Meet Some of Our Alumni

Jonathan Dant
Principal, Success Academy Charter Schools
Sociology and Education Program with an Education Policy concentration
Teachers College, Columbia University, MA 2013
Success Academy Charter Schools
I had been looking at TC’s Sociology and Education program from the first few weeks of when I began teaching after undergrad. I joined Teach For America after college and began teaching in Newark, NJ. As a sociology major in undergrad with a minor in Political Science, I knew that one day I wanted to attend a graduate program that continued my development in sociology and policy with a focus on education. Through my years of teaching, I would follow some of the work and articles that came out of the department at TC, which further piqued my interest in the program for when I was ready to start my graduate education.
When I finished teaching and was ready to start grad school, I came back to TC as a first choice because I was interested in learning more about school choice policies and diversity in curriculum. I knew that both Professor Pallas and Professor Wells were producing a lot of research on the subject with which I wanted to be involved.
After starting the program, I was immersed in both the policy side of education including school choice as well as researching how we can create truly authentic curriculum that reflects our diversity in this country. I was very grateful to take a series of courses that focused on race and culture in education with Professor Wells that broadened my understanding of the deep-rooted and pervasive issues that affect education throughout the country.
When I completed my coursework, I joined Success Academy Charter Schools because their mission aligned with what I was most interested in during my time in the Sociology and Education program: they strive to provide a world-class education to all students regardless of race or background; and as an organization, they are committed to changing policy for all of the children in New York even if they do not attend our schools. 
I now run the most diverse of our schools with families from six-continents, a myriad of cultures, and a wide-range of incomes. I continually reflect upon everything that I learned in the program and use all of the books and readings that I have to help navigate the waters of school diversity and create an incredible community dedicated to bringing a joyful and rigorous education to each of my students.
Rene Morgan
Operations Associate of the Charter Network Accelerator, Achievement First
Sociology and Education Program 
Teachers College, Columbia University, MA 2014
Operations Associate of the Charter Network Accelerator
Achievement First

Daughter of a founding board member and former teacher of one of the first charter schools opened in the Bay Area, California, a career in education seemingly was inevitable. My deep interest in the intersection of factors that tend to the needs of the whole child stemmed from my adolescent experiences involved in a myriad of enrichment programs via school and the community where I resided. Having recently graduated from Howard University, where I served as the National Director of Jewels Inc., a mentoring program, interned as the Program Manager at Dreams for Kids, and coordinated the STEM summer camp at Girls Inc., Washington DC., I firmly believe that youth require academic, social, and emotional support via school and enrichment programs to be college and career ready.

I enrolled in the Sociology and Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University with a desire to expand my knowledge on the social and political factors that affect education policy as it relates to comprehensive education. The esteemed faculty in the department of Education Policy and Social Analysis offered courses such as the Federal Policy Institute and School Law Institute. These institutes immersed me in the world of education policy both in Washington, DC and New York and connected me with influential leaders in research, government, and academia.

My career and research interests include comprehensive education, organizational culture, and urban education.

Currently, I serve as Operations Associate of the Charter Network Accelerator at Achievement First. The Charter Network Accelerator is an 18-month national leadership development program for CEOs and Instructional Leaders of charter management organizations. My range of responsibilities include project management, operations, team systems and data, and knowledge management.

Previously, I was an administrator at the Harlem Children’s Zone. As Dean of School Culture, I managed a team of change agents committed to the non-instructional needs of the scholars and school. I directly managed school data and systems, family engagement, discipline and attendance. I, also, worked closely with the school deans, school counselor, and social worker to ensure scholars were receiving the necessary support to be successful.

I am grateful for the opportunity to attend and graduate from TC. I often cross paths with TC alumni and am constantly reminded of the lasting impact the program has had on our career trajectories and the commitment we have to the work of preparing young minds and hearts for the bright futures ahead of them.

David Johns
Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

Sociology and Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University, MA 2006

Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
U.S. Department of Education

I entered the Sociology and Education program at Teachers College while teaching on 110th Street and Broadway, walking distance from the school.  Having recently graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University, I was frustrated with how few students from underrepresented communities have access to high quality education and workforce development programs and support services and was looking for programs, policies and practices to improve things—to increase access and improve quality.  The Sociology and Education Program provided me with a framework for understanding how social policy is developed and codified, a valuable framework that has buttressed my work in Washington, DC both on Capitol Hill and in the Administration.

