When the idea of contigence education first came to me, I wrote this poem. I only shared it with one person at that time:
Because we have become best at not facing it.
so I say,
dance in the light of dying things.
let the rays of the fading sun shine through your eyes your wings your flitting kin.
fill your tiny body with the last golden breaths of the day.
be joy and forgetfulness and brevity.
know that – as you flash and shimmer through the air –
the true beauty of any fire
is in its going out.
Much like this poem, the concept of contingence education is built on many years of study and contemplation and, I hope, will continue to be built upon both by myself and many others. I believe that my life has consistently reminded me of the beauty that can be found in recognizing our connections to each other and our world.
A child of a single-parent household in my younger years, and a blended family as a teenager, I lived in Delaware and Florida. As a child, I did well in school, and I grew to believe in traditional schooling as the primary vehicle for social and economic advancement. I graduated at the top of my class and moved to attend Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.
After four years, I crossed Agnes Scott’s 2001 commencement stage with my bachelor’s degree in history… and my first child was born two weeks later. When I crossed the stage in 2003, this time with a master’s degree in teaching English, I was pregnant with my second child. In the nine years that followed, I established myself as a high school English teacher and my then-husband and I had two more children. My experiences as a young mother of color from a working class background caused me to prioritize social justice in my daily teaching practice. Coming out as queer after my divorce further shaped my professional and personal mission of equity for all people, regardless of social status.
In 2016, I earned my Ph.D. in Educational Policy and was soon hired for my first academic position. As an assistant professor of education at the University of North Georgia, I teach pre-service teachers about the foundational elements of schooling and how to better serve marginalized students. As both a doctoral student and new professor, I published numerous creative and academic articles and chapters, and presented at multiple academic conferences. When away from campus, I continued my work toward education justice – from co-organizing education conferences and events to participating in an inclusive chaplaincy program. Through that time, my varied life experiences afforded me an empathy that propelled my work in social justice and educational access. I have counted and continue to count my five children as the reason I have done this work, and my wife, Christina, as my biggest supporter.
At this time, I am interested in not only exploring education’s and schooling’s effect on marginalized groups within the United States, but in how we can imagine education beyond our limited conceptualizations of it. As we are able to move our understandings of education from schooling (or refusal to school) to how and what we need to learn in order to have the best collective human experience while on this planet, I believe that we can have better relationships with ourselves, each other, and the planet.
But we need to get started, first. And that’ll take me. And you.