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Programs in International and Comparative Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University
ICE Alumni Profiles > Maria Hantzopolous

Maria Hantzopolous

TC Degree & Year of Graduation: EdD, 2008

Current position: Assistant Professor, Vassar College

Before TC: Before going to Teachers College, Maria worked with New York City youth in a variety of capacities. At Aspira, an NYC-based non-profit, Maria coordinated the youth leadership development program for high school students across the five boroughs. She then transitioned to being a full-time high school social studies teacher at Humanities Prep, which she saw as “part of a wave of small public schools that were opening up that were doing things a bit differently.” The school was democratically run and based on consensus decision-making. As a social studies teacher, she coordinated international trips for students to Cuba and France. During this time, she also worked with Seeds of Peace and their peace-building dialogue programs.

While at TC: Maria “stumbled upon” the department of International and Transcultural Studies in 2002 and was immediately attracted to the International Educational Development program and its concentration in Peace Education. The doctoral program in IED provided Maria with a “broader, more global perspective in [her] training.” She speaks highly of the theoretical knowledge she gained, which allowed her to make meaningful connections between the local and the global. According to Maria, one of the best aspects of her TC experience was the people she met.

After TC: After receiving her Doctorate in Education, Maria obtained a position as Assistant Professor in the Education Department at Vassar College. Working at a small liberal arts college is “the best of many worlds” as Maria is able to coordinate the secondary education program in addition to teaching across the college in multidisciplinary departments such as urban studies, international studies, and women’s studies. She also has the opportunity to focus her research and teaching efforts in both domestic and international education issues. Maria’s research to date has focused on the small school movement in New York City. Just recently, she co-edited a book on “critical small schools” which presents empirical case studies of some of the original schools that aimed to “create socially just spaces for NYC youth.” However, Maria is also working on starting a project that examines immigration and education in Greece, from where members of her own family immigrated a generation ago. She envisions this project as part of a broader shift in her research agenda on global patterns of migration and schooling and the privatization of education.

Words of Advice: Maria encourages current and incoming IED/CIE students to “be open to changing your trajectory a little bit—through learning from other people and cultivating a good network of friends and colleagues.” She also recommends that students maintain their relationships with faculty, students, and the program after graduating. Maria has stayed connected through many events, class visits, and publication collaborations with faculty such as Lesley Bartlett and Monisha Bajaj. Most recently, she won a grant from the British Council and the Social Science Research Council to collaborate with fellow TC alumni and faculty on conducting a textbook analysis of the depiction of the Middle East in US World History textbooks.