Rebekah is a Senior Program Director at Deans for Impact. She leads systems-level initiatives to improve teacher preparation. Prior to joining Deans for Impact she taught elementary mathematics in Memphis, Tennessee and worked as a research assistant and teacher educator at the University of Virginia. She received her BA from the University of Virginia, her M.Ed from Christian Brothers University, and her Ph.D. in teaching quality and teacher education from the University of Virginia.

Why did you start working in education?

I began working in education because I believe that, as part of a broader equity movement, our education system holds enormous potential to end historic opportunity gaps. I also believe the the education system in the United States will continue to perpetuate the systematic oppression of minoritized students unless we actively work to transform it.

Why were you excited to join Deans for Impact?

I believe teachers who provide students high levels of social, emotional, and academic support are a critical lever in the movement for educational equity. I am so excited to work on a team where everyone is passionate about improving novice teachers’ readiness such that they enter the classroom equipped to support their students from day one.

Why do Deans for Impact’s guiding principles ring true for you?

One of our core values is to transform the system. This means our approach is holistic – we think about how we support teacher educators, mentor teachers, novice teachers, program faculty, and program administrators in equal measure. I also love our long-term commitment to this work. We focus equally on goals we want to meet in the near term, and the radical transformations we believe are possible in what novice teachers know, believe, and can do when they enter the classroom in the future.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

My favorite teacher was my AP calculus teacher Ms. Routenberg. She was absolutely uninterested in the narrative I had built about myself that I was a “humanities girl” who wasn’t capable of analogous performance in mathematics of science. Her response was just, “It sounds like you will be coming to each of my after school tutoring sessions then.” Her unwavering high expectations were due to her belief in each of her students’ capacity to master the material (and believe me, I gave her a lot of evidence that should have shaken that belief). Her willingness to support me when I really struggled meant that for the first time I began to understand and see the relationships between mathematical concepts. The time she spent with me meant that, yes, I did well in the course and assessments that year, but more importantly, I shifted how I thought of myself, what I was capable of, and how I approached learning things that didn’t come easily to me.

What’s your favorite food truck and why?

Bluegrass Creamery in Charlottesville, VA – I don’t know where else you can get soft serve ice cream made from milk from local pasture raised cows.

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