught up with ed tech.

The reportedly $8 billion PreK through eighth-grade industry ran up against a substantial roadblock when parents became concerned that school officials in Colorado, Louisiana and New York had not adequately thought about the privacy implications of working with a company called inBloom.

. . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Protecting Privacy

Teachers College: Using a Federal Grant to Hook Kids on the Stem Subjects — and College

Chris Emdin uses hip-hop and rap to bring a sense of play to the teaching of physics, but his message to a room full of high school educators and their college partners in June was to approach their work with nothing less than a life-or-death sense urgency.

“If science and mathematics are the classes . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Using a Federal Grant to Hook Kids on the Stem Subjects — and College

Teachers College: A New Spin on English

It’s funny how Odysseus says things that don’t really happen. Should he man up and tell what really happens? No way, because he is the hero Odysseus…. I am a hero that never backs down from anything. Why tell the truth and get all my credentials washed away cause I wimped out one time? . . . → Read More: Teachers College: A New Spin on English

Scholastic Administrator: Credit Recovery

In the view of Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, in Washington, D.C., there’s something particularly American about recovering high school credit.

“This is a country of second chances, and there are all kinds of reasons why a person might have missed a credit the first time around,” says . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Credit Recovery

Scholastic Administrator: Magnifying Learning

When Ashley Sicard, 17, first saw the microscopes in Wheeling High School’s new laboratory–devices so powerful they are capable of measuring the distance between atoms–she was worried she might break them.

“I looked around at all the different high tech microscopes that we had and I was like, ‘Wow, these look like something I . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Magnifying Learning

Ed. Magazine: Dropping Out: Is Your First Grader at Risk?

In January 2013, Joshua Starr, Ed.M.’98, Ed.D.’01, the superintendent of Montgomery County [Md.] Public Schools, was walking through New York City’s Central Park when the idea hit him.

“I was actually walking with another Harvard grad, Brian Osborne, and I was talking about the Seven Keys,” he says, referring to an approach that the county is known . . . → Read More: Ed. Magazine: Dropping Out: Is Your First Grader at Risk?

CM: Anything But Moot (Profile of Nina Pillard)

Just a few blocks from the Supreme Court, in downtown Washington, D.C., on the first floor of the Georgetown University Law Center, there is a scaled-down version of the Court’s hearing room. It may not have the Spanish marble walls, but it does have a similar arrangement of white columns and crimson draperies behind . . . → Read More: CM: Anything But Moot (Profile of Nina Pillard)

Scholastic Administrator: Are Textbooks Relics of the Past?

At a Discovery Education leadership symposium recently, Todd Wirt, an assistant superintendent overseeing digital transition in Wake County, North Carolina, began a presentation on the subject with a slide that had a single word on it: WHY? Then Wirt drew a big X through the word and said, “If you want to talk about why, . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Are Textbooks Relics of the Past?

Teachers College: Class Will Meet Outside Today

Some years ago, Lalitha Vasudevan spent the summer knocking around West Philadelphia with a group of fifth-grade boys, ostensibly making a mock horror movie.

Vasudevan, who was working on her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, had initially planned to write something suitably academic about how her young colleagues saw themselves and how they . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Class Will Meet Outside Today

Scholastic Administrator: Is P-Tech the Future of High School?

For a school that opened its doors in September 2011 and is still years away from producing its first alumni, Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, as it’s known, has gotten plenty of attention—most notably, a mention in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in January. There’s good reason . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Is P-Tech the Future of High School?

Teachers College: Summer Principal’s Academy launches Southern Satellite

When Hurricane Katrina demolished Will Schneider’s home town of Chalmette, a suburb of New Orleans, it knocked Schneider’s budding acting career for a loop, as well. So Schneider decided to put his degree in biology to work while he waited for his star to rise. He signed on to teach Earth Science at his . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Summer Principal’s Academy launches Southern Satellite

Teachers College: A Community of Healing

Arriving in southern Uganda in 2002, Teachers College psychologist Lena Verdeli knew she had her work cut out for her. The country had endured a brutal civil war and was still in the midst of a devastating AIDS epidemic. Vast numbers of people in the northern regions were living in internally displaced persons camps. . . . → Read More: Teachers College: A Community of Healing

Scholastic Administrator: Rising Up

Two students Ron Walker encountered while working as a young teacher in Philadelphia led him to start the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color. The first, Wendell Holiday, told Walker proudly in his seventh-grade social studies class that he wanted to be president of the United States. A few weeks later, he was . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Rising Up

Scholastic Administrator: Opening Day

The first day of school is always memorable — any administrator, principal, or teacher will tell you that. But launching a new school, or implementing a different approach at an existing one, makes for a first day like no other. The excitement is heightened by fear of the unknown and the hope of blazing . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Opening Day

Scholastic Administrator: Paperless Dream

At the beginning of the school year, Matt Zoph, the principal of Grandview High School in southwestern Jefferson County, Missouri, issued one 500-page ream of paper to each of his teachers. As of March, according to Zoph, not one teacher had come back to ask for more.

