The Penn GSE Magazine

Spring 2021

This online edition represents the content of the Spring 2021 hard copy issue that went to print on May 17, 2021.

The cover of the Spring 2021 issue of The Penn GSE Magazine. A silhouette of a student’s head in a graduation cap is filled with various images of the Penn GSE building, Penn campus views, students, and faculty. Headlines read “The Future of Higher Education: Penn GSE Faculty, Students, and Alumni Look Ahead”; “Preparing Future Citizens”; “Collaborating with Communities”; and “Professional Counseling Master’s Program.”

Images by, Greg Benson Photography, Allison Dougherty, Lora Reehling, Jay Gorodetzer Photography, Krista Patton Photography, and Ryan Collerd.

Cover Story

A mosaic of photos shows the Penn GSE building, Penn campus views, students, and faculty. Against the photos, a silhouette of a student’s head in a graduation cap is outlined in white.

The Future of Higher Education: Penn GSE Faculty, Students, and Alumni Look Ahead

Seeing hope amidst current challenges, Penn GSE professors, scholars, and graduates are examining the changing landscape of higher education and envisioning opportunities to advance educational opportunity and racial justice.



The Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania

Board of Advisors

Douglas R. Korn, W’84, Chair

Deborah L. Ancona, C’76, GED’77
Olumoroti G. Balogun, GRD’20
Brett H. Barth, W’93
Allison Jane Blitzer, C’91
Wallace Boston, GRD’10
Harlan B. Cherniak, W’01
Jolley Bruce Christman, GED’71, GR’87
Beth S. Ertel, W’88, WG’92
Jeffrey L. Goldberg, W’83, WG’89
Patricia Grant, GED’01, GRD’04
Joel M. Greenblatt, W’79, WG’80
Andrew Harris Jacobson, WG’93

Marjie G. Katz, GED’90
Lois M. Kohn-Claar, C’88, GED’88
Gustave K. Lipman, W’94
Jeffrey S. McKibben, W’93
Gregory A. Milken, C’95
Andrea Jill Pollack, C’83, L’87, GED’17
David N. Roberts, W’84
Francisco Jose Rodriguez, W’93
Molly P. Rouse-Terlevich, C’90, GED’00
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. ©2021 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
Abisah David
Jane L. Lindahl, GED’18
Jennifer Moore
Vanessa Rutigliano
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,

For more than a year, we have all been living through a time of extraordinary change and challenge, surrounded by uncertainty, loss, racial injustice, and national tumult. Across the field of education, faculty, staff, and students have had to navigate unprecedented circumstances. Yet this has also been a time of learning and growth, and one that gives our world an opportunity for real change for the better.


As you will read below,  I recently collaborated with Wharton School Dean Erika James on advice to help educational leaders cultivate the skills and mindsets to lead in a crisis. Dean James and I believe that through purposeful relationship building, decision making, and reflection, leaders can create change and innovation that outlast crises and support the long-term health of communities and institutions.

Leading through change is an area in which Penn GSE’s 2021 Commencement speaker, Michael Sorrell, GRD’15, a member of our Board of Advisors, had built remarkable experience well before the pandemic. As president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Sorrell transformed a struggling institution, successfully pioneering an urban work college model and reimagining the important role of our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in creating opportunity for students of color.

Heightened economic challenges due to the pandemic mean that the future of higher education will require continued bold efforts to ensure access for minoritized, low-income, and first-generation students. As you will read in the cover story  of this issue, Penn GSE faculty, students, and alumni are deeply committed to ensuring that as a new era dawns, the students most in need can gain access to lifelong opportunity through higher education. The many inspiring voices in the piece include that of Ivy Taylor, GRD’20, another HBCU president, who graduated from Penn GSE and stepped into her role at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, during the pandemic.

As you will see throughout this issue, the Penn GSE community is also having an impact on many other urgent issues of our time—supporting mental health, improving the lives of at-risk children, and fostering the ideals of democracy. I am proud that the latter topic, brought to life in “Preparing Future Citizens”  by four vibrant alumni, has long been a focus our faculty, including Drs. Sigal Ben-Porath, Jonathan Zimmerman, Krystal Strong, and Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher. Their research on democratic theory and practice, civic dialogue, free speech, political and social movements, citizenship, and belonging provides a foundation that is much-needed today as our country grapples with division and issues of inclusion. 

Despite a landscape that has been unfamiliar in so many ways since the pandemic began, the continued strengths of our community could not be more apparent, and I am thrilled that we have attained the #1 spot in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings for graduate schools of education. This recognition is a result of so much leadership and dedication across the School as we have worked together to ensure a brighter future through the power of education. Our impact truly is extraordinary, and following the conclusion of the Extraordinary Impact Campaign on June 30, we will be celebrating the many ways that our alumni and friends have made that impact possible. As always, thank you for your commitment to education and to Penn GSE.

