B.A., M.T., University of Virginia; Ed.D., Harvard University
Soo HongWhitehead Associate Professor of Critical Thought; Associate Professor of Education
Explores school-community relationships in K-12 urban schools with an emphasis on race, immigration, and culture.
I am a sociologist of education who studies the relationships between schools and families/communities, exploring the role of race, culture, social history, and political life. While we may typically view educational change through school-centered efforts, I explore the central role of families and communities in school transformation through models that emphasize parent leadership, community organizing and democratic forms of participation.
My recently published book, Natural Allies: Hope and Possibility in Teacher-Family Partnerships (Harvard Education Press, 2019) explores the experiences of five urban teachers who have found innovative and authentic ways to engage their students' families and communities. The book features discussions of culture and community, the deep-rooted histories of the teacher-parent relationship and the necessity of confronting racism, distrust, and misunderstanding when partnership and collaboration is the goal.
My 2011 book, A Cord of Three Strands: A New Approach to Family Engagement in Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2011) explored the role of community organizing efforts to transform public education in Chicago and demonstrates how these participatory models can reframe our conceptualization of parent engagement in schools.
At Wellesley, I teach courses on education policy and youth/family studies, capstone seminars on urban education and immigration as well as a first-year seminar on race and education. Across all my courses, students learn how to analyze and conduct research. I have a special affinity for engaging in conversations about research methodologies, so that has become a key part of my courses, especially at the capstone level. Given our close proximity to Boston and a guiding belief that the community is our most valuable classroom, my students often gain valuable experiences in schools and community agencies as part of their course learning. I am a former elementary and middle school teacher; that experience guides my commitment to action-oriented research.
I feel fortunate to enjoy both the vibrant life of the city as a Boston resident as well as the beauty of this campus everyday. I enjoy listening to audiobooks and taking walks around Lake Waban. I'm a rabid basketball fan who follows the NBA as a Celtics fan and the world of youth basketball as mother to two impressive point guards.