Mendenhall, Mary (mam2017)

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Mary Mendenhall
Associate Professor in International and Comparative Education
International & Transcultural Studies

276 GDodge

Educational Background

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Ohio University
Master of Arts, Higher Education Administration, New York University
Doctor of Education, International Educational Development, Teachers College, Columbia University

Scholarly Interests

International and comparative education; education in emergencies; forced displacement; humanitarian policy; humanitarian-development nexus; refugee education; teacher identity; teachers’ lived experiences; teacher education policies and practices among displaced populations; qualitative and participatory methodologies.

Selected Publications


Mendenhall, M. (Guest Editor). NORRAG, Special Issue No. 3, Data Collection and Evidence Building to Support Education in Emergencies, September 2018-May 2019.

Refereed Journal Articles (*denotes current and former students)

Mendenhall, M., Cha, J.,* Falk, D.*, Bergin, C.* & Bowden, L.* (2020). Teachers as agents of change: Positive discipline for inclusive classrooms in Kakuma Refugee Camp. International Journal of Inclusive Education, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2019.1707300.

Mendenhall, M. (2019). Teachers for Teachers: Advocating for stronger programs and policies for and with refugee teachers in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Studies in Social Justice, 12(2), 356-363.

Mendenhall, M., Skinner, M.*, Collas, S.*, & French, S.* (2019). Expanding teacher support through mobile mentoring in Kakuma Refugee Camp: Benefits and challenges. Current Issues in Comparative Education.

Mendenhall, M. & Bartlett, L. (May 2018). Academic and extracurricular support for refugee students in the US: Lessons learned. Theory into Practice, 57(2), 109-118.

Mendenhall, M., Bartlett, L., and Ghaffar-Kucher. (2016). “If you need help, they are always there for us”: Education for refugees in an international high school in NYC. Urban Review. doi 10.1007/s11256-016-0379-4

Bartlett, L., Mendenhall, M. and Ghaffar-Kucher, A. (In press). Culture in Acculturation: Refugee Youth’s Schooling Experiences in New York Schools. International Journal of Intercultural Relations (Special Issue: Cultural and Academic Adjustment of Refugee Youth in Educational Settings). 

Mendenhall, M., Dryden-Peterson, S., Bartlett, L. Ndirangu, C., Imonje, R. Gakunga, D., Gichuhi, L., Nyagah, G., Okoth, U., and Tangelder, M. (2015). Quality Education for Refugees in Kenya: Pedagogy in Urban Nairobi and Kakuma Refugee Camp Settings. Journal on Education in Emergencies 1(1), pp. 92-130.

Mendenhall, M. (2014). Education sustainability in the relief-development transition: Challenges for international organizations working in countries affected by conflict. International Journal of Educational Development, 35, 67-77.

Mendenhall, M. and Anderson, A. (Summer 2013). Strengthening national and regional capacity for Education in Emergencies in East Africa: Lessons learned and future directions for an NGO-University partnership. Harvard International Review.

Anderson, A. and Mendenhall, M. (2006).  Inter-agency network for education in emergencies, Forced Migration Review Supplement (Education and Conflict: Research Policy and Practice).

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters

Mendenhall, M. and Tangelder, M. (2017). Faculty development for Education in Emergencies: A University-NGO partnership in Kenya. In C. Smith & K. Hudson (Eds.), Faculty development in developing and fragile contexts: Theory and practice for improving the quality of teaching in higher education (41-63). New York: Routledge.

Mendenhall, M. and Chopra, N. (2016). Educating for Peace in Kenya: Comparing National and Local Initiatives. In M. Bajaj & M. Hantzopoulos (Eds.), International Perspectives on Peace Education, Bloomsbury Publishers.

Mendenhall, M. (2010). The relief-development transition: Sustaining the educational support provided by international organizations in post-conflict settings.  F. Vavrus and L. Bartlett (Eds.). Critical Approaches to Comparative Education: Vertical Case Studies from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Palgrave Publishers: UK. 

Published Reports

Falk, D.*, Shephard, D.*, & Mendenhall, M. (2019). Teacher well-being amidst displacement and fragility in Uganda and South Sudan (case study). Teachers in Crisis Contexts: Promising Practices in Teacher Management, Professional Development, and Well-being. Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies.

