If Terri-Nicole Singleton, Ed.M.'09, could change one thing about education, she would make sure that every policymaker, elected official, administrator, or really anyone who makes decisions for children worked at least three years in a diverse, cross-section of classrooms. Singleton enrolled in the Technology, Innovation, and Education Program (TIE) because of her interest in race and achievement and to learn how technology might play a role in closing the achievement gap.
"Terri-Nicole astonishes and inspires TIE students and faculty alike with her ability to do so much so well, while remaining a friendly and gracious person. She brings the wisdom and savvy of an experienced teacher to class discussions, in which she is always upbeat and on point," says Lecturer Joe Blatt, TIE director. "Classmates rave about Terri-Nicole's infectious enthusiasm and her contributions to group work. Beyond academics, she is a leader in student government, a lively friend and encouraging mentor, and somehow, amazingly, also a proud single mother. I think Terri-Nicole has learned a lot from her year at HGSE, but I know we have all learned a great deal from her, about what is possible and what is important in graduate study."
Singleton leaves the Ed School feeling that her learning has come "full circle." "I am more informed, capable and connected to the people and places that are working to leverage new media to promote equality and opportunity for all," she says. Upon learning that she had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for the TIE Program, Singleton answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and beyond.
What was your favorite class and why?
My learning style dictates that I must have hands on, practical experience to complement the theoretical concepts that I am learning. For this reason, [Lecturer] Karen Mapp's The Why, What, and How of School, Family, and Community Partnerships was a superb learning experience. Her ability to create an inclusive in class community through dialogue, group work, and role play; provide field work and reflection of how theory and practice inform one another; and bring in expert practitioners and researchers to deepen our understanding of the field were exemplary and really made the learning stick for me. In fact, it became a foundation upon which much of my subsequent learning was built.
What are your post-HGSE plans?
Across several classes, I have been working to develop an academic social networking project for urban teens, centered in a video-making curriculum. I will align myself with an organization to incubate it and conduct a demonstration project to maximize its effectiveness. Through this project, teens will be active participants in creating a new, pro-learning social norm amongst urban youth.
What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?
As much as I've learned through my formal classes, some of my best lessons were gleaned from my fellow students. One of my classmates expressed this to me: "Don't think about doing it — just do it!" He was referring to the tendency for intellectualizing and overprocessing a plan of action and getting too comfortable with the planning stage. Paralysis can set in while waiting for circumstances to become ideal. Only in the execution of a thing can we learn what must be done and that only if we're open to making and learning from our mistakes along the way.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year?
I'm one of the HGSE students fortunate enough to be a mother as well as a student and educator. Setting an example for my 10-year-old son has been motivating. Now he's planning on attending Harvard Business School to build a skateboarding empire someday. Move over Tony Hawk!
Any special study spots on campus (or off)?
All nighters at Lamont Library with a cafe that closes at 2:00 a.m. when necessary. Library hop to meet interesting people and find hidden treasures.
What advice do you have for next year's students going through your program?
Take advantage of the vast resources while you are here. The Media Lab and its staff are incredible resources. Take risks, get outside your comfort zone and don't be afraid to make mistakes if you want to make this experience truly worthwhile. Try starting a club or join the student government. Find ways to serve others and don't forget to make a social life regularly.
2009 Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipients
Suzannah Holsenbeck, TEP
Elisha Brookover, L&L'09
Mangala Nanda, IEP'09
Andrew Cabot, SS'09
Nancy Schoolcraft, MBE'09
Joe Baker, EPM'09
Kathy Yang, L&T'09
Angelica Brisk, AIE'09
Melissa Mayes, R&P'09
Jerome "Jay" Green, HDP'09
Ashton Wheeler Clemmons, SLP'09
Terri-Nicole Singleton, TIE'09
Emily Almas, HE'09