I am currently the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Initiative). President Obama established the Initiative, by Executive Order, to “help to restore the United States to its role as the global leader in education; strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages; and help ensure that African Americans receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college, a satisfying career, and productive citizenship.” The Initiative has been tasked with delivering high-impact, evidentiary based solutions to meet the challenges African American students, schools and communities striving for educational excellence, from cradle to career.

Through my work I maintain active relationships with researchers informing relevant policy and practice—including both teacher/mentors Aaron Pallas and Amy Stuart Wells. I strive to remain an active member of the Teachers College Alumni Community. This past fall I had the pleasure of speaking during the admitted students’ weekend and annually look forward to engaging with Professor Sharon Lynn Kagan and the Teachers College Federal Policy Institute. The annual alumni panel provides me with an opportunity to reconnect with fellow Teachers College Alumni MaryEllen McGuire and Phillip Herr.

Dana Leon-Guerrero
Accreditation Associate, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Sociology and Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University, MA 2010

Accreditation Associate
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, Washington, DC

Every day, I use the knowledge and skills I gained in the Sociology and Education program.  During my 2.5 years with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, I have navigated between higher education, P-12, research, and policy settings in an effort to improve the preparation of educators.  It is at the cross-sections of these settings that I see our greatest hope for improving the teacher workforce.

In many ways, my work in designing standards and program evaluation is an extension of the research I began at Teacher’s College.  I have always been interested in how and what we teach teachers, and the study of social forces and their impact on education provided me with a new lens for exploring the topic.

Looking forward, I expect to develop resources for new and current educators by entering more entrepreneurial and technological spaces.

Though I have left the classroom, the perspective I gained as a teacher will never be lost. I am extremely thankful and encouraged by the fact that all the TC students, alumni, and faculty I have interacted with have a deep respect for teachers and the profession.

Donique Reid
Policy and Research Associate, Alliance for Excellent Education
Sociology and Education Program 
Teachers College, Columbia University, MA 2014
Policy and Research Associate
Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington, DC
I began my journey in education as a volunteer for the Kid2College program in the Southwest region of the District of Columbia. One thing that became clear to me during this experience was that my students did not seem to have the same rigor of instruction that I enjoyed as a child. I remember engaging in a conversation around postsecondary opportunities as one student confidently shouted, “Harvard! There is no way we will ever go there.” Motivation to succeed is an important factor in education, but that day they seemed to think that there were limits to their success. A reoccurring theme that has driven my passion is the need to help students not only believe that they can achieve higher standards, but also to ensure that policies, curricula, and educators provide students with the resources and support to do so. 
I later received my professional teaching certificate and transitioned into the classroom teaching Spanish in Prince George’s County, Maryland. During that time, I continued to witness the challenges my middle and high school students faced and how those challenges impacted their ability to succeed. I saw the variation in teacher quality and, just as important, the differences in level of expectations they had for their students. These experiences lead me to pursue the Sociology and Education program at Teachers College.
Throughout my program, I developed a deeper understanding of the contextual factors shaping students’ educational experiences, particularly low-income students and students of color. I engaged in countless conversations around the inequities found in federal, state, and local systems of education and ineffective social policies. I left with a profound clarity about both the theoretical and policy considerations that are needed to ensure equitable access to high-quality educational experiences for students across the country. 
I am currently a policy and research associate at the Alliance for Excellent Education in D.C. and a fellow in the national Education Policy Fellowship Program. At the Alliance, I consistently have the opportunity to conduct quantitative and qualitative analyses to help shape federal policy decisions like the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I also play an integral role in shaping the strategic direction of policy activities within our standards, assessments and deeper learning portfolio. Prior to joining the Alliance, I served as a program evaluator for the National Urban League and a program coordinator for the Children’s Aid Society in New York City. During that time I gained experience designing and implementing research evaluations and piloted a middle school to high school transition program called Stepping Up. In the summer of 2013, I participated in the Education Pioneers fellowship where I focused on effective teacher recruitment investment strategies with Teach for America. 
Carlon Myrick
Director of School Support, The Achievement Network

Sociology and Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University, MA 2013

Director of School Support
The Achievement Network

I came to TC’s Sociology and Education program after teaching four years at a public charter school in Brooklyn, NY. Around this time, I was sensing how complex and multifaceted educational inequity really was, and was specifically becoming attuned to challenges, from outside the school, that influence a child’s education. Each day, as I contrasted the need to understand the outside factors that shape current urban education with the “no excuses” mantra that permeated our school from the inside, my curiosity became insatiable. I knew it was time to delve more deeply into this curiosity and go to graduate school. Teachers College’s Sociology and Education program was a perfect match.

