Developing a Pedagogy of Care to Fight for Social Justice: Russell Castañeda Calleros, Ed.D. '18
As the Director of Government and Community Relations at Rio Hondo College, Dr. Russell Castañeda Calleros sees first-hand how critical it is for educational leaders to serve marginalized student populations, especially at the community college level. Since graduating in May of 2018, Russell has taken his passion for educational leadership for social justice to the next level by pursuing his dream of entering the professoriate. Having recently completed the Los Angeles Community College District's Project MATCH Summer Institute, a program designed to prepare educators for teaching within the community college context, Russell will be mentored by a master teacher this fall and plans to apply for a part-time teaching position at a local community college or four-year institution in the spring or summer of 2019.
"During my time as a doctoral student, I came into contact with amazing professors who were not only competent at instructing, but demonstrated genuine interest in the aspirations and hopes of their students," Russell said. "I, too, hope that I can craft a pedagogy of care in which I can help my students develop their skills and talents to become self-aware scholar-activists who serve those in need and fight for social justice."
A seasoned higher education professional, Russell was drawn to the Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice because he knew faculty within the program were interested in studying and practicing within the higher education context. In addition, the program's focus on leadership for social justice within schools and communities appealed to Russell on a personal level, and he was interested in studying at an institution which was rooted in the Jesuit, Marymount, and St. Joseph of Orange faith traditions as they aligned with his own personal belief systems.
"I enjoyed being able to bring my own leadership experiences and challenges to the classroom so that I could revisit them through a multi-colored prism of educational theories, best practices, and lessons learned," Russell said.
For Russell, the relationships he cultivated with his fellow cohort members and professors were the most valuable experiences of the Ed.D. program. By investing his time in getting to know his peers and instructors, he was able to learn about their unique personal and professional journeys, their critical crossroads, moments of courage, and difficult leadership decisions, and to imagine himself in their leadership scenarios.
"I believe that my Ed.D. experiences will not only help me redefine myself as a professor, but will also enable me to be a more informed elected official," Russell said. "I am currently serving my third term on the school board of the Whittier Union High School District and greatly benefitted from the opportunities I had in the program to learn from former and current school board members who were transparent about their motives for serving, leadership style, goals, and lessons learned."
Russell's dissertation, The Intersection of Ethnic Studies and Public Policy: A Study of California High School Board Members' Perspectives, chaired by internationally renowned Freirian scholar and Leavey Presidential Chair & Professor Antonia Darder, Ph.D., identified the perspectives of California high school board members toward Ethnic Studies curricula and the extent to which these perspectives informed public policy. Since his dissertation was published, Russell has been selected to be a "table talk presenter" to discuss his research findings at the California School Boards Association (CSBA) 2018 Annual Education Conference, and was also invited to co-author with CSBA a policy brief summarizing the findings of his research.
As a recent graduate, Russell advises prospective Ed.D. students to work diligently to establish strong relationships with fellow students from multiple cohorts, as these connections will prove instrumental in forming a personal and professional support system throughout the program and beyond.