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Bettering Education: Lindsey Swartz, MBE'17

Lindsey SwartzWhen Lindsey Swartz enrolled in the Ed School’s Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) Program, she did so with an eye toward using the science of how trauma affects brain development to inform education policy. But as the year went on, she realized that education policy as a career path was really not for her.

“This year was eye opening and I realized that what I really want to do is work at the district level to develop teachers in schools with high trauma populations,” says Swartz, who will be returning to teaching after graduation. “I eventually hope to move into a leadership role and dedicate my life to bettering education for some of our most vulnerable children in northeast Ohio.”

Teaching third grade at a Breakthrough Schools charter school in Cleveland is the first step toward that goal. The position at a school with a strong coaching is, she hopes, the chance not only to enhance her teaching, but also to develop her coaching and leadership skills.

Swartz's contributions at HGSE will br recognized at Convocation on May 24, when she is presented with the Intellectual Contribution Award for the MBE Program.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed having Lindsey in the Mind, Brain, and Education Program,” says Lecturer Todd Rose, faculty director of MBE. “She has an admirable combination of intellect, curiosity, and humility and has made significant contributions to conversations inside and outside of class all year. It is my privilege to honor her contributions.”

Here, Swartz discusses her time at the Ed School and how it has shaped her future in education.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education? I learned that there is no simple solution and very few right answers. More importantly, I learned about digging for the right questions as well.

Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School? [Adjunct Lecturer] Rick Hess during his J-term Debating Education Policy course. First, he helped me realize that policy was not the right fit for me. But secondly, he taught us that in order to have any impact in anything you hope to do, you first must understand that which you are trying to change. This is something that I will take me both professionally and personally. Taking the time to thoroughly and genuinely look at all sides of an issue, including motivations, alliances, and deeply held convictions of those involved is crucial in any endeavor.

What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program? I have two pieces of advice: Attend as many talks and events as you can. The classes themselves are great but I also got so much out of the special presentations and Askwith Forums. Oftentimes, they bring in very experienced people who are out on the ground doing the work and it is great to see that perspective.

I would also advise students to find a couple people who challenge you, even in small ways. It can be hard sometimes to find disagreement but that is when some of the most productive and enlightening conversations have happened for me. Deliberately push your thinking and your comfort zone.

How did you stay inspired throughout the year? I stayed inspired in two ways. The first was always remembering the reason I came. That means going back and visiting former students, staying in contact with my old school district, or rereading my statement of purpose. It’s really easy to come here and get swept away by all the opportunities and new information so for me it was important that I always kept the kids that inspired me to apply in the first place at the forefront of everything. Secondly, it was conversations with my fellow students. Almost everyone is up to debate or discuss issues and ideas at any given time. Being surrounded by that energy and passion, it’s not hard to stay inspired.

Read about the other recipients of this year's Intellectual Contribution Award.