The Penn GSE Magazine

Spring 2020

This online edition represents the content of the printed Spring 2020 issue that was mailed to alumni and friends on May 12, 2020. For responses to recent events, please visit the Penn GSE Messages from the Dean’s Office page and the Penn Alumni Antiracist Education & Action page.

Spring 2020 Penn GSE Magazine Cover

Cover Story

Partnering to Shape Urban Education

Penn GSE Builds National Models and Practitioner Communities

Cover Image: Parts Per Million © 2019 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Benjamin Volta, Southern High School, 2101 South Broad Street. Photo by Steve Weinik



The Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania

Board of Overseers

David N. Roberts, W’84, Chair
Deborah L. Ancona, C’76, GED’77
Brett H. Barth, W’93
Allison Jane Blitzer, C’91
Wallace Boston, GRD’10
Jolley Bruce Christman, GED’71, GR’87
Beth S. Ertel, W’88, WG’92
Jeffrey L. Goldberg, W’83, WG’89
Joel M. Greenblatt, W’79, WG’80
Wendy Marcus Greenfield, W’78
Andrew Harris Jacobson, WG’93

Marjie G. Katz, GED’90
Lois M. Kohn-Claar, C’88, GED’88
Douglas R. Korn, W’84
Gustave K. Lipman, W’94
Jeffrey S. McKibben, W’93
Gregory A. Milken, C’95
Matthew Vincent O’Malley, GED’95
Andrea Jill Pollack, C’83, L’87, GED’17
Michael J. Sorrell, GRD’15
Navin M. Valrani, W’93, GED’18
Steven M. Wagshal, W’94

The Penn GSE Magazine is produced by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6216. Reproduction of these articles requires written permission from Penn GSE. ©2020 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Please contact Penn GSE at 215-898-9704 for references. Please contact to update your address.

Pam Grossman

Melissa R. Calvert, GED’00

Juliana Rosati

Editorial Board:

Sara Cantwell
Carson Easterly
Jane L. Lindahl, GED’18
Jennifer Moore
Kat Stein


Print edition and web graphics by Ten Eleven Design

Web design by Penn GSE IT Web Team

The University of Pennsylvania values diversity and seeks talented students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected class status in the administration of its admissions, financial aid, educational or athletic programs, or other University-administered programs or in its employment practices. Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to the Executive Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, Franklin Building, Suite 421, 3451 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206; or 215-898-6993 (Voice).




Letter from the Dean

Headshot of Dean Pam Grossman on Locust Walk

Dear Alumni and Friends,

As I write, we are concluding a semester unlike any other. Since the University’s transition in March to virtual teaching and learning due to COVID-19, Penn GSE students have been continuing their studies off campus. Many of them faced the disruption of moving, in some cases across the world. Our faculty and staff have adjusted to working and teaching remotely. I’m sure that you are navigating unanticipated circumstances that impact your work, home, and family life. Across our nation and around the globe, it is a time of tremendous uncertainty and challenges.


In the face of enormous changes, however, the strength of the Penn GSE community has remained unchanged. If this time has taught me anything, it is that our community is a resilient and generous one. Across the School, people have jumped in to develop resources for working and teaching remotely and to provide training. Faculty have redesigned their syllabi and offered advice to help educators and parents adapt. Staff have helped each other stay in touch and maintain our operations. Students have met virtually to support one another. Although distance divides us, we are united as a community.

Much of this issue of The Penn GSE Magazine captures the on-campus portion of our spring semester. I hope you will find in it a source of inspiration, and a reminder of the daily rhythms we long to resume in brighter times ahead. In February we were delighted to mark the launch of an exciting new partnership with the prestigious Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education and to offer the first programming of our new Center for Professional Learning .

This issue brings a particular focus to Penn GSE’s strengths in urban education. In the cover story , you will learn how the School is working in Philadelphia to build national models of instruction and data use to improve underserved children’s lives. Our alumni feature  highlights an array of graduates working in cities across the country as leaders and educators. As we look at the present and future of urban education, it is a devastating fact that the COVID-19 crisis has complicated an already challenging landscape. Urban schools have struggled to provide education to students lacking internet access at home. The economic impact of the crisis is exacerbating the risks outside of school—poverty, hunger, homelessness, and more—faced by underserved children. These troubling shifts make our work as educators more important than ever.