Mendenhall, M, Gomez, S. & Varni, E.* (2018). Teaching amidst conflict and displacement: Persistent challenges and promising practices for refugee, IDP and national teachers (background paper). Global Education Report: Migration, Education and Displacement. Paris: UNESCO.

Mendenhall, M. (2017). Creating Safer and Better Quality Learning Environments through Teacher Well-Being in Crisis Contexts: Emerging Findings from Teachers for Teachers in Kakuma Refugee Camp (Case Study). Published as part of INEE Roundtable for Psychosocial Support and Social Emotional Learning, Florence, Italy.

Mendenhall, M. (2017). Strengthening teacher professional development: Local and global communities of practice in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya (case study). Promising Practices in Refugee Education. London, UK: Save the Children, UNHCR, Pearson.

Mendenhall, M., Russell, S.G., and Buckner, E. (2017). Urban Refugee Education: Strengthening Policies and Practices for Access, Quality and Inclusion. [Policy Report]. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Mendenhall, M., Russell, S.G., and Buckner, E. (2017). Urban Refugee Education: Guidelines and Practical Strategies for Strengthening Support to Improve Educational Quality for All. [Programmatic Guidance Report]. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Mendenhall, M., Russell, S.G., and Buckner, E. (2017). Urban Refugee Education: Priorities for Policies and Programs. [Advocacy Brief]. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Online Publications

Mendenhall, M. (March 2020). “We cannot talk about quality education for refugees anymore without talking about the vital role of teachers.” (interview conducted by Education International)

Mendenhall, M. (2019). Navigating the humanitarian-development nexus in forced displacement contexts (Think Piece available in English, French, and Portuguese; audio PowerPoint presentation in English). UNICEF Think Piece Series: Education in Emergencies. UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, Nairobi.

Mendenhall, M. & Pacifico, A.* (2019). Data Collection and Evidence Building to Support Education in Emergencies. NORRAG Blog.

Mendenhall, M., Russell, S.G., & Buckner, E. (2018). The right to education for urban refugees and the national security conundrum: A closer look at the Kenyan context. NORRAG Special Issue: The Right to Education Movements and Policies, 01.

  • Reprinted in French in NORRAG Jornée thématique Education et migration.

Mendenhall, M., Collas, S.*, & Falk, D.* (2017). Educating the future amidst displacement: refugee teachers in Kakuma Refugee Camp [Photo Essay]. Reconsidering Development, 5(1).

Mendenhall, M. (2017, 9 August). Teachers in crisis contexts working group: Strengthening teacher professional development through collaboration. Promising Practices in Refugee Education.

Mendenhall, M. (2016, December 6). Promising Practices for Strengthening Teacher Professional Development in Crisis Contexts [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Mendenhall, M. and Tangelder. M. (2013). Springboard into a Career: Experiences Establishing Practical Work Opportunities for Education in Emergencies Graduate Students at the University of Nairobi. INEE Blog,  “Teaching Education in Emergencies: Good Practice and Challenges. Retrieved from

E-Learning Course Contributions

Mendenhall, M. (2019). Massive Open Online Course: Protecting Children in Humanitarian Settings.  Contributed reflections from research in Kakuma refugee camp on Schools, Communities, and Child Protection in Practice as part of Enabling Communities as Protective Environments lesson.

Mendenhall, M. (2018). UNICEF Education in Emergencies E-learning Course. Contributed presentation on the role of teachers as part of the Teaching and Learning lesson.


Mendenhall, M. (2019, June 13). Building Evidence on Education in Emergencies [Audio podcast].

Mendenhall, M., Russell, S.G., & Buckner, E. (2016, September 1). Urban refugees and education [Audio podcast].

Mendenhall, M., Ndirangu, C. & Gakunga, D. (2016). Quality education for refugees in Kenya: Pedagogy in urban Nairobi and Kakuma Refugee Camp Settings [Video podcast].

2016-17: IDEO Amplify Challenge Award Winner, plus additional in-kind design support from IDEO

Teachers for Teachers Project Director & Principal Investigator

  • The Teachers for Teachers project entails the development and implementation of a new professional development initiative that combines teacher training, peer coaching and mobile mentoring for refugee teachers working in Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya) in an effort to provide continuous and quality support in refugee education contexts.

