Spring 2019 Profiles in Diversity Honorees

Two members of the ECU College of Education faculty, Dr. Mikkaka Overstreet and Dr. Christina M. Tschida were named the Spring 2019

COE Spring 2019 Profiles in Diversity Honorees: Dr. Mikkaka Overstreet and Dr. Christina Tschida.

honorees for the Profiles in Diversity award at the college’s faculty and staff meeting on Friday, January 25.

Started in 2015, the Profiles in Diversity award recognizes faculty or staff from across the ECU College of Education for their commitment to issues of diversity, equity, and social justice in their life and work. Special attention is given to faculty and staff whose identities and work may have been historically marginalized in society and mainstream educational research and practice.

Mikkaka Overstreet is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education at East Carolina University. Her research focuses on exploring intersections of literacy, identity, and learning, as well as preservice and in-service teacher learning, particularly as related to culturally responsive pedagogical practices.

Christina M. Tschida is an Associate Professor in Elementary Social Studies and is a part of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education. She designs her courses to challenge students to identify the dominant narratives that are taught in today’s schools and then dig deeper to uncover the revised narratives – those often marginalized and sometimes invisible and inaudible stories – that must be voiced and included in our teaching if we are to create a more just and equitable world.

The full profiles of Drs. Overstreet and Tschida are below:

 Profiles in Diversity Honoree: Mikkaka Overstreet, Ph.D.

Mikkaka Overstreet, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, & History Education; Reading Education

Bio and Background

Mikkaka Overstreet is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education at East Carolina University. Her research focuses on exploring intersections of literacy, identity, and learning, as well as preservice and in-service teacher learning, particularly as related to culturally responsive pedagogical practices. Recent publications include The Journal of Language & Literacy Education, NASPA Journal About Women and Gender in Higher Education, Reading Psychology, and the Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research.

Dr. Overstreet obtained a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction, M.Ed. in Literacy, and B.S. in Early Elementary Education from the University of Louisville.

Getting to Know Our Honoree

I have lived in…

Saginaw, Michigan; Killeen, Texas; Louisville, KY and now Greenville

My favorite teacher is…

 My 6th Grade English Teacher, Ms. Cissell (Now a principal!)

 My favorite place to eat or favorite food to eat / prepare is…

I can’t say no to a French fry

What are some cultural experiences that make you who you are?

There are so many! I think about my experiences as a Black child from a poor family but seen as “academically gifted” and the spaces that put me in—often as one of the only people of color. I also remember being shaped by summers spent in Michigan with my grandparents, who’d brought some of their country ways with them from Memphis and Mississippi. One of those grandparents was (and is still) the most devout Christian I know, so it was she who provided my introduction to the Black church.

 Professional Work

 How do your beliefs about diversity, social justice, and equity manifest themselves in your research, teaching, advocacy and/or service?

My teaching, research, and service are all driven by my commitment to promoting equity, social justice, and agentive engagement in the field of education. As a teacher, I approach my work from a sociocultural paradigm—engaging my students in frequent discussions and hands-on problem solving tasks that require them to converse with peers, challenge each other, push one another forward, and stretch their own thinking. I facilitate both group and individual reflection frequently, challenging students to think about their own and others’ practice, their beliefs, their strengths, and their areas for growth. This closely aligns with my research agenda, which focuses on preservice and in-service teacher learning and change, particularly as related to enacting culturally responsive pedagogical practices. My current research centers on integrating culturally responsive practices as content in literacy methods courses in order to prioritize and centralize this work in teacher education. Additionally, I am collaborating on research projects focused on recruitment and retention of teachers of color at various stages in the educational pipeline, on the integration of arts and literacy in schools serving diverse populations, on engaging preservice teachers with culturally responsive pedagogy, and on identity work in adult education.

Share with us an example of that kind of work that you are proud of or committed to.

I am proud of much of my work, but I have a special place in my heart for an article in press entitled My First Year in Academia or The Mythical Black Female Superhero Takes on the Ivory Tower. As a Black, Queer woman in academia, I have made sense of my experiences through an autoethnographic piece detailing my first year in academia and the many challenges of the experience. What I enjoy most about this piece, however, is that I was able to embrace my personal nerdiness as I used DC Comics’ first Black female superhero, Vixen, as a rhetorical device. Drawing on previous theoretical constructions such as the Strong Black Woman schema (SBW), this research highlights systemic disparities in the treatment of female faculty of color and offers suggestions for navigating these challenges.

How do you hope your field and society might change as a result of your work and that of others doing similar work around this issue?

I often consider my impact now as a means of assuaging my nostalgia for my days of classroom teaching. I have to remind myself that where I used to have an impact on 25 kids a year, I now help to improve the lives of hundreds of kids each year by contributing to the education of their teachers. By simultaneously advocating for students, families, and teachers it is my goal to disrupt deficit narratives and help create a world where the funds of knowledge carried by all three groups are valued. In this new world teachers will be dedicated to lifelong learning and will be respected as professionals, families will be empowered as partners in their children’s education, and students will reap the benefits of socially just educational experiences.

 

Profiles in Diversity Honoree: Christina M. Tschida, Ph.D.

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My hope is that my work in teacher education challenges my students to examine their own beliefs, learn to identify injustice in their world, and work to incorporate equity and social justice into their classrooms.”

