Associate Director & Manager of Programs Update, March 2023

Dear IRT Community,

As IRT enters the Spring season, we are continuing to advise scholars as they manage their graduate school acceptances and financial packages. We are encouraging them to savor the joy and acknowledge their efforts in this milestone. We are so very proud of them. As we well know, keeping up with coursework, working multiple jobs, participating in campus activities and applying to graduate schools is a fine balancing act. 

We are also in the midst of reviewing applications for our next IRT scholar cohort who will begin their programming year with a 4 week virtual Summer Institute beginning in late June. By remaining virtual, all accepted scholars will have access to IRT faculty, College and University Consortium partners and all programming content. As with other organizations and institutions in service of diversifying the teaching profession, pivoting to increase opportunity and center equity remains the core of IRT’s work. 

The IRT Exploration Process to determine the best future forward continues. By uplifting the voices of our stakeholders in this process, we are able to address our equity challenges and receive feedback on redesign approaches. This community based collaborative approach is what helps to define who IRT is, what it stands for and who it stands with. 

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of outreaching to and co-presenting with several IRT alums. Their work is varied, cutting edge and moves the needle. One such example is LaShawnda and I were invited by Melissa Oliver, IRT ’02 , Director, Teacher Development Hub, NYC Department of Education | Office of New Teacher Induction and Support to present at the NYC Coalition for Teacher Preparation Annual Conference. This year’s conference theme was ‘Storying the Data’ and the title of our presentation was ‘Epistemologies or Apologies; An analysis of the gaps of ways of knowing,’ Our interactive panel featured IRT alums and focused on epistemology, data analysis, and its limitations. The IRT alums were; Endia Hayes, IRT ’16 doctoral candidate at Rutgers University, Marcus Penny, IRT ’11, Science Instructional Coach, Boston Public Schools Building Excellent Educators of Science (B.E.E.S.) Initiative,  Renée Wilmot, IRT ‘ 12, ’17, doctoral candidate at Michigan State University and Steven Zrike, Ph.D., IRT ’01, Superintendent, Salem Public Schools, MA . These  IRT Scholars shared their experiences in academia and education, along with their research which troubles traditional ways of knowing. Our goal was for attendees to recognize alternative perspectives in knowledge curation and to interrogate systems of data analysis and its reliance. We had a great turn out, a lively discussion and a welcomed opportunity for IRT alums to be in community with each other as they shared their work with a broader audience. 

As I close, I want to leave you with a few of the questions that LaShawnda and I posed during our workshop for your own reflection. How do we know what we know? Who creates the narratives we believe hold true in education? What are we able to challenge and interrogate? 

Thank you for your continued support of IRT.  I look forward to our ongoing work together!

Catherine Wong
IRT Associate Director & Manager of Programs

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