Educator | Designer | Playologist

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I often wonder how one’s relationship with/to/from/in/between spatial dimensions of place shapes one’s identity. As a result, I am interested in cultivating learning spaces where one’s rich historical and cultural narrative can be fostered, preserved, and sustained through socially just transformative paradigms and play-based pedagogies.

Education

Ph.D. Educational and Community-based

Action Research

Candidate, ABD

University of Cincinnati

2020, expected

 

M.A. Educational Studies for Social Change

University of Cincinnati

2016

B.A. Political Science

Minor: African Linguistics

Indiana University

2011

 

Undergraduate Study Abroad

Saïd Business School

University of Oxford

2010

Teaching & Educational Leadership

I began my career in kindergarten-fifth grade special education and preschool classrooms before moving toward teacher education and professional development where I support pre-service and in-service teachers in their praxis and practitioner development.

Jarson Educational Center

Adath Israel Congregation

Second Grade Teacher

Cincinnati, OH

August 2018 - present

 

Mandel Teacher Educator Institute

Teacher Education Design-Based Thinking and Playful Learning Educator

Support professional development workshops on design-based thinking and playful learning with the direction of Dr. Jeff Stanzler and Dr. Miriam Raider-Roth 

May 2017 - Present

 

University of Cincinnati

Teacher Assistant to Dr. Miriam Raider-Roth

Cincinnati, OH

June 2016 - 2019

Teacher Research Certification - Mandel Teacher Educator Institute & University of Cincinnati 

(blended learning)

EDST7043 (Graduate) Practitioner Action Research I (blended learning)

EDST7053 (Graduate) Practitioner Action Research II

(in-person)

EDST7040 (Graduate) Relational Cultural Theory

(in-person)

Adjunct Professor

Cincinnati, OH

June 2016 - August 2017

MDL3001 (Undergraduate) Middle Childhood Social Studies Certificate

(online)

Graduate Teaching Assistantship

Cincinnati, Ohio

August 2014 - August 2016

EDST1001 (Undergraduate) Introduction to Education

(in-person)

Breakthrough Cincinnati

Summer Site Director

Cincinnati, OH

May 2017 - August 2017

Instructional Coach

Cincinnati, OH

June 2016 - August 2017

 

Arlitt Child & Family Research & Education Center

Early Childhood Associate Teacher

Cincinnati, Ohio

June 2014 - August 2016

 

Aliza Begin Primary School

Fourth Grade Summer English Instructor

Schusterman Family Foundation and Israeli Ministry of Education Initiative

Migdal HaEmek, Israel

June 2014 - August 2014

 

Dawson Elementary School

Elementary Special Education Teacher

Scotland Neck, North Carolina

August 2011 - August 2013

Related Teaching Leadership Positions & Initiatives

  • Exceptional Children’s Elementary Chairperson for the Southeast District, 2011-2013

  • Transition Team Leader for Teach For America, 2012

  • Special Olympics Assistant Coordinator for Halifax County Public Schools, 2012

  • Member of Teach For America’s Corps Member On-boarding Task Force, 2012

  • President of Halifax County’s Autism Problem-Solving Team, 2012

  • Creator of IEP Goal Progress Monitor utilized by Halifax County's Exceptional Children’s Department, 2012

  • Creator of Skype In the Classroom: Global Awareness Initiative at Dawson Elementary School, 2012

  • Founder of Dawson Elementary School’s Global Awareness for Student’s Advancement in International Studies Committee, 2012

  • Creator and Team Leader of Dawson Elementary School’s Beautification Project, 2012

  • Coordinator of Sustainable School Gardens Project at Dawson Elementary School, 2012

  • Coordinator and Artist of Read into Art: A Mural Art Project at Dawson Elementary School, 2012

Curriculum & Evaluation

Rooted in values of love, empathy, and social justice, I seek to develop curriculum and evaluation systems that are transformational in theory, practice, and leadership.