2015-16: U.S. State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration research award

Project Director and Co-Principal Investigator (with Susan Garnett Russell), Global, National and Local Intersections: Educational Policies and Schooling Practices for Urban Refugees

  • This study examined existing policies and practices in urban refugee education to identify gaps, opportunities, and promising practices to better meet the distinct needs of urban refugees. The study produced a policy report, a programmatic guidance report, an advocacy report, an infographic, a video and Twitter messages about the state of urban refugee education around the world. The team is currently working on the scholarly publications for this study.

2015: IDEO Amplify Challenge Finalist Prototyping Grant

Project Lead, Continuous Quality Professional Development, Support and Mentoring for Refugee Teachers

  • Proposal was selected from 299 submissions for the OpenIDEO Amplify Challenge on refugee education as one of the five finalists to receive funding. This initial prototyping grant allowed us to test our mobile mentoring idea for supporting refugee teachers in Kakuma before taking it to scale. 

2014-15: Office of International Affairs Global Investment Fund, Teachers College

Project Lead and Primary Investigator, Supporting & Researching Teacher Professional Development in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

  • Seed funding provided the foundation for developing a new teacher training curriculum for refugee teachers while simultaneously conducting a study on the unique experiences of refugee teachers and their self-perceptions of teacher identity.

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Comparative and International Education Society (CIES)

Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

External funding

Mendenhall, M. & Chopra, V. (2020). Teacher Professional Development for Playful Learning in Crisis Settings. LEGO Foundation.

Mendenhall, M. (2018). Resilient students, teachers, and education systems in Uganda and South Sudan, four-year research study in partnership with Oxfam. European Union.

Mendenhall, M. (2017). Teachers for Teachers: Strengthening teacher professional development for refugee and local teachers. UNICEF/European Union.

Mendenhall, M. (2017). Promising Practices in Refugee Education. Save the Children, UNHCR, Pearson.

Mendenhall, M. (2016). Teachers for Teachers Web Platform (, currently being revised). Comparative and International Education Society Knowledge Mobilization Grant.

Mendenhall, M. (2016). Teachers for Teachers.

Mendenhall, M. (2015). Continuous Quality Professional Development, Support and Mentoring for Refugee Teachers.

Mendenhall, M., Russell, S., & Buckner, E. (2015). Global, National and Local Intersections: Educational Policies and Schooling Practices for Urban Refugees. U.S. State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Internal funding

Mendenhall, M. (2020). Establishing Fellowship Program for Emerging Displaced Scholars. Columbia University Global Centers.

Mendenhall, M. (2019). Educators in Emergencies: Providing More and Better Support to Teachers Working in Crisis, Conflict, and Fragility. Vice President’s Diversity and Community Initiatives Grant Fund.

Boothby, N. & Mendenhall, M. (2018). Urban displacement alliance and community resilience initiative in Amman, Jordan. Columbia University President’s Global Innovation Fund (with matching grant provided by Teachers College).

Mendenhall, M. (2017). Communities of Practice: Teachers in Conflict and Displacement Workshop. Vice President’s Diversity and Community Initiatives Grant Fund.

Mendenhall, M., Verdeli, H., Russell, S., & Simmons, J. ($8000). Supporting & Researching Teacher Professional Development in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Office of International Affairs.


Related Articles

Despite Inclusive Policies, Refugee Children Face Major Obstacles to Education

The barriers refugee children face overseas create even more problems if they are eventually resettled in the United States. 

UNHCR Left Behind: Refugee Education in Crisis Report

Inclusion of the Teachers for Teachers project that my students and I developed in Kakuma refugee camp (see pages 38-29)

UNESCO A Lifeline to Learning: Leveraging Technology to Support Education for Refugees

The Teachers for Teachers project that my students and I developed in Kakuma refugee camp is referenced in this report (see p. 39).

10 Experts to Watch on Refugee Education

With 50 percent of refugee children unable to attend school, we look at some of the leading thinkers on refugee education in the third installment of our “Experts to Watch” series.

Helping teachers to help refugees

Fifty million displaced children worldwide! This was the alarming figure released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2018. Faced with the trauma and interrupted education of these children who are victims, teachers find themselves ill-equipped to deal with these challenges – especially since many of them have little or no qualifications themselves. Now, several institutions in different countries are stepping up with initiatives to help teachers give their best. 

How teachers use mobile phones as education tools in refugee camps

The Teachers for Teachers project that my students and I developed in Kakuma refugee camp is cited in this article.