Category Archives: General Information

Meet Professor Andrea Flores!

Andrea_FloresAndrea Flores will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Brown University starting this Fall 2016. Her research focuses on how Latino youth who participate in a college readiness program in Nashville, Tennessee conceptualize the value of higher education and civic engagement for themselves, their families, and their communities. In particular, Andrea focuses on how educational aspiration is tied to Latino youth’s senses of self and feelings of socio-civic inclusion in the United States. Andrea is also interested in the role of school-community partnerships in both facilitating persistence in school and reshaping public education. Her next project follows a group of students she previously worked with as they transition into private religious colleges.

Prior to graduate school, Andrea worked as a research assistant at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she worked on projects on youth’s online ethics and young people’s conceptions of trust. Her work at Project Zero inspired her to pursue graduate work related to adolescents and education. She received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Harvard University and her doctoral degree in anthropology at Brown University. An NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, a grant from the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund, and fellowships from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation have supported her research. This fall, she will teach Education 1450, The Psychology of Teaching and Learning. As the sister of two elementary school teachers, she is very excited to be teaching in the MAT program. She is looking forward to getting to know the MAT students this fall and follow their progress during the year!

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Alumni Reunite at National Science Teachers Association Convention

MATs at NSTA
Professor Dan Bisaccio reunited with several recent Science MAT alumni at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference in Nashville, TN.

Pictured, Prof. Bisaccio poses with Brianna Balke (Science ’13), Warren Predizet (Science ’14), and Beth Leach-Savage (Science ’10). Other MAT alumni in attendance at the conference were Emily Berman (Science ’14) and Natalie Tarr (Science ’15).

Dan Bisaccio Presents on Next Generation Science Standards

Dan HeadshotProfessor Dan Bisaccio, Director of Science Education, presented two workshops at the Rhode Island Science Teachers Association Conference this past weekend (March 12, 2016). His topics included: Using Backwards Design to Identify Instructional Sequences that Prepare Students for NGSS Assessments and Modeling a NGSS Science Lesson using Inquiry and Engineering Practices.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for a shift in teachers’ practices in teaching and assessment of science. It is crucial for science teachers to develop the knowledge and skills in creating and implementing instructional and assessment tasks that align with the NGSS.

Student Perspective: Allie Curry on Curriculum Development

Allie CurryAllie Curry is a current Master of Arts in Teaching student concentrating in Secondary English Education. During her time student teaching at Brown Summer High School, Allie discovered a passion for the backwards-design approach to curriculum development taught by the Brown MAT Program.

Allie was kind enough to share with us some of her thoughts and reflections on this approach to teaching. Read her words below!


“I often think of K–12 curriculum as too important. In the hotly contested era of the Common Core, the American public debates whether curriculum is too important to be left to states or too important to be promoted by the federal government. In some urban school districts, curriculum is viewed as too important to be developed by teachers in the community, and so many cities are purchasing boxed curricula.

The Brown MAT program has taught me that curriculum is too important in a different sense. Beginning last summer in the first days of the program, I learned an approach to curriculum design that centers around Essential Questions—challenging, relevant, and authentic questions we ask about the world—and understandings, which, in the discipline of English at least, are rarely simple answers. With my talented teaching partner (another MAT), I developed a unit for a book we would teach to a diverse classroom of 9th through 12th graders over the course of Brown Summer High School, a free summer enrichment program for Providence-area youth.

In the afternoons, we paused our planning to take a Secondary program-wide course that has greatly influenced my teaching. Literacy Across the Curriculum challenged me to rethink my understanding of literacy and create curriculum that reflects and supports the community I teach. (I’ve thought about that class a lot in the first days of February. Curriculum—culturally relevant curriculum, that is—is too important to designate only a month of the year to the accomplishments of Black Americans.)

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I posed the question in the picture above (“Does the identity of the authors we read matter?”), as a part of a unit I designed during my student teaching semester last fall at a suburban public school south of Providence, North Kingstown High School. In my student teaching semester, I iterated and refined my curriculum design process to the point that I now feel prepared, confident, and excited to begin my first teaching job in an environment that will empower me to develop curriculum of real significance to my students and community.

