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HGSE Celebrates Orientation 2019

Welcoming students to campus for faculty talks and cohort gatherings.
Welcome to HGSE

Photo by Jill Anderson

On a crisp morning in August, 683 new students gathered under a tent in Radcliffe Yard and began to discover a shared passion for education with their classmates.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education welcomed an incoming cohort that includes 626 Ed.M. students, 25 Ph.D. students, 25 Ed.L.D. students, and seven students pursuing a Certificate in Advanced Study. Fifty-two different countries are represented in the cohort, including New Zealand, Cuba, Iceland, and Ghana.   

Dean Bridget Terry Long began her address to new students by acknowledging the land upon which this campus is built as the ancestral home of indigenous peoples, as well as the role of enslaved people in building its structures. Acknowledging the history, said Long, is a small step toward a culture of respect and accountability. She then greeted HGSE’s centennial class, recognizing their diversity and their place in the history of the college, assuring them they belong here.

“You bring to Appian Way an astonishing array of experiences, perspectives, and accomplishments. But no matter where you’re from and what you’ve come here to do, we are delighted that you’re here,” she said.

Long then offered students advice and her hope for their intellectual and personal journeys for the upcoming year, exhorting them to:

  • Go from a crowd to a community — make connections, have difficult conversations, and support one another.
  • Remember why you came here. Remember who isn’t here.
  • Take time to explore.

Above all, Long encouraged students to take advantage of their time at HGSE, to find their passion, and to further their purpose. “Use this time to empower yourself and your colleagues to do good in the world, whether that be through practice, research, entrepreneurship, or some other kind of service,” she said.

Following the opening remarks, Associate Dean of Enrollment Maritza Hernandez spoke and, with the help of mirrors placed on chairs in the audience, reminded students to “pause and reflect” throughout their time at HGSE.

Lecturer Joe McIntyre, Ed.M.’10, Ed.D.’17, recipient of the 2019 Morningstar Family Teaching Award, recalled his own sense of discomfort in his first days as a Harvard student and advised the new class to make peace with any feelings of unease they may face during the year in order to immerse themselves in learning experiences. “If you don’t feel like you belong, then you’re less likely to take the risks you need in order to grow,” he said.

Next came the school’s signature faculty "8x8" talks: eight faculty members presenting striking findings and revelations they’ve encountered in their work in eight minutes each.

This year’s speakers and topics:

  • Associate Professor Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell — The Limits and Possibilities of Radical Change in School Organizations
  • Associate Professor Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Ed.D.’09 — The Boxes of Belonging: Refugees, Education, and our Collective Future
  • Professor Paul Reville — Can Education Restore Social Mobility?
  • Senior Lecturer Kathryn Boudett — 3 Habits of Mind for Continuous Improvement
  • Professor Adriana Umana-Taylor — Bringing Ethnic-Racial Identity into our Schools: Why, When, and How?
  • Assistant Professor Jarvis Givens — (Under)Common Schools: The Origins of African American Education
  • Professor Meredith Rowe, Ed.M.’99, Ed.D.’03 — How the Early Home Environment Shapes Child Language Development
  • Lecturer Christina Villarreal, Ed.M.’05 — Who We Are & How We Do: Toward a Relational Pedagogy of Promise & Possibility

Later in the day, students explored critical topics in education and learned about innovative research undertakings. They chose from a variety of sessions designed to spark their curiosity and give them a chance to sample the learning opportunities that the upcoming school year will bring.

Cohorts and degree programs started welcoming students last week and will continue to do so in the week ahead. Orientations were also held for students of color and international students.

Sights from Orientation 2019:

Photos by Jill Anderson and Elio Pajares