While I expected to broaden my knowledge base about the societal problems that manifest in urban education, I left with something even more valuable: multiple frameworks for understanding how society’s institutions may produce equity (or inequity) as a consequence of design. I came to understand that educational inequity is a small part of this larger story. And this perspective has been an invaluable part of my personal and professional growth.

In essence, my TC experience helped redefine what I identify as the root cause in educational inequity. Understanding the scope of the problem has helped me see that the landscape of social reform is not really a “landscape” fit for any broad brushed answers. Rather, it is more like a mosaic of many small solutions, to which I am even more deeply impassioned to commit in every way I can. Currently, I work as a Director of School Support with the Achievement Network. The Achievement Network (ANet) is a nonprofit that helps schools strengthen their practice around using standards and data to accelerate student learning in underserved communities. I specifically provide tailored coaching to over a dozen New Jersey school leaders, building their capacity to systematically apply and scale effective practice. Finally, I manage the strategic planning and delivery of network Learning and Professional Development for all 59 schools in our New Jersey Network. Outside of my professional responsibilities, I enjoy volunteering time and perspective to empower our sector’s professionals. Most recently, I have had the privilege to speak on career panel sessions for Education Pioneers and KIPP, contribute pieces to Teach For America’s “Pass the Chalk” blog, and to lead professional development training for the Urban Teaching Corps.

Jennell McHugh
Researcher, The American Institutes for Research

Sociology and Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University, M.A. 2011

The American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC

Supporting students in the communities of North Philadelphia as a McNair fellow was my introduction to educating. I believed in this meaningful model of tutelage and mentorship, to which I was in many ways both benefactor and beneficiary. After moving back to New York, I became involved with The Princeton Review and segued this into a temporary teaching position at a public high school. All of these experiences led me to pursue my Master of Arts in the Sociology and Education program in the department of Education Policy and Social Analysis at Columbia University’s Teachers College.  Sociology was the lens through which I best began to understand the successes, limitations and failures of educational policies and practices. After experiencing Professor Kagan's Federal Policy Institute, I was convinced to move to Washington, DC and be part of the influential education research community. This unique and highly coveted course offered by Teachers College gave me a brutish yet motivational insider's perspective of our nation's political labyrinth.

Currently, I am part of a robust albeit small team at The American Institutes for Research, supporting the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) program, contracted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We are currently working on the ECLS-K:2011 survey, intended to provide researchers and policymakers with meaningful national data on children's early school experiences, development and characteristics. In addition to strengthening my quantitative and analytic skills, my TC coursework in evaluation methods, cognitive interviewing and ethnography prepared me for many of the quality assurance activities I perform.

My interests and contributions to other areas of education research include urban university-community partnerships; monitoring competency-based education reform; policy solutions addressing learning loss; and a trend analysis of the roles of high school counselors.

I am appreciative of the relationships cultivated at TC, and am empowered by our network united by the mission to progress quality and equity in education for the purpose of improving and enlightening individuals and society.

Our graduates have held the following positions:

Doctoral Alumni:

  • Assistant Professor of Education, Johns Hopkins University
  • Assistant Professor of Education, Molloy College
  • Assistant Professor of Education Foundations, Policy and Practice, University of Colorado-Boulder
  • Assistant Professor of Education Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Assistant Vice-President, Strategy for Workforce Enablement Services, MetLife Global Technology and Operations
  • Associate Director of Education and Employment Research Center and Assistant Research Professor, Rutgers University
  • Associate Professor, Department of Latin American and Latinx Studies, John Jay College
  • Chief Executive Officer, Parchment
  • Consultant, Kisco Foundation
  • Director of Enrichment Services, Hollingworth Center, Teachers College
  • Director of Research Strategy and Policy, Center for Public Research and Leadership, Columbia University
  • Education Researcher, SRI International
  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer, National Summer Learning Association
  • Post Doctoral Research Associate, Research Alliance for New York City Schools, New York University
  • Principal, Mildred Osborne Charter School, New Orleans, LA
  • Professor, Temple University
  • Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Research Project Manager, Policy Evaluation and Research Center, ETS
  • Senior Advisor, Council of Independent Colleges
  • Senior Director of Policy, Public School Forum of North Carolina
  • Senior Research Associate, NCREST
  • Senior Researcher, SRI Education

Master’s Alumni: 