The Brown MAT program will teach you to design and carry out lessons, units, and learning experiences that matter. Over the course of the program, I’ve seen many times how an Essential Questions curriculum encourages students to discover and construct knowledge in ways that will transfer to their lives beyond school. Ultimately, curriculum is too important because all students deserve access to challenging, relevant questions about the world and safe, supportive classrooms in which they can develop and express their diverse understandings.”

Meet our English Summer 2015 Mentors!

Each summer as our new cohorts take their first steps of the year into student teaching at Summer Prep (Elementary) or Brown Summer High School (Secondary), MAT students are equipped with the support of our enthusiastic mentor teachers.  Brown MAT mentor teachers are a diverse group of educators from public and private schools, some of whom received their Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University in years past!  They all share one thing in common: a dedication to shaping the newest members of their profession into the most effective teachers possible.

This year, our Secondary English mentors were kind enough to share a bit about themselves with the MAT blog.  Read their bios below!



PeterPeter Boland
 has been teaching English for nearly fifteen years in a career spanning public, private Catholic, continuing ed, college, the Upward Bound program, and charter schools. He has spent the past eight years at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts which he counts as a career highlight and an extremely rewarding experience. Over the course of the past eight years he has received a Golden Apple award, been nominated by Beacon as a State Teacher of the Year Candidate, and has served on the Educators in Action committee, an advisory board for Rhode Island’s outgoing Education Commissioner Deborah Gist. This is his second year as a Brown Summer High School M.A.T. Mentor and he is looking forward to working with his new team with great enthusiasm.

Daniel DeCellesDaniel G. DeCelles earned an MAT in Secondary English from Brown University in 2000, and an MA in ESL Education and Cross-Cultural Studies in 2014. He has taught grades 6-12 for 15 years in Central Falls, Rhode Island’s smallest, poorest, and most diverse community, with a focus on arts-integrated literacy. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Education at Johnson & Wales, a member of the Board of Directors for the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at Boston College. He has been a Mentor with the Brown Teacher Education program for nearly ten years.

Christina LawrenceChristina Lawrence teaches English at North Kingstown High School, a large suburban high school about half an hour south of Providence. Before moving to Providence, she attended Vassar College and majored in American Culture, with a focus on American Literature and Art History. Christina moved to Providence to attend the MAT program at Brown and graduated in 2008. Since then, she has worked in a variety of educational contexts in and around Providence, at both public and private schools and in non-profit organizations. Though she no longer works in Providence, she tries to maintain ties to after-school arts programming in Providence and volunteers at New Urban Arts. When not at school, Christina enjoys taking her dog, Rosie, on long walks around the city.

Kate LorchKate Lorch grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts and Little Compton, Rhode Island. One of her most influential high school English teachers was Margaret Metzger, a Brown Mentor and Visiting Professor. Kate attended University of California, Berkeley and studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa and Granada, Spain. She received her degree in Comparative Literature in English and Spanish.

Before returning to Rhode Island for the Brown MAT Program, Kate worked as a vocational trainer in San Francisco, coaching homeless youth and adults with psychiatric disabilities in job readiness and workplace skills. Attending Brown and returning as a mentor in the summer program was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Kate. For the past ten years she has taught high school in Providence Public Schools and Marin County, California. She earned National Board Certification in 2008. For the past three years of her work at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, CA she has served as the mentor to new teachers at Tam, coaching new teachers one-on-one, serving as a California Beginning Teacher Support Provider, and co-teaching Instructional Design workshops to new teachers in all disciplines district-wide. This year Kate is on sabbatical from teaching while she explores her interest in adult learning styles and organizational development models and starts her own family.

