Loyola University Maryland

Center for Innovation in Urban Education (CIUE)

Responding to the Call for Educational Justice: Catholic-Led Initiatives in Urban Education

Faculty Speaker Series

The Center for Innovation in Urban Education (CIUE) is hosting a speaker series featuring faculty research. The series aims to build community through intimate gatherings that promote dialogue and foster shared learning. Undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, faculty, administration, and citizens of the greater Baltimore City area who have a stake in our work are invited to attend and engage in conversation.

In addition to the important and effective diocesan K-12 schools that serve urban students placed at risk are a number of special schools and education programs developed and operated by Catholic religious communities to provide a high-quality education for many more of those left behind throughout the world. Panelists will discuss a number of these initiatives that are featured in a new edited book. From NativityMiguel and Cristo Rey schools to Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles and Fe y Alegría schools throughout Central and South America, founded on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and Liberation Theology, these unique programs are giving tens of thousands of formerly underserved children, adolescents, and adults a chance to break away from poverty and oppression and become informed and successful citizens and agents of change. Come take part in the discussion and discover what Catholic educational leaders have taught us about effective urban education for students placed at risk.

Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Location: Loyola University Maryland Baltimore Evergreen Campus, Andrew White Student Center, McGuire Hall West
Lecture Time: 6-7:45 p.m. – Doors open at 5:45 p.m.
Pre-Event Reception: McGuire Atrium, 5:30-6 p.m.

Learn more about the speakers:


L. Mickey Fenzel, Ph.D. Professor and Chair of the Pastoral Counseling Department at Loyola University Maryland

Mickey Fenzel

Leo Mickey Fenzel, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of the Pastoral Counseling Department at Loyola University Maryland. He received his B.S. in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering, M.B.A., and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University Maryland. A faculty member at Loyola since 1989, Dr. Fenzel has also served as Chair of Teacher Education, Associate Dean, and Interim Dean of Loyola’s School of Education, as well as an assistant and associate professor in the Psychology Department. Prior to coming to Loyola, Dr. Fenzel served as assistant professor of teacher education at San Diego State University, visiting assistant professor of psychology at SUNY Geneseo, and secondary mathematics teacher and athletic coach in New York State and Maryland. His first book, Improving urban middle schools: Lessons from the Nativity schools, won a 2010 Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award. His second book, a co-edited volume, Responding to the call for educational justice: Transformative Catholic-led initiatives in urban education, was published in 2018. He has also published 25 journal articles and 13 book chapters and has presented numerous papers at national and international research conferences. His most recent work has focused on successful urban middle schools for historically underserved students.

For more information on Dr. L. Mickey Fenzel, visit his faculty website. 

Robert J. Helfenbein, Ph.D. – Professor and Associate Dean, School of Education at Loyola University Maryland

Robert Helfenbein


Robert Helfenbein is Associate Dean of the School of Education at Loyola University Maryland. He has published numerous pieces about contemporary education theory in journals such as Curriculum Inquiry, the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Educational Studies, The Urban Review, and co-edited the books Unsettling Beliefs: Teaching Theory to Teachers (2008), Ethics and International Curriculum Work: The Challenges of Culture and Context (2012), and Deterritorializing/Reterritorializing: Critical Geographies of Education Reform (2017). He is currently serving as Editor of the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing and current research interests include curriculum theorizing in urban contexts, cultural studies of education, and the impact of policing on communities and the lived experience of schools.

For more information on Dr. Robert Helfenbein, visit his faculty website. 

Peter R. Litchka, Ed.D. – Professor and Director of the Educational Leadership Program, Education Specialties Department at Loyola University Maryland

Peter Litchka

Dr. Peter Litchka is professor of educational leadership and Director of the Educational Leadership Program at Loyola University Maryland. He has been a professional educator since 1972 and during that time, he has been a high school social studies teacher and department chair, school administrator, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and a superintendent of schools for two school districts.

Dr. Litchka is the author/co-author of four books as well as numerous scholarly publications and presentations. His scholarly work includes completing research in Cyprus, Israel, Poland, and Turkey. Dr. Litchka is currently the President of the International Society for Educational Planning. Dr. Litchka has also provided leadership training and strategic planning support for local public school districts and the Archdiocesan Schools of Baltimore.

For more information on Dr. Peter Litchka, visit his faculty website. 

Principal Walter Reap – Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Baltimore MD

Walter has been involved in education for over 20 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania where he competed on the Men’s basketball team. He later earned a Master’s of Arts in Administration and Supervision from Bowie State University. He is currently engaged in doctoral research focusing on curriculum instruction and assessment that will improve social outcomes in urban communities.

Walter taught grades 2 – 5, served as a Teacher and Math Specialist on the eastern shore of Maryland. He subsequently became the assistant principal of Kent County High School in Wharton, Maryland. He then became the assistant principal at Germantown Elementary a Title I School in Annapolis, Maryland. He later became principal at Germantown Elementary School where he facilitated the school’s transition as the first International Baccalaureate Primary Year’s Programme in Anne Arundel County. He received the Washington Post Educational Leader Award for his work transforming urban schools.

During his tenure as elementary principal, he has opened two brand new urban elementary schools. As principal at Edward Felegy Elementary School in Hyattsville, Maryland, the school implemented an Integrated Arts school-wide program on a multi-million dollar complex where academic achievement improved for African-American and Latino students. He believes signature programs provide access to academic opportunities for underserved populations where traditional model schools have fallen short. As principal of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, he works to ensure the fidelity implementation of an innovative instructional model provides a transformational experience for Baltimore City students. His work in urban school leadership has formed many aspects of his educational and professional development.

Walter has been involved in many professional and civic organizations, including past president of the Queen Anne’s County NAACP, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and locally Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated.

Walter believes that closing the academic achievement gap requires strategic leadership. He believes creating a collaborative school culture where partnerships with local communities to ensure cura personalis is woven into the fabric of daily interactions. His calling to serve urban school communities is grounded in the belief that all students can meet and exceed academic expectations through intentionality.


Erin S. O’Keefe – Director of the Center for Community, Service, and Justice (CCSJ) at Loyola University Maryland

Erin O'Keefe

Erin S. O’Keefe is director of Loyola University Maryland’s 25-year-old Center for Community, Service, and Justice where she oversees the university’s community engagement strategies and partnerships.  From 2010-2015 O’Keefe served as the founding director of Loyola’s York Road Initiative, a place-based community development strategy focused on strengthening the York Road communities of north Baltimore.  Prior to joining Loyola in 2010, O’Keefe worked in community affairs for the Johns Hopkins University, as an urban policy research assistant in the School of Public Policy at UMBC, and in community services at Catholic Charities of Baltimore.  O’Keefe holds an undergraduate degree in political science from Loyola and a master of public policy degree from UMBC, where she is currently working on her PhD dissertation in urban policy.  She is a fellow of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and was named one of Maryland’s Leading Women by The Daily Record.  O’Keefe lives in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore City with her partner Matt and their rescue rottweiler Henry and sits on the Board of Directors for Citizens Planning and Housing Association and Strong City Baltimore.



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