The faculty, students, and alumni featured in this issue have gone on to adapt to the “new normal” of remote and virtual work, and it is clear that they have tremendous dedication and expertise to offer in these challenging times. Educators and leaders are being called upon for courage and innovation to help their organizations address the crisis, and we look forward to sharing how our alumni have contributed. Please share your stories with us at  

We also want to help you stay connected and continue learning, during the crisis and beyond. I hope you will explore our new platform for alumni, Penn GSE Connects, at, and visit our events calendar at to find our online learning opportunities for educators and leaders.

I could not be prouder of all our community has accomplished, during familiar and unfamiliar times, and I thank you, our alumni and friends, for your part in our extraordinary impact.

Pam Grossman
Dean, Penn Graduate School of Education
George and Diane Weiss Professor of Education

This message appeared in the Spring 2020 print edition of The Penn GSE Magazine, published May 12, 2020. For responses to recent events, please visit the Penn GSE Messages from the Dean’s Office page and the Penn Alumni Antiracist Education & Action page.


Bookshelf Spotlight

Class Action: Desegregation and Diversity in San Francisco Schools

By Rand Quinn

Published January 2020 by University of Minnesota Press 

This book chronicles the history of school desegregation and activism in San Francisco following the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. The book explores the relationships between law and community-based activism, and between multiracial politics and urban education reform. Dr. Quinn is an associate professor at Penn GSE primarily affiliated with the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership division. 

Find other recent books by Penn GSE faculty in the Faculty Bookshelf

Rand Quinn headshot
Class Action book cover


A colorful mural is painted on a South Philadelphia high school. The Philadelphia skyline is visible behind the school. A purple block in the lower left reads, “Spring 2020, Partnering to Shape Urban Education

Penn GSE is working in Philadelphia to establish national models of instruction and data use—and improve children’s lives both in and outside of school.

Headshots of five alumni appear in a checkerboard pattern with a blue square in the upper left that says, “Penn GSE Alumni Lead and Innovate”

As leaders and educators, Penn GSE alumni are making an impact in urban education across the country.

Headshots of faculty members Betty Chandy, Zachary Herrmann, Caroline Watts, and Ryan Baker are separated by colorful rectangles

As the COVID-19 crisis brought dramatic changes to the education landscape this spring, Penn GSE faculty shared their perspectives to help educators and families.

A man wearing glasses and professional attire stands and teaches in front of a classroom.

Penn GSE’s new Center for Professional Learning will allow working professionals to deepen their knowledge, build their professional networks, and grow their careers.

A young woman sits in an armchair and a young man stands folding his arms. Both are smiling and wearing professional attire; a white rectangle between them says “Graduate Assistantships Empower Students to Lead While Learning”

Penn GSE’s graduate assistantship program provides practical experience that complements students’ coursework and prepares them for future careers.

President Amy Gutmann, Dean Grossman, and members of the McGraw family stand together smiling at the camera.

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation and Penn GSE Create New Partnership to Advance Excellence in Education

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation and Penn GSE have established a new partnership to enhance and expand one of the most prestigious honors in education.


Two people at an alumni event looking at the camera, one in a Penn sweatshirt and the other with a colorful scarf

Alumni Notes

Penn GSE alumni notes reveal the many ways our graduates are having an impact as educators and leaders.

Read All Alumni Notes


Tips from the Educator's Playbook

Drawing of a hand placing coins on one side of a balanced scale with textbooks and a graduation cap on the other side

Calculating the Costs of College

Dr. Laura W. Perna offers five questions for families to focus on when navigating the Net Price Calculator (NPC), a tool that should be available on the website of every college that accepts any kind of federal aid.


Illustration by Oakenman

Stay Connected

A globe with a banner that says Penn GSE is sitting outdoors next to green hedges

Penn GSE Connects

Penn GSE Connects is a new professional networking community designed specifically for Penn GSE alumni and students. Join today and self-select ways to engage with the Penn GSE community via avenues of mentorship, industry affiliation, or professional development.

Sign Up

On Campus

Dean Pam Grossman and Angela Duckworth stand in front of a wood paneled wall smiling at the camera

Homecoming 2019

Penn GSE hosted a dialogue between two education experts for alumni and friends during Penn’s Homecoming Weekend on November 9. Angela Duckworth joined Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman for a conversation about learning and character.

Thank you!

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Penn GSE is grateful for your support.

Because of you, the School is having an outsized impact by educating future leaders to make a difference in communities around the world.

Learn More

Extraordinary Impact

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