CPS Strong: Cincinnati Public Schools

Evaluation Toolkit Developer

April 2019 - Present

 

Breakthrough Collaborative (National)

Writing and Literature Curriculum and Assessment Consultant

January 2019 - Present

 

Digital Playscape

STEAM & STEM Curriculum Designer

May 2018 - Present

Breakthrough Cincinnati

Curriculum and Evaluation Director

breakthroughcincinnati.org 

August 2017 - Present

 

Next Lives Here

Assessment and Evaluation STEM Consultant

National Science Foundation INCLUDES Award

November 2017 - Present

 

Jarson Educational Center

Project-based Learning Curriculum Consultant

August 2017 - Present

 

GE Aviation Educational Outreach  

Project-Based Learning STEM

Curriculum Consultant

May 2016 - May 2018

 

Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative Middle School Multidisciplinary STEM Curriculum Consultant

May 2016 - May 2017

 

University of Cincinnati’s High School Scholars Academy

Education Technology Curriculum Consultant

May 2016 - May 2017

University of Cincinnati’s Undergraduate Educational Studies Program

Instructional Designer

May 2015 - August 2017

Design

As a designer and playologist, I support individuals, parents, teachers, leaders, and organizations to harness the power of play by designing aesthetically attuned playscapes. Spaces that spark JOY, WONDER, and PLAY.

Playful Learning Design Consultant

Interior design + Relational design

Cincinnati, OH

 2014 - present

Contemporary Arts Center

UnMuseum Spatial Play and Learning Design Consultant

Cincinnati, OH

2019 - present

Digital Playscape

Playologist and Designer 

Cincinnati, OH

2019

Research & Grants

I am drawn to critical methodologies, performative auto/ethnography, and mixed methods action research to explore the following areas: homeplace and homemaking as places for identity development; growth-fostering relationships within learning communities; and culturally sustainable pedagogies of place. 

 

Mandel Teacher Educator Institute

Graduate Research Assistant

August 2017 - present

 

 

Internal

Study to Assess Impact of Computational Thinking for Adolescents Attending Out-Of-School-Time STEAM Programming

Grant Writer, Curriculum Designer, & Evaluator

University of Cincinnati CECH Technology and Instructional Design Grant

Awarded $1,900

February 2019 - present

Breakthrough Cincinnati is a TRIIIBE!: Educational technology to support high schoolers in sharing their voice with community stakeholders

Grant Writer, Curriculum Designer, & Evaluator

University of Cincinnati CECH Technology and Instructional Design Grant

Awarded $2,000

February 2018 - August 2018

I/Voice: Curriculum Design Using Virtual Reality to Create Social Change with Middle School Students

Grant Writer, Principal Investigator, & Curriculum Designer

University of Cincinnati CECH Technology and Instructional Grant

Awarded $2,000

February 2018 - August 2018

 

“Black Lives Matter”: Participatory Curriculum Design Using Youth Participatory Action Research Project to Address Gun Violence

Co-researcher & Curriculum Designer

June 2016 to September 2016

 

Systemic Action Research for School Change: A Collaborative Action Research Partnership

with Parents, Students, and Teachers to Design Multidisciplinary STEM Curriculum

Teacher Action Research Facilitator & Curriculum Designer

University of Cincinnati CECH Community Relations Grant Program

Directors of Research, Dr. Brydon-Miller 

Awarded $8,000

October 2015 to March 2016

 

Using Big Data to Track Arlitt Student Kindergarten Success                                                 

Research Assistant & Grant Writer

Arlitt Best Practices in Teaching Research Grant

Principal Investigators, Dr. Maltbie and Dr. Lee

Awarded $3,000

September 2014 to May 2016

 

Capturing the Food Environment of Low-Income Mothers

Photovoice Co-Facilitator & Research Assistant

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Grant

Principal Investigator, Dr. Vaughn

Awarded $13,000 

November 2015 to January 2016

 

Photovoice with Preschoolers: A Teacher Action Research Project

Action Researcher & Grant Writer

University of Cincinnati CECH Technology and Instructional Design Grant

Principal Investigators, Dr. Maltbie and Dr. Carr

Awarded $2,000

August 2015 to May 2016​

Exclusion within Inclusion: The Social Experiences of Preschool Children with IEPs in an Inclusive Preschool

Principal Investigator & Grant Writer

Arlitt Best Practices in Teaching Research Grant

Awarded $1,800​​ 

October 2014 - May 2015​

 

