Loyola University Maryland

Center for Innovation in Urban Education (CIUE)

Faculty Associates

ZisselsbergerMargarita Gomez, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Literacy Education
Loyola University Maryland
School of Education

Margarita Gomez earned her doctoral degree in Language, Learning, and Literacy from Boston College. Her research focuses on the language and literacy development of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners. Recent work with the CIUE as a faculty-in-residence has centered around supporting urban teachers to create bilingual and biliterate students through rigorous academic dual language programming. As part of this goal, ongoing professional development includes using assessment data to inform instruction, differentiating lessons, and writing in dual-language contexts.

Afra Ahmed Hersi, Ph.D.

Afra HersiAssociate Professor
Literacy Education Program
Loyola University Maryland

Afra Hersi received her doctorate in Language, Learning, and Literacy from Boston College, specializing in the intersectionality of race, language, and immigrant identity development.  Dr. Hersi’s scholarship and professional development work has focus on ways to support teacher and student resiliency. Her recent collaboration with urban school districts has centered on supporting teachers’ development of culturally and linguistically responsive practices. This work has emphasized the importance of incorporating students' cultural and linguistic resources into the literacy curriculum. 

Mark A. Lewis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Literacy Education
Loyola University Maryland
Twitter: @marklewislum

Mark Lewis earned his doctorate from University of Colorado at Boulder in Curriculum & Instruction – Literacy Studies. Prior to joining Loyola, he was a secondary English language arts teacher in Arizona and Colorado, and has been a continued advocate for linguistically diverse students throughout his career. For the CIUE, Mark led the team that brought to Loyola an event series focusing on the experiences of Latino Americans in the U.S. and Baltimore. 

Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D, NCC

Cheryl Moore Thomas

Professor of Counselor Education
Loyola University Maryland

Cheryl Moore-Thomas received her doctorate in Counselor Education from the University of Maryland, specializing in the racial identity development of adolescents. As a former teacher, school counselor, student services specialist, associate dean and current faculty member and scholar, Cheryl is committed to urban education.  She has published widely in the field and consults regularly with urban school districts on issues of racial identity, leadership, critical race theory, urban school counseling, and academic achievement of students of color.

SaalLeah Katherine Saal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Literacy Education Program
Teacher Education Department
4501 N. Charles Street
Beatty Hall- 121-5
Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Leah Katherine Saal is an Assistant Professor of Literacy. Dr. Saal is informed by her ongoing experiences teaching literacy skills to adults and older students in and out of school settings in urban communities. Her research agenda focuses on the intersectionality of literacy and social justice within community literacies. Currently, she is conducting engaged research with several community/adult learning centers as well as a job-retraining center for chronically unemployed adults in Baltimore City.

Kathleen A. Sears Sears

Teacher Mentor
Institute for Urban Catholic Education 
Loyola University Maryland
School of Education

After retiring from Baltimore County Public Schools where she served as English teacher, ESL instructor, English Department Chair, and high school assistant principal and master scheduler, Ms. Sears served as Professional Development School Coordinator in the School of Education.  She has taught Secondary Methods of Teaching, Methods of Teaching English, and Adolescent Literature. She has led professional development workshops in Classroom Management, Dealing with Difficult People, and Making Reading Enjoyable. Ms. Sears currently works as a teacher mentor as part of a faculty in residence model with two urban Catholic Schools for the CIUE.