Little did I know more than 40 years ago when I started as a Reading Teacher at a high school in L.A. County working with students who were poor readers and hated school that I would spend the majority of my educational career dealing with all kinds of initiatives involved in dropout prevention and school change. I was involved with the Career Education movement in the 1970s and 1980s, the experiential education movement in higher ed/k-12 as Director of Field Studies at UCLA (and as a board member for the National Society for Internships and Experiential Education), and later as Director of the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse at the University of Minnesota.
Professionally, I am currently a Research Associate/Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota where I have taught courses on service-learning, experiential education, vocational and technical education, curriculum, and participatory evaluation. I am currently serving as the lead internal evaluator for the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education at the University of Louisville, have conducted more than 30 research studies on various topics, from service-learning and national service, to intergenerational programs, civic engagement initiatives, career and technical education, and youth led evaluation. I have published several books and more than 50 book chapters, articles, and monographs on a multitude of topics.
Almost all of my work has centered on two themes: student engagement and community connected learning. Overall, these are two of the most important topics related to dropout prevention and student retention in school and college. So, after all these years, I’m still working in the same issues I did when I began: making learning interesting, exciting, and meaningful for both students and the larger society.
My interest as a Fellow is to develop programs and national initiatives that connect all of my areas of interest: service-learning, career and technical education, and civic engagement. I hope to develop funding and relationships for the NDPC so that all the groups that need to be connected for student engagement and retention can combine to develop effective models of K-12/college/community collaborations that make education work for everyone.