Meet new faculty: Eliza Allen, education

Name: Eliza Allen

College/department: Department of instruction and teacher education, College of Education

Title: Assistant professor of elementary education

Degrees: Ph.D., Teaching and Learning, Language and Literacy, Georgia State University;

M.S., Child and Family Studies, University of Tennessee; B.S. Early Childhood Education, Mercer University

Hometown: Savannah, Ga.

What’s your area of study or research? 

Critical language and literacy practices of culturally and linguistically diverse young children, family literacy and digital literacy practices

 Why did you choose Carolina?

I chose Carolina because of its excellent reputation in research, teaching and scholarship. The university is committed to quality research initiatives but equally committed to quality teaching. South Carolina has a reputation of developing partnerships with K-12 schools to ensure that pre-service teachers are fully engaged to meet the needs of the diverse communities present in schools today.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to setting the course of my research agenda and working with pre-service teachers in schools.

What are you most looking forward to about being at UofSC? In Columbia? Or in South Carolina?

At USC, I am most looking forward to getting to know students and faculty. I am a Volunteer fan because of schooling, but I am sure that orange will change to garnet in no time after a few games. In Columbia, I look forward to visiting some outdoor recreational areas, museums and hitting the music scene. My family and I love music so we are excited about seeing what Columbia and the surrounding cities have to offer.

How did you become interested in your work?

In my role as a classroom teacher, I was afforded the opportunity to work closely with children and parents of racially, linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds in different capacities. I became aware of the necessity to design instruction in ways to encourage critical thinking and engage learners in democratic and multi-literate practices. In understanding the necessity to expose children to equitable educational opportunities, my teaching and research at the collegiate level has focused on ways to help children become active agents in their education through the use multiple forms of media and discussion formats.

What made you decide to go into academia?

As an undergraduate at Mercer University, I decided one summer to participate in the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The program allowed me to work with a faculty mentor to conduct research, take GRE preparation courses, and get acquainted with graduate work. It also prepared me for prepping for conferences and disseminating research. After attending McNair during the summer of 2004, I decided to go directly to graduate work full time.

What’s a talent you have or something that you’ve done that people might find surprising?

I traveled to London and Paris for a solo trip last summer. I also love to whitewater-raft.  

What do you hope to accomplish over the next five years?

I hope to conduct research that will meet the needs of diverse children. Additionally, I hope to garner a relationship with the surrounding schools and community to continue to facilitate opportunities to discuss difficult topics around race, equity and social justice issues with our children. I hope that both my research and teaching becomes valuable to Columbia and the state of South Carolina.

What was your dissertation?

My dissertation, titled “Up Close and Personal: Latino/a Immigrant Children Making Sense of Immigration and Developing Agency Through Critical Multicultural Literature and Online Discussions in a Third Grade Classroom,” addresses the ways in which young children make sense of texts and discussions focused on immigration. My study examined how reading and discussing critical multicultural texts and participating in computer–mediated discourse communities (e.g., blogs) facilitated children’s meaning-making of important social issues, such as immigration.

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