Pam Grossman signature

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

Editor’s note: This issue of The Penn GSE Magazine went to print on May 17, 2021.


Bookshelf Spotlight

A Focus on Addition and Subtraction: Bringing Mathematics Education Research to the Classroom

By Caroline B. Ebby, E. T. Hulbert, and R. M. Broadhead

Published November 2020 by Routledge

Based on research gathered in the Ongoing Assessment Project, this book helps educators modify lessons and improve student learning of additive reasoning in the primary grades. It is designed to bridge the gap between math education research and teaching, so that teachers can better understand evidence in student work and make effective instructional decisions.

Caroline Ebby headshot
A Focus on Addition and Subtraction book cover

Sharon Ravitch headshot
Critical Leadership Praxis book cover

Critical Leadership Praxis for Educational and Social Change

By Katie Pak, GRD’19, and Sharon M. Ravitch

Published March 2021 by Teachers College Press

Many educational leaders find themselves responding inadequately to issues of inequity, in part due to preparation programs that fail to address the impact of systems of oppression. This book offers leadership frameworks that integrate critical theories for social change with everyday practice. It includes insights reflecting the worldwide pandemic crises of 2020.

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


A silhouette of a student’s head in a graduation cap is filled with various images of the Penn GSE building, Penn campus views, students, and faculty. A headline reads, “The Future of Higher Education

Seeing hope amidst current challenges, Penn GSE professors, scholars, and graduates are examining the changing landscape of higher education and envisioning opportunities to advance educational opportunity and racial justice.

Circle-shaped headshots of three Penn GSE alumni appear against a white background with the headline “Preparing Future Citizens."

By teaching, implementing curricula, creating experiences outside of the classroom, and engaging undergraduates in community service, these alumni are preparing the next generation for U.S. civic life.

The word “Celebrating” appears in a dark blue horizontal block. Below it is a logo made of dark blue, light blue, and bright red blocks against a white background. The logo reads, “Extraordinary Impact: The Campaign for Penn GSE.”

The largest fundraising effort in Penn GSE’s history is helping the School realize its five priorities and provide learners with the foundation for lifelong opportunity.

Outdoors, a woman wearing a backpack hugs two children. The three people are facing away from the camera. A headline reads, “Collaborating with Communities.”

Educational and social inequities have long been top of mind for Penn GSE’s Professor Vivian Gadsden, who works with families and educators to uplift the underserved and develop a new definition of child well-being.

A digital world map lit up by several points of light against a navy blue background. Icons symbolizing people are linked by beams across the map and beyond. A headline reads, “Engaging Graduates.”

Thirteen inaugural members are working to help Penn GSE create spaces for graduates to have meaningful engagement leading to continued professional growth.

Faculty appear in clasrooms in five tiled images. A lavender bar across the bottom reads, “Professional Counseling Master’s Program.”

Penn GSE students preparing for counseling careers have strived to deliver mental health services to vulnerable populations via virtual internships while studying remotely themselves.


The iconic red LOVE sculpture appears amidst green foliage on Penn’s campus

Alumni Notes

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

Read Alumni Notes


Tips from the Educator's Playbook

A lighthouse shines a yellow beam against a blue background

Leading in a Crisis

Deans Pam Grossman and Erika James argue that to be prepared, leaders need to consider the necessary crisis leadership practices that should occur before, during, and after a crisis happens.

Read More about Leading in a Crisis

Professional Development

A man in professional attire speaks to students in a classroom

Learn, Network, and Develop Your Knowledge

Without enrolling in a degree program, you can benefit from learning experiences with Penn faculty and the Penn community. Explore topics that include teaching and learning, strategic leadership, educational equity, and innovation.

Learn More about Professional Learning

2021 Graduates

A person in a graduation gown appears in silhouette before a window, holding up a mortarboard with one hand

It’s Time to Celebrate and Stay Engaged

As you enter a quickly changing world and job market, stay engaged in our community by taking advantage of Penn GSE Connects, an exclusive new platform to build professional relationships with Penn GSE students and alumni.

Sign Up for Penn GSE Connects

Make a Difference with Us

Headshot of Linda Oubre

“I like to say that education has the opportunity to transform the lives not only of individual students, but also of their entire families and communities. I give to Penn GSE because my alma mater is making a difference in the lives of the students who will change the world.”

—Linda S. Oubre, GRD’17, President and Professor of Business Administration, Whittier College

Learn More about ways to give

Extraordinary Impact

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