Screen shot 2015-07-01 at 11.24.08 AMVanessa O’Driscoll is the Middle School Dean of Students and an English teacher at The Wheeler School in Providence. After living in the same ancient farmhouse in Massachusetts for the first eighteen years of her life, Vanessa moved to Swarthmore College and then to New York City. There, she lived in a total of eight different apartments over eight years, while working in arts administration and arts education. Managing a course called Shakespeare Teaches at BAM helped her realize that she didn’t feel like returning to her office from the classroom. Vanessa earned her M.A. in education from Columbia University Teachers College and taught at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School before moving to Rhode Island. She has been a mentor teacher with the Brown University Education department for five years. She no longer moves every year, and has settled in Providence with her husband and two children and a cantankerous cat.


Tamar PaullTamar Paull
 was a UTEP at Brown in 1996, and had the good fortune to be placed at Community Prep, a small independent school on the Southside of Providence. Little did she know, she would fall in love with the school and end up spending the first fifteen years of her career teaching language arts and social studies in the seventh and eighth grades there. After she and her wife adopted their twin sons, she took a year off from teaching to take care of them before starting work at Gordon School, an independent nursery through eighth grade in East Providence. She currently teach humanities and academic support to seventh and eighth graders at Gordon. She has mentored in the Brown Teacher Education program on and off since 2004 and has also worked as a teacher coach at Sophia Academy, a middle school for girls in Providence. Somewhere in there, she spent five glorious summers in Vermont completing a Master’s degree in English at Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. When she’s not teaching, preparing to teach, or talking about teaching, she can be found doing such glamorous things as laundry, dishes, or training for her first 5K (though by the time you read this, she may have given up).

Erik SkogsbergErik Skogsberg is currently an Assistant Secondary Coordinator and PhD Candidate in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. He is passionate about teaching and learning innovation that responds to the needs of schools, communities, and organizations. He brings a wealth of teaching, mentoring, curriculum design, and professional development experiences in both secondary and higher education across the US and in rural, urban, and suburban classroom and community spaces.

As a PhD Candidate in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education (CITE) at Michigan State University (MSU), his current research focuses on pre-service teacher (PST) development towards the inclusion of youth literacies, digital literacies, and culturally sustaining, dialogic pedagogies in the secondary English classroom. He teaches courses focused on disciplinary and youth literacies, digital literacies and educational technology, teacher identity, and secondary English methods for PST’s. Additionally, as the Assistant Secondary Coordinator in the Department of Teacher Education at MSU, he works closely with university, district, and community administrators and teachers to place junior-year students in classrooms and community sites that support optimal PST learning and fit with university, district, classroom, and organizational goals. Further, he supports graduate teaching assistant (TA) professional development across MSU through his work with Inside Teaching MSU and the MSU Graduate School.

Prior to his time at MSU, he taught high school English in Washington State and Rhode Island, as well as worked in Residence Life and College Admissions at Western Washington University (WWU). He holds degrees in English Literature (BA) from WWU and Secondary English Education (MAT) from Brown University.

Twitter: @erikskogs
LinkedIn: http://lnkd.in/dteNfPH

“The Beginning of Something New” for Brown 5th-Year Students

Each year, a number of students in our cohort consist of Brown “5th-Years”: those who have just completed their undergraduate education at Brown University, and opt to stay on board for another year as they earn their MAT degree. We asked a few of our current 5th-Years to share their thoughts and feelings on their extra year at Brown.

Wendy Rogers, History/Social Studies MAT ‘15

Continuing at Brown for a fifth-year in the MAT program allows you to experience the invigorating newness of freshman year with the sense of purpose and comfort that can only be achieved after spending four years already on campus. In many ways, the classes feel like regular undergrad courses (and often, they are). However, approaching the courses through the lens of a teacher-in-training, as opposed to an undergrad with an abstract interest in the subject, allows for what I have found to be a much more fulfilling classroom experience. Now, when I listen to a lecture or participate in a discussion section, my thoughts aren’t just on final papers. Instead I ask, “How can I teach this to my students so they are as engaged as I am right now?” In many ways, the fifth year feels like just that – a fifth year in the same place. In more important ways, it feels like the beginning of something new.