That’s because the school has gone nearly . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Paperless Dream

Scholastic Administrator: The Evolution Of Textbooks

Soon after Apple executives finished announcing the debut of interactive textbooks for the iPad, and a free authoring app to create them, at a gathering at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in January, Basil Kolani took to his e-mail.

Kolani, director of information services and chair of the technology department at the . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: The Evolution Of Textbooks

Scholastic Administrator: Meet Your New PD Tool

Tiffany Della Vedova entered the social media universe gradually. She started with ASCD EDge, an online community of some 33,000 administrators and educators where she still regularly blogs. “I had been reading their publications and blog. And I thought, I’m going to join the conversation. I started blogging and reading other people’s blogs. I . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Meet Your New PD Tool

Teachers College: Forget About Turnaround Specialists, Can the Boss Learn?

WHEN WARNER BURKE TALKS TO GROUPS of executives and managers, he asks everyone in the room to write down what they think are the five most important characteristics of a highly successful leader. Then he bets his audience five dollars that no two lists will be the same and another five dollars that no . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Forget About Turnaround Specialists, Can the Boss Learn?

Teachers College: Fighting Stereotype Threat in the Workplace

FROM HER EARLIEST EXPERIENCE WITH diversity training, Loriann Roberson has been troubled by what she sees as a gulf between theory and practice. “It just drove me crazy how some of the diversity training didn’t apply any of the good practices identified by research,” says Roberson, Professor of Education in TC’s Department of Organization . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Fighting Stereotype Threat in the Workplace

Teachers College: The Eclectic Developmentalist

IN A RECENT ISSUE OF MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY MAGAZINE, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn was reported to be “giddy with excitement.”

The cause: She and her colleagues are using techniques from a new branch of molecular biology called social genomics to look at gene expression in some 3,000 pairs of samples from mothers and children in the . . . → Read More: Teachers College: The Eclectic Developmentalist

Teachers College: Analyzing the Webs We Weave

WHEN HIGH SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS want to get a feel for how many of their students might be at risk for dropping out, they may soon turn to Dynamic Network Theory, a new approach developed by Teachers College Associate Professor James Westaby.

Traditional network theory focuses on linkages among people. Dynamic Network Theory provides a . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Analyzing the Webs We Weave

Scholastic Administrator: Q&A with Morton Sherman

Morton Sherman has seen it all. He’s put in more than 25 years as an educator, with tenures as superintendent of the Tenafly Public Schools and the Cherry Hill Public Schools in New Jersey, and now, more than three years as superintendent of Virginia’s Alexandria City Public Schools. For Sherman, the key is . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Q&A with Morton Sherman

Scholastic Administrator: Q&A With Mark Mannella

This is an interview with Mark Mannella, CEO of KIPP Philadelphia Schools. It appeared in the Fall, 2011 issue of Scholastic Management.

Marc Mannella, CEO of KIPP Philadelphia Schools, says his experience definitely informs his management. As a former Teach for America middle school science teacher in the Baltimore public schools, Mannella remembers having . . . → Read More: Scholastic Administrator: Q&A With Mark Mannella

Teachers College: Zankel Fellowships

This is a story about the Arthur Zankel Urban Fellowship program at TC. It appeared in the Spring, 2011 issue of TC Today.

________________________________________________________________________

In his doctoral research at Teachers College, Jondou Chen is trying to tease out precisely how socioeconomic status affects academic achievement. Clearly wealthier kids do better than ones from low-income . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Zankel Fellowships

Teachers College: Jun Gao

This is a story about artist and TC doctoral student Jun Gao. It appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of TC Today.

__________________________________________________________________________________

When the artist Jun Gao decided to photograph Columbia University’s Low Plaza recently, he arrived before sunrise. By the time he had set up three homemade cameras—two for color, one for . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Jun Gao

Teachers College: Victor Lin

This is a story about jazz impresario, teacher extraordinaire and TC Doctoral student Victor Lin. It appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of TC Today.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Victor Lin has recorded, performed his own compositions and drawn high praise from the jazz supernova Kenny Barron. Yet his musicianship has been equally galvanized by his students . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Victor Lin

Teachers College: The XMA Program

This is a story about TC’s new Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership. It was written for the Teachers College Annual Report for 2010.

________________________________________________________________

When Warner Burke spoke to TC employees this past fall to help introduce a new performance evaluation system, he didn’t pull any punches.

“We have a lot of work . . . → Read More: Teachers College: The XMA Program

Teachers College: The Provost’s Investment Fund

This is a story about the provost’s investment fund. It appeared in TC Today’s Winter 2010 issue.

