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Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipient: Jen Lehe, AIE'10

Jen LeheArts in Education (AIE) student Jennifer Lehe came from Brooklyn with an eagerness to learn more about the "so-called achievement gap." As a teacher, mentor, and student, Lehe said she was tired of seeing kids struggle in the name of promoting equality. Now that her time at HGSE is coming to a close, Lehe admits that the speculations that brought her to HGSE have definitely expanded in ways that are sometimes more refined and yet sometimes messier than before.

"Jen is relentlessly curious. Her inquiring mind probes and digs, leading her to ask questions that are usually very hard answer. Her questions often suggest new perspectives from which to analyze a situation or issue," says Professor Steve Seidel, director of AIE. "Since Jen doesn't seem to have any interest in easy answers, it is okay with her to acknowledge what you don't know and get down to the business of really investigating a problem. Her analytic mind, sense of fairness, and great spirit have characterized her wonderful contributions to our work this year in AIE."

Upon learning that she had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for AIE, Lehe answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and beyond.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?
The importance of moving back and forth between the on-the-ground experience and policy.

Is there any professor who significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School?
Karen Mapp. She patiently led the class [School, Family, and Community Partnerships] through a profound shift in thinking about the role of families, communities, and teaching professionals. Her class should be mandatory -- until she leaves to become Secretary of Education.

How did you stay inspired throughout the year?
Talking to my friends about their lives, practices, and ideas was critical in the fall. In the spring I got into a groove where the work I was doing was plenty to inspire me, but my friends kept me balanced.

Any special study spots on campus (or off)?
I live with three other HGSE students, and our kitchen table is a pretty special spot to "study," but when I want to get work done I grab a carrel on the second floor of Gutman. The law library is a better place to focus, but it feels pretty great to chat with five friends on your way to and from a coffee run.

What advice do you have for next year's students going through your program?
Branch out, own your knowledge and your ignorance, and get involved in making HGSE the school you want it to be.

What will you change in education and why?
In whatever capacity I work, I hope to change what people think that education is for and what it can look like.


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