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Alumni Spotlight: Jordan Green M.A. '23

Jordan Green earned her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction for Social Justice in 2023 and currently works as a math specialist in elementary education. In this blog, Jordan shares why the CISJ program stood out to her. 

Jordan Green smiles against a green nature background, with her testimonial laid over the photo

Why did you choose the CISJ program at Loyola? 

I started the search for a graduate program after my second year of teaching. Not only did I know that pursuing a graduate degree in education would improve my teaching practice, but it would take me back to the environment of exploring best practices and current research in education that I missed in the time since finishing my undergraduate degree. In the search process, I found Loyola’s CISJ program, which perfectly melded my passion for social justice and my interest in a deeper understanding of curriculum and instruction. Additionally, as a Howard County teacher, having a cohort option was ideal because not only was the program going to fit within the confines of my working schedule, but it was also one of the most financially reasonable degree options. Loyola’s program truly was the best of all worlds for me, which is why I ended up selecting to enroll in the CISJ program.

Did you work while pursuing your degree? If so, how was your experience with work/life balance? 

Yes, I was working full time as a 4th grade teacher and in my last year of the degree, a 2nd grade teacher. I was also an instructional team leader and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaison at the time. While pursuing my degree was a significant increase in workload, it helped me to define a work/life balance. On a typical week, I was able to complete most of my work on weeknights and occasionally spent time working on weekends if/when I was not able to dedicate a weeknight to course work. I had to get in the habit of accomplishing tasks more efficiently during my work day so that I could allot time after school for graduate coursework. This balance was an important skill to learn and helped me become a stronger, more focused educator and student. It was not easy, but it was definitely doable, and worth the effort put into it. I will also say that the professors were incredibly understanding and treated all of us as adults with important, full time jobs--meaning, if there was ever a situation where we weren’t able to accomplish something on time, they were very flexible and gracious in working with us to come up with an alternative plan. You can tell that their ultimate goal was to help us be successful.

What were some of your favorite aspects about pursuing the CISJ degree at Loyola? 

There were a lot of great components of my journey through the CISJ program. I really enjoyed the variety in the courses I took. Each semester brought something completely different, so I was never bored with what I was doing. I took a course where I interviewed my grandmother as a part of an assignment which helped me learn more about her (and her education) and build a deeper connection with her. I was in a seminar where we got to meet and collaborate with teachers in Europe via Zoom. I even got to take courses about education law and multilingual learners since I selected the thematic track for my CISJ degree. In addition to the variety of courses, I also really valued the connections I was able to make with my professors and colleagues despite having to complete my degree entirely online. The relationships I built with my professors have allowed me to achieve so much beyond my degree--like being accepted by the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers which works to help minority students pursue continued higher education and presenting my capstone project at the American Educational Research Association Conference. I could tell from my 2.5 years at Loyola that my professors care deeply about their students and will go above and beyond to support the growth, goals, and dreams of their students. 

What do you think sets Loyola apart from other universities that offer a similar program? 

The focus on social justice was something that I realized immediately set Loyola apart. It was easy to find curriculum and instruction programs, but not as easy to find ones that specifically owned the fact that their program was intentionally designed to promote and equip people to pursue social justice in education. Also, being a cohort program for Maryland teachers definitely made Loyola stand out because not only would I be getting a degree, but I’d be doing it with fellow teachers (some of which I knew personally!) at an affordable cost with the flexibility to meet the needs of my full-time working schedule. 

How has your degree and experience at Loyola set you up for success in your career?

An immediate benefit to my career as a result of my experience at Loyola is that I’ve become much more of a critically conscious educator. The way in which I analyze curriculum, engage in learning spaces, and work with students has shifted dramatically. In addition to this every day impact, I have also gotten the opportunity to present at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference, take on the role of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaison at my school, create and lead professional development to school-based educators, and work on a curriculum writing project for a collaboration between Learning for Justice and NAMLE. I’m also in the process of considering the pursuit of a doctoral degree. I’ve gained so many experiences outside of the program thanks to professors, specifically Dr. Stephanie Flores-Koulish, that have helped me become a stronger educator and continue to fulfill me as a lifelong learner. 

How did your capstone experience shape you or prepare you for your career?

My capstone project was titled “Combating Disproportionality in Office Discipline Referrals Through Teacher Professional Development.” Engaging in this action research at the school I was teaching at during that time was an eye-opening experience. As a result of the project, I was able to use the observations and data I collected to determine the needs for staff professional development centered around equitable practices. In the end, I designed a series of professional development sessions to deliver to staff at this school as a means to combat disproportionality in office referrals. I have had the opportunity to pursue facilitation and professional development opportunities both during and after my time at Loyola. Additionally, I am going to be presenting my capstone research at the American Educational Research Association Conference in Philadelphia this April. My capstone experience has opened doors for me that I didn’t even know were possible to walk through. I am excited to see where this experience continues to take me in the coming months and years. 

Hear from Jordan on our Instagram page @loyola_education, or check out the CISJ website to explore the program!