Meet TC's Changemakers

As the first and largest graduate school of education in the country, TC’s commitment to an expansive, innovative view of learning is exemplified through the lives of its dynamic faculty, students, and alumni. Get to know them here!


Lalitha Vasudevan​

Lalitha Vasudevan​ started school at 2.5 years old in Calcutta, India. It was a fact of which her parents were very proud. As a curious child who was always asking questions, she excelled. At 4, the family immigrated to the United States. She excelled there, too. School was a place where she felt free to have aspirations, chase success and develop confidence.

In college, she had what she calls a “renaissance” semester, when she took a sociology class, a linguistics class, an urban education class and a psychology class. She became fascinated by communication: its processes, nuances, and the freedom it allows us to move through the world in the way we wish.

When she began working with young people whose experiences in school were not empowering or affirming, she became curious about their stories. Her passions for inquiry, language and story coalesced into an academic career that developed at Teachers College. Today she is a faculty member and program coordinator of the
C​ommunication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design Program​ in the department of M​ath, Science and Technology.​

Her focus shifted from traditional critical research on what wasn’t working for these young people, to cultural production projects that honor multiple literacies and help them tell their stories. At TC she co­leads the C​enter for Multiple Languages and Literacies (CMLL), ​the C​ivic Participation Project (CPP) ​and the M​edia and Social Change Lab (MASCLab). ​Just as she uses technology and dialogue to bring these stories out in multihued ways, Professor Vasudevan challenges her own students, ­­future teachers, and researchers­­ to collaborate, keep listening, and keep inquiry open.


Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz

Growing up in the South Bronx in the 1980’s, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz learned that diligently pursuing education was the way to gain access to the resources and experiences her parents couldn’t afford to provide for her.

While she excelled academically competing against students from a similar background to hers throughout high school, succeeding in the university and in postgraduate studies was a profound challenge. It was Professor Sealey-­Ruiz’s passion for learning and love for writing that helped her overcome those difficulties and process her experiences. Today, as Assistant Professor of English Education at Teachers College, she has made the educational autobiography a centerpiece of her teaching philosophy

and is known for taking authentic and compassionate interest in the lives of her students.

She is also deeply engaged in the Teachers College community, running programs such as the Racial Literacy Roundtable, and encourages her students to harness their unique life experiences to grow into thoughtful, reflective teachers and mentors to the young people in their lives.


Chris Emdin

When Christopher Emdin was a high school student in Flatbush, Brooklyn, he hated science class. While he was perpetually curious about scientific concepts in nature and technology, he felt stifled by the lack of interactivity in the science classroom and like many students, kept his curiosity outside of school... along with his love of rap and hip­-hop culture.

Years later, as an educator and researcher, Professor Emdin found a way to bridge the gap between these passions and has developed a unique hip­-hop pedagogy for urban science education, which he’s brought to public schools throughout New York City, and to Teachers College as an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology.

At its core, his philosophy brings the expressive, creative, community-­oriented sensibilities of hip­-hop into the classroom, where he strives to make students—particularly students of color who have

historically been excluded from academic success in the sciences—feel comfortable, engaged, inspired and aware that their personal passions can actually fuel their education.

At TC, he teaches future science educators about the value and scope of hip-hop culture as a tool for connecting with students, providing them with frameworks to develop curricula based on culturally relevant pedagogy in the 21st century. 


Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz

is an Assistant Professor of English Education in the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College Columbia University. In courses such as The Teaching of Writing, Writing Non-Fiction, and Teaching English in Diverse Social/Cultural Contexts, Dr. Sealey-Ruiz, who started her career as a high school English teacher, seeks to “guide teachers in creating learning activities, responsive curriculum, and appropriate assessments which hold their students to high academic standards while reflecting their interests and life experiences.”  She has worked outside the classroom as well to help shape broader initiatives that have involved students and fellow faculty members from different areas of the College.

Learn more about The Department of Arts and Humanities

Learn more about English Education

What is Vialogues?

Vialogues is an award winning discussion platform built by EdLab, a design, development, and discovery unit at Teachers College. Vialogues promotes videos as powerful teaching resources, and provides a space for users around the world to hold meaningful and dynamic time stamped discussions about video content.

Leveraging group interaction around the viewing experience, Vialogues supports the use of videos for learning. Teachers use it to scaffold video content, perform formative assessment of student understanding, and engage in asynchronous conversation with students. TC community members and friends use it to collaborate and share thoughts on video content. Make a free account and share your thoughts and questions with the featured professors in the Changemakers video series.

Dr. Christopher Emdin

is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University; where he also serves as Director of Science Education at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education. He is currently a Caperton Fellow and Hip-Hop Archive Fellow at the WEB DuBois Institute at Harvard University.

Visit Dr. Emdin’s website and blog at

Learn more about the Department of Math Science and Technology

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