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Fordham Graduate School of Education Doctoral Student Completes Fulbright-Hays Group Research Project in Ghana

Fordham University Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy (ELAP) doctoral student Celeste Coleman is reflecting on her Fulbright-Hays Group Research Project in July 2022, an experience studying cultural and linguistic diversity and pedagogies in Ghanaian urban and rural public and private school settings. Coleman and 12 fellow female educators and doctoral students of color completed the project.

Funded by a Congressional appropriation to the United States Department of Education, the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Program provides grants to select educators, administrators, institutions, and other organizations to support a variety of educational research and training efforts abroad.

While in Ghana, Coleman visited school and cultural sites to study Afro-diasporic pedagogies. Observing principals, educators, and students complements Coleman’s day-to-day work at home as a New York City Department of Education Bronx Borough Office Advance Lead, focused on equity and excellence working for the Bronx District #11 superintendent.

In comparing Ghanaian school environments to the American classrooms with which she is familiar, Coleman reflects, “I think the biggest and most impactful thing about visiting schools in Ghana was seeing the differences in relationships and in how students were treated in classrooms. I think a lot of the things that I was seeing are ideals here, but we have no idea of the scope or depth of the pedagogy that could be here . . . In Ghana, the pedagogy was strong, but there were a lot of disparities—economic disparities and social disparities—that we don’t deal with here.”

Coleman continues, “What we did find were strong connections between teachers and students. [The teachers] demanded excellence, ‘no matter if we don’t have any paper, we don’t have any books, we don’t have any pens or pencils. We’re still demanding excellence, right?’ And that’s not a demand that we make of our students here.”

Coleman’s experience was professionally and personally impactful. She shares, “I was thinking a lot about how I changed when I came back . . . I’ve been able to reconnect to my cultural roots as a Black woman through this experience and learning what that really means for how I coach, what I prioritize, [and]how I research, especially.”

Weaving together her expertise in educational equity and excellence and her research experience in Ghana, Coleman will speak about her work on the Bronx Equity Sustaining Team (BESTeam), and its use of Afro-diasporic pedagogies to develop district leaders’ abilities to disrupt inequitable practices, at the Courageous Conversations About Race National Summit in Washington, D.C in October 2022.

Coleman’s involvement with Courageous Conversations began when she was a district leader working in the Bronx with Meisha Ross Porter—the former New York City Schools Chancellor and current Founding CEO of the Bronx Community Foundation. Coleman incorporates Courageous Conversations into her principal and educator coaching practice, which provides a critical lens for professional development to drive teacher effectiveness,


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