External

Studying the Learning Trajectories of Jewish Educators Enrolled in a Two-Year Professional Development Program: An Action Research Study

Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Miriam Raider-Roth

October 2019 - present

Portraits of Pre-Service Teachers and their Experience with Co-Creating Holding Environments in a Summer Academic Enrichment Program

Principal Investigator

May 2019 - present

Digital Playscape: STEAM Center for Social Impact and Community Outreach in the Greater Cincinnati Area

Grant Writer, Co-Director, Curriculum Designer, & Evaluator

People’s Liberty Globe Grant

Awarded $15,000

November 2018 - August 2019

Public Health Disparities Impacting Youth in Cincinnati

Youth Participatory Action Research Methodologist

National Institute of Health’s Science Education Partnership Award

Trained Youth to be Community Change Researchers

May 2018 - December 2018

Outside In: Incorporating Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to Teach 6th Grade Ohio State Standards Using an Integrated STEAM Curriculum

Grant Writer & Curriculum Designer

The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative

Awarded $4,000

2018 to present

Redesigning Shade Structures: Collaboration with Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens to Teach 7th Grade Ohio State Standards Using an Integrated STEAM Curriculum

Grant Writer & Curriculum Designer

The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative

Awarded $3,800

Pi in the Sky: Coding Raspberry Pi Computers to Teach 7th Grade Ohio State Standards Using an Integrated STEAM Curriculum

Grant Writer & Curriculum Designer

The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative

Awarded $4,000 

Publications

Lester, A.L. & Mishkin, S. (2019) Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Mandel Teacher Educators Go to School. EJewish Philanthropy.

Arthur, B., Boehr, C., Carlson, S, Deters, A., Lester, A.J., Raider-Roth, M., Theurer, P., & Tyler, S. (2019, accepted). "Relational Mentoring and the Centrality of Self-care," in Mentoring in Higher Education: Case Studies of Peer Learning and Pedagogical Development, Woolhouse, C. & Nicholson, L. (Eds.), Palgrave Macmillan: United Kingdom

Wight, A., Lester, A., & Shannon-Baker, P. (2019, in review). Poetry as Truth: DeSchooling the USA, AERA, & Ivan Illich SIG. International Journal of Illich Studies.

Presentations

International

 

Poetry as Truth - DeSchooling the USA, AERA, & Ivan Illich

Wight, R. A., Lester, A.J., Shannon-Baker, P., & Jorgenson, S.

American Educational Association Annual Meeting

Toronto, Canada

2019

Spelunking with Plato: On Grottos, Grog, and Great Media Issues

Spence, E., Lester, P.M., Elliott, D., Black, J., Brislin, T., & Lester, A.J.  

A Night of Ethics

Sydney, Australia

2002

 

National

Using Group-Level Assessment to Amplify Student Voice in a Summer Academic Enrichment Program for Adolescents

Lester, A.J.

American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting

New York City, NY

2018

Action Research Next Level: Mixed Methods Mayhem: Teacher AR Creation: Poetry Performance Pedagogical Praxis

Wight, R.A., Lester, A.J., & Shannon-Baker, P.

American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting 

New York City, NY

2018

 

Eco-Poetry as Performative, Practice, Pedagogy, and Praxis: New Metho-Theoretical-Propositions and the Surging Hedonisticon Xn

Lester, A.J., Wight, R.A., & Shannon-Baker, P. American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting 

San Antonio, TX

2016

 

Photovoice in Focus: Preschoolers with (dis)Abilities as Co-Researchers

Lester, A.J.

American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting 

San Antonio, TX

2016

 

Through the Lens of Teacher Research: Digital Photography in a Preschool Classroom

Lester, A.J. 

American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting

San Antonio, TX

2016

 

DeSchool the ICQI: Poetry for Action

Lester, A.J. & Wight, R.A.

International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 

Champaign-Urbana, IL

2016

 

Preschoolers as Co-researchers & The Participatory Action Research Ethics

Lester, A.J.

Associated for Practical and Professional Ethics Annual Meeting

Washington, DC

2016

 

The Social Experiences of Early Childhood Children with IEPs: Supporting Inclusivity, Digital Tools

Lester, A.J.

