Crossroads in Education


Josh Bearman 
Science Teacher, Lucille Brown Middle School
Entering his fifth year as a teacher of record for Lucille Brown Middle School, Josh Bearman does all that he can to make learning real for his students. Whether he is taking them down to the James River for what he describes as “good old fashioned, hands-on learning,” or bringing his banjo to class, he is committed to his craft. We talked with Josh about how we can be more equitable in public education, and a little bit about bluegrass music.


Andrew Daire
VCU School of Education

In his second year as Dean of the VCU School of Education, Dr. Daire is leading a school that seeks to encourage educational researchers to conduct their work with an eye on community impact and equip teachers for service in urban, high-poverty public school settings. We spoke with him about how teacher preparation programs are evolving and the future of community-engaged education research.

James Lane
Chesterfield County Public Schools
As the Superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools, Dr. James Lane is responsible for overseeing the education of 60,000 students in 63 schools. We talked with him about the work that he does for students and educators in Chesterfield and how shifting policies have impacted those efforts.

Kurt Stemhagen and Brionna Nomi
Richmond Teachers for Social Justice
As researchers in the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University and advocates for teachers in the metropolitan Richmond area, Kurt and Brionna remain focused on current issues in public education and their local implications. They also work with Richmond Teachers for Social Justice, a collection of local educators focused on issues of justice and equity in our public schools. We talked with them about their research and advocacy work and what they see as the future of public education.

Preservice Teachers 
Virginia Commonwealth University
We talked with Jessica Shim, Tyler Arnold, and Sarah Hunter who are studying to become teachers in local public schools. They shared their reasons for becoming teachers, what impact they hope to make, and what they expect the role of a public school teacher to be in the future.

Terry Dozier
Center for Teacher Leadership and Richmond Teacher Residency Program at Virginia Commonwealth University

As the Director of the Center for Teacher Leadership (CTL) at VCU, Dr. Dozier focuses on providing high quality training to local educators to make them change agents in their schools. She also oversees the Richmond Teacher Residency (RTR) program within the CTL, which works to equip new teachers with the skills and experience they need to serve in high need, urban public school systems like Richmond Public Schools. We talked with her about the role of teachers in an evolving public education landscape.

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
Educational Leadership, Virginia Commonwealth University
As an assistant professor of educational leadership in Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education,
Dr. Siegel-Hawley’s research focuses
on the social and political contexts that
lead to racial and socioeconomic stratification in public schools. We talked to her about how this stratification impacts students and what some solutions might be for ensuring a more equitable public education system.

What is the Crossroads in Education series?

In connection with the upcoming 14th Annual MERC Conference, Public Education at a Crossroads: Connecting Voices of Research, Policy, and Practice in a Changing World, Abstract has launched a series exploring local perspectives on the current state and future  direction of public education in our country. The history of public education is one of never ending reform, however, it is clear that we are at a critical juncture. Recent debates about how to best serve our PK12 students have raised a number of questions about where we are and where we are going. For example: How will new federal policies like the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) shape the priorities and initiatives within our local and state systems? How might rapid demographic changes within cities, suburbs and rural communities impact schools? How will the rapid influx of technology continue to change  the processes of teaching and learning and the experiences of students? Amid discussions  of school vouchers, charter schools and public-private partnerships, what does it really means for a school to be public? And, given the quickly changing political and social dynamics within our country and around the world, how do public schools respond?

Answering these question requires engaging the voices of a wide range of stakeholders. Everyone is affected in some way by the decisions we make about how we educate our students. The Abstract: Crossroads in Education series shares the diverse perspectives of people contributing to public education in the metropolitan Richmond area. We want to know what they think about the purpose of our public schools, what is working well, and how the future of public education might look.. There is a lot we can learn from each other if we are willing to listen.

Starting this summer, Abstract will feature interviews and group discussions with different stakeholders in public education, including educators, students, parents, and policymakers. These conversations will offer a holistic picture of our local approach to public education and the broader implications of the actions we take on behalf of our students. Each conversation will be released separately in its entirety throughout the summer and early fall, culminating in a full episode released after the MERC conference that brings these perspectives together. We hope that these conversations will enhance our understanding about what is at stake, not only in the metropolitan Richmond area, but for the direction of public education throughout our country.

In addition to talking to each stakeholder about their area of expertise, we ask them each the same four questions:

What is the purpose of public schools?

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing public schools today?

What role does research play in advancing public education?

What do you see as the future of public schools?

Join the conversation! Share your thoughts on the four questions asked of each of our stakeholders here

Upcoming Episodes:

Tameshia Grimes, Director of Equity and Student Support Services for Chesterfield County Public Schools
In her position with CCPS, Dr. Grimes oversees student support services for the school division, including school counseling, school psychology, school social work, student health, Title III, Early Childhood Special Education, Head Start, Virginia Preschool Initiative and the Virginia Preschool Initiative Expansion, and alternative education. We talked with her about how she advocates for equity in her service to students and how she works to build “strong children” every day.

MERC Conference Participants
This could be you! This year’s MERC conference will bring together stakeholders from education policy, practice, and research. Each participant will come to the conference with a question about public education as it relates to the work that they do. We will talk to participants at the conference about their questions, their reasons for attending, and their vision for the future of public education.

We have many more conversations and episodes planned for the future. Stay tuned!



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