  • Academic Manager, Teach for Pakistan
  • Accreditation Consultant, National Council on the Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • Admissions Coordinator, Calhoun School
  • Analyst, Office of Student Enrollment, NYC Department of Education
  • Area Coordinator for Living and Learning Communities, Oberlin College
  • Assessor/Research Assistant, Chilean Ministry of Education
  • Assistant Dean of Admissions/Coordinator of Diversity Outreach, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
  • Assistant to the Director of Pre-College Programs, Barnard College
  • Associate Director, Data Management, Uncommon Schools, Inc.
  • Associate Director of College Guidance, Gill St. Bernard’s School, NJ
  • Bronx Borough Outreach Manager, NYC Department of Education
  • College Advisor, Harlem Children’s Zone
  • Content Specialist, Professional Development, Summit Public Schools Charter Network
  • CSTEP Academic Advisor, City College of New York
  • Data and Assessment Manager, Public Preparatory Network
  • Dean of School Culture, Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Academy
  • Deputy Director of Continuing Education and Special Programs, Hunter College, CUNY
  • Director, Evaluation and Policy, NYC Department of Education
  • Director, New Partnerships, The Achievement Network
  • Director of Civic Engagement and Social Justice, Eugene Lang College, The New School University
  • Director of Evaluations, Studies & Social Development, Estudios y consultorias Focus, Chile
  • Director of the High School Program, Summer on the Hill
  • Diversity Research Specialist, Kent State University 
  • Education Coder, Analytica, Inc.
  • Education Manager, Success Academy Harlem West
  • Education Pioneers Fellow, Achievement First
  • Educational Coordinator, The Renaissance University for Community Education at Harlem Children’s Zone
  • ELA Content and Assessment Specialist, NYC Department of Education
  • Evaluation and Assessment Manager, Harlem RBI
  • Federal Statistics Project Researcher, American Institutes for Research
  • Knowledge Sharing Product Development Manager, New York City Department of Education
  • Learning Specialist, Research Foundation, CUNY
  • Lecturer, Qatar University, College of Education
  • Literacy Consultant, LitLife, Inc.
  • Manager of Business Operations and Partnerships, “I Have a Dream” Foundation
  • Manager of the Young Men’s Program, South Asian Youth Action, Queens, NY
  • NYS Governor’s Executive Chamber, Empire State Fellow
  • Operations Coordinator, Brooklyn Prospect Charter School
  • D. Student, Education Leadership, University of Arizona
  • D. Student, Education Policy Studies, University of Maryland
  • D. Student, Educational Theory and Policy program, Penn State University
  • D  Student, Higher Education & Organizational Change, UCLA
  • D. Student, Human Development, CUNY
  • D. Student, International Comparative Education, Stanford University
  • D. Student, San Diego State/Claremont Joint Ph.D. in Education
  • D. Student, Sociology & Education, Teachers College
  • Policy and Research Associate, Alliance for Excellent Education
  • Principal, PS 306, the Academy for Discovery, Queens, NY
  • Principal, Success Academy Charter Schools
  • Program Associate, Achieve
  • Program Coordinator, Children’s Aid Society
  • Program Director, Education Pioneers
  • Program Director, Justice Scholars
  • Program Director, Phipps Community Development Corporation, Bronx, NY
  • Program Evaluator, Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation
  • Program Officer, U.S. Department of Education
  • Research Analyst, Berkeley Policy Associates
  • Research Analyst, NYU Office of Institutional Research
  • Research Assistant, Boston College
  • Research Assistant, Education Development Center
  • Research Assistant, TC/NCREST
  • Research Associate, Harder + Company Community Research
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences and Humanities, Independent University, Bangladesh
  • Senior Research Assistant, Community College Research Center at Teachers College
  • Senior Research Associate, Michael Cohen Group, LLC
  • School Adjustment Counselor, Springfield, MA schools
  • Sociology Instructor/Activities Center Associate, Choate Rosemary Hall
  • Strategic Partnerships Coordinator, NYC Department of Youth & Community Development
  • Student, Boston College Law School
  • Student, George Washington University Law School
  • Student, University of California-Berkeley Law School
  • Student, Ph.D. program in Child and Family Leadership, University of Denver
  • Student, Ph.D. program in Economics and Education, Teachers College
  • Student, Ph.D. program in Sociology, UC-Irvine
  • Student Activities Manager, CUNY Law School
  • Teacher, Bronx Charter School for Children
  • Teacher, Del Valle, TX Independent School District
  • Teacher, Harlem Village Academies
  • Teacher, Jumoke Academy Charter School in Hartford, CT
  • Teacher, KIPP Believe College Prep School, New Orleans, LA
  • Teacher, Leman Manhattan Preparatory School
  • Teacher, PS 234, New York City
  • Teacher, Uncommon Schools, Newark, NJ
  • White House Intern, Office of the Vice President
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