Christina M. Tschida, PhD Associate Professor Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education; Elementary Social Studies

 Bio and Background

Christina M. Tschida is an Associate Professor in Elementary Social Studies and is a part of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education.

Dr. Tschida obtained a Ph.D and Masters in School Administration and Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and a B.A. in Elementary Education and English from St. Catherine University.

Getting to Know Our Honoree

I have lived in…

Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Carolina

My favorite teacher is…

Dr. Jewell Cooper, a teacher who greatly impacted my thinking and teaching. I met Dr. Cooper at UNCG during my Masters in School Administration program. She was instrumental in my decision to pursue a PhD and focus on equity and social justice. She was always encouraging and supportive but, she also never held back critical feedback and always tells me when my privilege is showing. I greatly appreciate her teaching and mentorship over the years.

My favorite place to eat or favorite food to eat / prepare is…

I love to “spirit cook” (no set recipe, add a little of this, a pinch of that, and see where the cooking takes you) at home more than going out. My current favorite dish is grilled chicken & veggie kebobs with a sriracha sauce.

What are some cultural experiences that make you who you are?

Growing up in a very small, rural town in northern Wisconsin was fairly isolating and kept me from experiencing much diversity until I went away for college. I was lucky to travel to Germany and Austria a few times during my childhood to visit my father’s family. I think some of the biggest cultural experiences that shape me, my thinking, and my teaching are relationships with colleagues, students, and mentors who have different lived experiences than my own and are generous enough to share their lives, experiences, culture, and wisdom with me.

 Professional Work

 How do your beliefs about diversity, social justice, and equity manifest themselves in your research, teaching, advocacy and/or service?

My own experiences with marginalization and especially seeing the experiences my sons face because they have two moms fuels the passion with which I do this work. I always design my courses to challenge my students to identify the dominant narratives that are taught in today’s schools and then dig deeper to uncover the revised narratives – those often marginalized and sometimes invisible and inaudible stories – that must be voiced and included in our teaching if we are to create a more just and equitable world. My research often comes out of the work I do in the classroom with my students and aims to reach a broader audience, especially practicing teachers.

Share with us an example of that kind of work that you are proud of or committed to.

Two things I’m particularly proud of are:

  1. I collaborated with colleagues to edit a collection of work highlighting what elementary social studies education could and should look like. It pushes the boundaries of how the field talks about elementary social studies and unpacks specific controversial issues, looking at how to address them in an elementary classroom. The book helps readers gain critical content knowledge, teaching tips, lesson ideas, and resources.
  2. The same colleagues are working together to start an elementary focused social studies summit that will center controversial issues, social justice, and equity education. The inaugural summit will occur this coming June and bring together scholars from across the country.

 

From grad school – Paulo Freire, bell hooks, Geneva Gay, Gloria Ladson-Billings,  I greatly appreciate the collaboration, support, and encouragement from colleagues here at ECU such as Caitlin Ryan, Anne Ticknor, Jenni Gallagher, and Mikkaka Overstreet. I am also privileged to work with my co-editors and elementary social studies colleagues Sarah Shear, Lisa Buchanan, Elizabeth Bellows, and Elizabeth Saylor.

Who are your collaborators in this work? Who – in the field, at ECU, and/or in the College of Education – also does diversity and equity work that you respect?

A couple current folks who I’m learning from – Wayne Au, Kevin Kumashiro, Bettina Love

How do you hope your field and society might change as a result of your work and that of others doing similar work around this issue?

 My hope is that my work in teacher education challenges my students to examine their own beliefs, learn to identify injustice in their world, and work to incorporate equity and social justice into their classrooms. By doing this, my hope is to not only impact my students, but to impact the lives of their future students as well.

Selected Publications

Shear, S.B. Tschida, C.M., Bellows, E., Buchanan, L.B., & Saylor, E.E. (Eds.). (2018). (Re)imagining Elementary Social Studies: A Controversial Issues Reader. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Tschida, C.M. & Buchanan, L.B. (2018). Unpacking the Paradox: Preservice Teachers’ Affirming Beliefs about LGBTQ Families and the Persistent Avoidance of LGBTQ Topics in Elementary Schools. In S.B. Shear, C.M. Tschida, E. Bellows, L.B. Buchanan, & E.E. Saylor (Eds.), Reimagining Elementary Social Studies: A Controversial Issues Reader. (111-128). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Ticknor, A. S., Tschida, C. M., & Ryan, C. L. (2017). Reimagining Pedagogy in Online Teacher Education: (Re)shaping Participation in Literacy and Social Studies Methods Courses. Journal of Teacher Education & Practice 34(4), 565-580.

Tschida, C.M. & Buchanan, L.B. (2017). What Makes a Family? Sharing Multiple Perspectives through an Inclusive Text Set. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 30(2), 3-7.

Tschida, C. M. & Buchanan, L. B. (2015). Tackling Controversial Topics: Developing Thematic Text Sets for Elementary Social Studies. Social Studies Research and Practice, 10(3), 40-56.

Tschida, C.M., Ryan, C.L., & Ticknor, A.S. (2014). Building on windows and mirrors: Encouraging the disruption of “single stories” through children’s literature. Journal of Children’s Literature, 40(1), 28-39.

 

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