International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 

Champaign-Urbana, IL

2015

 

The Ethics of Photovoice with Young Children: A Roundtable Discussion 

Lester, A.J.

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Annual Meeting

Costa Mesa, CA

2015

 

The Ethical Dilemmas Embedded in National Service Programs: A Case Study of Teach(ing) For America 

Lester, A.J.

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Annual Meeting

Jacksonville, FL

2014

 

Regional

 

Re-imagining New Worlds: The Future of Digital Art

Lester, A.J.

Contemporary Arts Center

Cincinnati, OH

2019

See(n) & Hear(d): Sharing stories of access & equity for people with (dis)abilities

Lester, A.J.

Art Exhibit

The Space Cabin

Cincinnati, OH

2018

 

Teacher Inquiry: Understanding Exclusion within Inclusion for Children with IEPs 

Lester, A.J. & Horowitz, J.

4C for Children: Annual Conference 

Cincinnati, OH

2015

 

What am I not seeing?: Supporting Peer Inclusion for Young Children with (Dis)Abilities through Teacher Inquiry and Photovoice

Lester, A.J. & Horowitz, J.

Arlitt Research Symposium

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH

2015

 

Teacher Action Research: Photovoice with Preschoolers

Lester, A.J. & Horowitz, J.

Action Research Center Research Symposium

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH

2015

 

Exclusion within Inclusion: A Teacher Inquiry Case Study Using Mixed Method Research and Participatory Photo Inquiry

Lester, A.J. & Horowitz, J.

Student Research Conference

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY

2015

 

Photovoice with Young Children: A Teacher Action Research Case Study

Lester, A.J. & Horowitz, J.

Practitioner Research Showcase

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH

2015

 

The Social Experiences of Early Childhood for Children with IEPs: Supporting Inclusivity 

Lester, A.J. & Horowitz, J.

Diversity Day Conference

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH

2015​

In Media

STE(A)M Educator Allison Lester On Creating Space for Learning

The Distiller Podcast. Episode 42.

2019

Service

Institutional Service

Journal of Educational Action Research Reviewer

May 2014 - present

 

Journal of American Educational Research Association

Reviewer

January 2014 - present

 

Journal of Special Education and Remedial Education

Reviewer

May 2016 - present

 

University Service

Student Organization for Action Research

Co-Founder and President

2015 to present

Graduate Association for Teacher Assistants 

Member

2014 to present

Community Service

Red Cross of Cincinnati

Volunteer

2014-2016

United Way of Cincinnati

Volunteer

2014-2016

Fair Trade Global Gifts

Volunteer Coordinator

2008-2011

Positive Link

HIV/AIDS Adolescent Educational Coordinator

2007-2009

Board Memberships

Havayah Board of Directors

2019-present

 

Journal of International Action Research (Editorial)

2016-2018

 

Bloomington Fair Trade Board

2008-2011

 

Professional Associations

Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA)

American Educational Research Association (Divisions C & K)

National Association for the Education of Young Children (Ohio AEYC, Cincinnati AEYC)

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE)

Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE)

( 09 )

Additional Work Experience

Office for Social Innovation and Community Partnership

University of Cincinnati

Action Research Consultant

Cincinnati, OH

August 2016 - present

Teach For America

Admissions Selector 

August 2014 - 2016

 

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics

Research Assistant

Bloomington, Indiana

August 2013 - August 2014

 

Center for the Study of Global Change

Indiana University

Fund Developer & KiSwahili Translator

Bloomington, Indiana

August 2010 to May 2011

Awards & Fellowships

  • Teacher of the Year Award, Jarson Education Center, 2019

  • University of Cincinnati’s Master’s of Educational Studies Outstanding Student Award, 2016

  • University of Cincinnati’s Excellence in Teaching Award, nominee, 2016

  • Teach For America’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, nominee, 2015 & 2016

  • Teach For America’s National Sue Lehmann Award for Excellence in Teaching, nominee, 2013

  • City of Bloomington’s Volunteer of the Year Award, 2010 and 2011

  • Senator William G. Bray Memorial Most Promising Undergraduate Scholar Award, 2010

  • City of Bloomington’s Heart and Hand Award, 2007

© 2017 By Allison JoAnn Lester