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Blake Noel, PSP'11: Call to Action

Blake NoelChicago native Blake Noel wants to reform teacher education. "I plan to teach teachers about the importance of identity and relationships, and provide some frameworks for addressing these areas within the classroom," he says.

He enrolled in the Prevention Science and Practice (PSP) Program to improve his own research, and leaves the program having greatly affected his classmates and faculty.

"Blake has a critical mind, a thoughtful demeanor and a sense of humor, all of which have shaped PSP student and faculty experiences this year," says Lecturer Mandy Savitz-Romer, director of PSP. "Outside of his own coursework and research, Blake has been behind a range of growth opportunities for students -- hosting movies, convening student-led topical discussion groups, and supporting a classmate's project at a nearby high school."

Upon learning that he had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for PSP, Noel answered some questions about his time at the Ed School.

Are your current goals any different from what they were when you came to the Ed School? Now, I want to conduct research. Far from being somehow objective, I've learned that research is rooted in the interests and experiences of the researcher. For me, this is a call to action. If I want to know the answers to questions that are important to me, and relevant for educators, I must conduct the research. The "what" of research is strongly correlated to the 'who' of the researcher.

What are your post-HGSE plans? I will be pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Michigan in the Teaching and Teacher Education program. My long-term career goals are to teach teachers, both at the university level and as a professional development consultant for a large, urban school district. I also want to conduct research on relationships in the classroom, the effects of poverty on educational outcomes, and the use of social justice in social studies curriculum.

Is there any professor who significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School? Robert Selman has profoundly impacted my life and my time at HGSE. We share so much in terms of interest and philosophical-orientation. We both care about social-emotional development and the big ideas. He has given me great guidance and provided several opportunities for me to grow both as a researcher and educator. He has been incredibly supportive, in writing letters of recommendation and in lending me his social capital. I cannot imagine my experience this year without him. I truly believe that he cares more about my success than his own. Thus, it gives me great pride to share my accomplishments, here and in the future, with my mentor. Thanks again Bob!

How did you stay inspired throughout the year? For me, education is a matter of social justice and community service. I stay motivated by thinking about children, of all shapes, sizes, colors, ability-levels, and geographical areas. I know that what I do here will help me to be a positive influence on the lives of children. I cannot think of a more important inspiration than children; the opportunity and ability to serve them well and thereby improve the future.

What advice do you have for next year's students going through your program? Hit the ground running and speak up for yourself and your ideas. The year is really only eight months, so there isn't a moment to lose. Whenever I've felt something lacking or missing from the school, I've gotten nothing but encouragement and support in trying to bring it here. Whatever the issue, the faculty, staff and teaching fellows have been fully supportive. My biggest piece of advice: speak up and be proactive.

If you could transport one person/place/thing from HGSE to your next destination, what would it be? If I could take anyone with me, it would be Shirley Greene from admissions. Shirley has been my guidance counselor this year; helping me navigate the terrain, suggesting people/places when I need resources, and alternating between a shoulder to cry on and a kick in the seat depending on the situation. Luckily, through the wonders of technology, I don't plan on ever losing Shirley. I plan to take her everywhere I go from here on.


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