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I am an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School of Education. I completed my Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and hold an M.S.Ed. and B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Before beginning my doctoral studies, I was a Michael Pressley Memorial Fellow at the Benchmark School in Media, PA where I taught adolescents experiencing reading difficulty in grades 6, 7 and 8, and served as a reading specialist. I have also worked as a pre-school and elementary grade educator. 


Currently, my research, which includes quantitative and qualitative studies, explores the relationships between language development and reading skill in adolescent learners with a particular focus on English learners. My research suggests that middle childhood is a period of rapid development in the knowledge of word, sentence and discourse resources used for communication in academic discourse communities and commonly found in school texts, known as 'academic language.' Using a novel measure of academic language (designed and validated in collaboration with Dr. Paola Uccelli, Dr. Christiopher Barr), the Core Academic Language Skills-Instrument, my research has examined the co-development of academic language and reading proficiency. These studies link skilled reading with more rapid academic language development and further suggest that interaction with classmates that bring more developed academic language skills foster school-relevant language growth during middle childhood for multilingual students and their classmates. My studies focused in classrooms offer some insight into how rich language-focused discussion (or 'metatalk') can foster academic language knowledge in learners while building on the linguistic knowledge that all student have developed as skilled language users in multiple contexts and communities. In order to support educators to foster academic language development as part of rich and meaningful classroom talk, I am presently working to design and validate a measure of language interaction known as the Assessment of Academic Register Learning Opportunities (AARLO). 


With the goal of advancing anti-racist pedagogy, my work aims to positions school-relevant language as a semiotic resource for critically examining inequality, envisioning change, fostering learner agency, and nurturing minoritized learners’ socioemotional, professional, and political aspirations. In the realm of pedagogy, I am currently working with colleagues (Bob Jiménez, Amanda Goodwin, Mikel Cole, Sam David and Mark Pacheco) as part of a Spencer Foundation funded initiative, known as TRANSLATE, to design a curriculum that combines translingual pedagogies with English reading instruction for use in 4th and 5th grade classrooms serving multilingual learners. 


My studies are funded by IES, the Spencer Foundation and NIH. My work has been featured in the Journal of Educational Psychology, Reading Research Quarterly, Applied Psycholinguistics and Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. With a commitment to advancing research-practice partnerships, I have also worked with teachers, school leaders, and administrators in two of the largest urban districts in the United States. The fundamentals and lessons learned from this work are featured in a recent book entitled, Advanced Literacy Instruction in Linguistically Diverse Settings: A Guide for School Leaders, co-authored with Nonie Lesaux and Sky Marietta. This book offers a blueprint for leading advanced literacy instruction in linguistically diverse settings.


My areas of specialization include educational linguistics, language and reading development, reading difficulty, and English Learners.


Fellowships,Honors & Awards 



  • Article selected as Outstanding Article of the Year Award for 2019 by Language Learning

  • William T. Grant Foundation Finalist (1 of 10), 2020 


  • Article selected as Outstanding Article of the Year Award for 2019 by Language Learning

  • AERA-SRCD Early Career Fellowship in Middle Childhood Education and Development, 2019-2021


  • International Literacy Association, Outstanding Dissertation Award Finalist, 2017

  • Article among the top 10 downloaded from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy in 2017-2018



  • Jeanne Chall Doctoral Thesis Award


  • Harvard Graduate School of Education Larsen Fellowship (2010-2015)

  • Jeanne Chall Memorial Travel Grant

  • Harvard Graduate School of Education Doctoral Student Travel Grant


  • Dean’s Summer Fellowship

  • Qualifying paper passed with distinction

  • Jeanne Chall Memorial Travel Grant

  • Harvard Graduate School of Education Doctoral Student Travel Grant


  • Harvard Graduate School of Education Doctoral Student Travel Grant



  • Michael Pressley Memorial Fellow, Benchmark School, January (2006 - 2010)


  • National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for Study in Italy


  • Phi Beta Kappa, University of Pennsylvania  

  • Magna Cum Laude, University of Pennsylvania



  • Friar’s Senior Honor Society, University of Pennsylvania


Doctor of Education 

Harvard University, Graduate School of Education 


Master of Science in Education 

University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education 


Bachelor of Arts

University of Pennsylvania 

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