Features and Profiles

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.

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: 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

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?

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: 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

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?

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

CM: Four Commonwealth Alumnae Take on the Tech World

One thing is clear: David Lorsch ‘88, vice president of strategy and business development at Strava, Inc., a social media platform for athletes, did not earn his sports credentials at Commonwealth. He does, though, trace his approach to his work back to high school: “There’s an analytical way of thinking and breaking down . . . → Read More: CM: Four Commonwealth Alumnae Take on the Tech World

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)

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

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: 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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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: 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.

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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

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

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: 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

Profile of NAACP Legal Defense Fund Director Counsel, Elaine Jones

When Elaine Jones took over as director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in January of 1993, she said she didn’t intend to follow in the footsteps of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the organization’s founder. “Those footsteps are too big!” she said. “I have to make my own.”

And . . . → Read More: Profile of NAACP Legal Defense Fund Director Counsel, Elaine Jones

New Yorker: Goings on About Town

In the early nineties, I wrote regularly for the New Yorker’s Goings on About Town section, doing short pieces about unusual outdoor sculpture that appeared around the city. Here is the first of those, about a four thousand pound praying mantis in Riverside Park, the work of sculptor Robert Ressler. Please see Whittler.