Dr. Julissa Ventura, assistant professor of educational policy and leadership in Marquette University’s College of Education, has received a Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Academy of Education, the university announced in a press release Thursday.
Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowships are awarded to early-career scholars to focus on their research and attend professional development retreats. Ventura is one of only 25 recipients nationwide; she will use the award to work on her research project, “Moving Towards Transformative Student Voice in Community Schools.”
“As the community school model is adopted by more school districts questions arise about how community schools are enacting their mission to be a more democratic and community-centered education reform,” Ventura said in a statement. “One of the key community school strategies is shared leadership, which researchers have found is an important structure that contributes to improved academic outcomes in community schools. There has been limited research into identifying spaces for students to participate in the shared leadership process, so this study will look at creating spaces for students to make important contributions to community school structures and practices that work against inequalities in our schools.”
According to the press release, Ventura will conduct an ethnographic case study with schools in Milwaukee. She will explore shared leadership in relation to student voice and leadership. Specifically, the project examines how community schools can support youth in meaningfully contributing to the decision-making and transformational change in their schools. Previous studies have looked at community partners and families and this study aims to fill a gap by considering how community schools can create spaces for transformative student voice as part of the shared leadership at the K-5, K-8 and high school levels.
“This is an exciting research opportunity for Dr. Ventura and a well-deserved honor,” College of Education Dean Dr. Heidi Bostic said in a statement. “The heart of her research is in line with Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit mission to address inequality and support social justice. She will be working to address inequities in schools by giving students a voice in the shared governance process and empowering them in their learning process.”
The National Academy of Education advances high-quality research to improve education policy and practice. Founded in 1965, the NAEd consists of U.S. members and international associates who are elected based on scholarship related to education. The academy undertakes research studies to address pressing educational issues and administers professional development fellowship programs to enhance the preparation of the next generation of education scholars.