While it is sometimes difficult to use an anti-racist framework to inform and improve teaching and research, GSE school psychology visiting assistant professor Tamique Ridgard Peters, Ph.D., is doing just that. She notes, “I have been so inspired by our students’ call for action after the murder of George Floyd and their relentless commitment to social justice.” She added, “And more personally, as a Black woman, I feel a great sense of responsibility to help make the field of school psychology more diverse, more inclusive, and more equitable to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and families with whom we work.”
As racism and equity was thrust into the forefront of society, Ridgard says her anti-racist teaching framework became deliberately more intentional, and that she strives to incorporate topics related to racism and injustice throughout her lectures. Some of these topics have included information about racial disparities in school discipline; how to talk to children about race; ways to examine educational inequalities globally; and sharing the history of racism in psychology research. Also, as the admissions coordinator for the GSE’s school psychology program, Ridgard is exploring ways to make the program accessible to a more diverse group of students, including adjusting elements of admissions criteria and the admissions process.
In her own research, Ridgard is working with a small group of students to continue parenting research focused on creating increased access to quality mental health services for families, through integrated systems of care and two-generational parenting programs. To do this work, she is using community-based participatory action research, a methodology in which the researcher partners with community stakeholders to co-develop research projects designed to meet the needs of the community.
Ridgard was first attracted to teaching at Fordham because of its University-wide commitment to social justice. That commitment fits in perfectly with her research and clinical interests as well as her personal goals as she endeavors to address racial and socioeconomic disparities in mental health service delivery. When she specifically researched the school psychology program at Fordham, Ridgard Peters was further impressed by the diversity of the faculty and the student body. For her, “It has been a pleasure to work [at Fordham GSE]with colleagues and students who have a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ideas.”
Ridgard decided to pursue a career in academia because she had always loved teaching and mentoring. Early in her career, she was given opportunities to guest lecture, teach workshops, and mentor younger students; she is still in touch with many of these students. During her time at Fordham, she hopes to foster this same type of collegial environment among her students. And at the conclusion of her first year at Fordham, Ridgard says she’s had an amazing experience that has affirmed that academia is where she should be. Read more about Tamique Ridgard Peters and her work here.