___________________________________

Three years ago, when Provost Tom James was dispersing grants to TC faculty members from a new fund designed to stimulate cross-disciplinary innovation, he gave $20,000 to create a faculty working group on Latino education. Cynics . . . → Read More: Teachers College: The Provost’s Investment Fund

Teachers College: Macy Gallery

This is an article about the college’s art gallery. It appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of TC Today.

______________________________

It has exhibited everything from works by Georgia O’Keeffe to the efforts of preschoolers. It has anchored an art education program that was first chaired by Arthur Wesley Dow and that numbers not only . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Macy Gallery

Teachers College: The Integrated Early Childhood Program

This is an article about TC’s Integrated Early Childhood Program. It appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of TC Today.

______________

Every day in the preschool room at TC’s Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, Michael and Timmy assemble a spaceship from wooden blocks, with higher seats for grownups and lower ones for children.

One . . . → Read More: Teachers College: The Integrated Early Childhood Program

Teachers College: The Hollingworth Science Camp

This is an article about Teachers College’s Hollingworth Summer Science Camp. It appeared in the Winter, 2010 issue of TC Today.

___________________

On July 26, to the relief and amazement of a group of seven-year-olds in the Hollingworth Science Camp at Teachers College, 13 chicks were born in a classroom on the fifth floor . . . → Read More: Teachers College: The Hollingworth Science Camp

Teachers College: The Elementary Inclusive Program

This is an article on one of the college’s most fundamental programs. It appeared in the Spring, 2010 issue of TC Today.

_______

In a bright morning in March, Colin Schumacher monitors Angelina Gonzalez’s fifth grade class at P.S. 179 in the South Bronx as it practices for an upcoming English Language Assessment test. . . . → Read More: Teachers College: The Elementary Inclusive Program

Teachers College: Good Neighbors Who Both Mend Fences

This article appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of TC Today.

As someone who has spent a good part of his career focusing on conflict resolution, Peter Coleman recognized familiar patterns in President Barack Obama’s first major speech before Congress.

“He was really trying to identify higher goals that we all share to mobilize . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Good Neighbors Who Both Mend Fences

Teachers College: Language as Ambassador

This article appeared in the  Spring 2009 issue of TC Today.

Even for New York City, the group of people lining up outside a first-floor Horace Mann classroom in January was unusually diverse. there was the wife of a Japanese public policy student, two au pairs, from Germany and Brazil; a young woman from . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Language as Ambassador

Teachers College: Outsourcing the District Office

This is an article about outsourcing school system management that was written for the 2009 Teachers College Annual Report. It includes discussion of the phenomenon in New York City, New Orleans and nationwide.

———

Sitting in his car on a busy New Orleans street corner one morning last year, Henry Levin counted no fewer . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Outsourcing the District Office

Teachers College: Funding for social programs based on results

This article was written for the Teachers College Annual Report for 2009. It is about how the Obama administration at the urging of experts including TC faculty, is moving towards funding organizations with proven track records on social programs such as the Nurse-Family Partnership.

Download a pdf of this story: TCAnnual09_Funding

——

Funding . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Funding for social programs based on results

Teachers College: Shaping The Future of Nursing

This was the cover story of the Fall 2008 issue of TC Today.

A lay observer at the 2008 Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE) summit might not have guessed he was watching the aftermath of the profession’s possible equivalent to the signing of the Magna Carta or the adoption of women’s suffrage. Nor . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Shaping The Future of Nursing

Teachers College: Team Pre-K

This article appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of TC Today.

Anna Johnson was a junior at Wesleyan University in Connecticut when she got interested in early childhood education — and, more specifically, how research in the field translates into policy.

The more she read about the subject, the more she encountered one name: . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Team Pre-K

Teachers College: Publishing Family Style

This article appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of TC Today.

Gary Howard had not planned on writing a book about helping white students become more knowledgeable about diversity. In facrt, the volume that has since become his calling card — We can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools — was . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Publishing Family Style

Teachers College: Library 2.0

This article appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of TC Today.

Last spring Teacher’s College’s academic programs related to health worked together to formulate a “health conceptual framework” — a document linking the programs’ collective missions. Their first step was to convene a meeting of key  faculty to develop a brief, coherent statement about . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Library 2.0

Teachers College: Building Oz in the Projects

This article appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of TC Today.

Ira Weston, Principal of Paul Robeson High School for Business and Technology on Albany Avenue in Brooklyn, sees his glass as half full. While “at risk” might be the term others would use to describe the 1,500 primarily African American students who attend . . . → Read More: Teachers College: Building Oz in the Projects

Greatest Hits (before 2000)

Here is a selection of particular favorite pieces written earlier in my freelancing career.

Smithsonian Essay on pick-up basketball: Hacker

Newsday Essay on a Filene’s Basement coming to Broadway: Filene’s

Family Fun Essay on Freelancing and Fathering: Man of the house

First of two years worth of pieces for the New Yorker’s Goings on About Town: Praying . . . → Read More: Greatest Hits (before 2000)