ToriTeachingSummer14Victoria Wilson, Elementary MAT ‘15

During SummerPrep, I felt for the first time that I was truly immersed in a ‘world’ of teaching. Sure, I had plenty of teaching experiences in the past – I had taught at D’Abate’s summer program, as well as in a number of other classrooms as an assistant teacher – but SummerPrep’s days provided me a glimpse into how everyday teaching in a classroom might look and feel. I came to know not only a new kind of exhaustion, arriving at 7:30 AM each day and leaving after my own literacy, math, or analysis class at 5:00 PM, but also a different sort of flexibility. I became more familiar with lesson planning, preparing my materials days in advance, and learning to tweak them based on students’ progress and needs gleaned from the previous day. I saw how units of study, such as the literacy unit plan my co-teacher and I developed together, could transform as we realized what our students could do and what we might in turn challenge them to discover. I learned how wonderful it is to plan my questions in advance – never before had I realized they would be that much better – yet that I must also remember to think on my feet, taking each new question or comment from a child thoughtfully as it comes.

After SummerPrep, I felt ready to enter my fall placement at Pleasant View Elementary School. I know how  to remain flexible with lesson planning, and I know how to better manage my time. Although my placement has brought new challenges for me – and, of course, I am always learning – I am grateful for the experience I had this summer.

Spotlight On Alumni: Ally Miller ’13

ally-miller

In this interview, Ally Miller discusses how Brown’s MAT program helped her reach her goals in classroom management, and securing a teaching position shortly after graduation.

What were you doing before the program?
Prior to beginning the program at Brown, I was studying Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara. I was a recent graduate when I began the MAT program and I had only had pre-professional experience in the classroom consisting mostly of observations and volunteering at a teacher’s assistant.

What are you doing now?
I am currently a sixth grade English teacher at a brand new charter middle school in Los Angeles, CA.

What attracted you to Brown’s program?
I was attracted to a lot of the aspects of the program at Brown, but the two top things would have to be the amount of classroom experience I would graduate with and the opportunity for an academic focused semester. It was really important to me that I would have adequate classroom time, but I found it equally valuable to have the chance to take classes in my content area from an educator’s perspective.

What was the highlight of the program?
The highlight of the program for me would have to be my student teaching semester. I had an incredible placement and I learned so much! Being in the classroom everyday for a semester really benefitted my learning and helped to strengthen my teaching practice.

How did the program meet your expectations?
The program helped to develop my teaching practice in a number of ways. I walked away from the Brown MAT program with competitive unit designing skills, a large amount of time in the classroom, as well as a repertoire of popular teaching literature that helped me secure a teaching position shortly after graduation.

How did the program help you meet your personal goals?
One of my most important personal goals was to come away with a tool kit to use in my own classroom for behavior management. I had heard that this was critical for first year teachers and I wanted to be sure to develop these skills as much as possible. From the very beginning with Brown Summer High School, this personal goal was already on the way to being met. By graduation I had had many conversations with knowledgeable faculty and mentors to help me strengthen my knowledge of classroom management. I had also read a number of sources that would help me hit the ground running when I entered my own classroom.

What do you like best about your work as a teacher?
My favorite part of teaching has always been the relationships that I get to build with my students. I enjoy getting to know them as people, learning what motivates them, and using this knowledge to help them succeed.

What would you tell someone considering the Brown MAT?
I would tell anyone considering the Brown MAT program that they should highly consider this program as an option. The Brown MAT program helps to create highly competitive applicants, and I can honestly say that I felt truly prepared for my career after graduation.

About the Brown MAT Program

The Brown Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program is an intensive one year master’s and certification program that prepares tomorrow’s teacher leaders. The program prepares teachers in elementary education (grades 1-6) or secondary education (grades 7-12) English, history/social studies, or science (biology, chemistry, or engineering/physics).

The Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Brown University prepares future educators to enter the classroom ready to create a community of high achievement for all students. With a passionate commitment to equity and social justice, MAT candidates become content experts who create innovative and rigorous learning experiences for youth. The program is intentionally small in size and fosters close collaboration with faculty and mentor teachers.