Afra Hersi, Ph.D

Interim Dean, School of Education
Professor, Literacy Teacher Education 
Xavier Hall 101
410-617-5343
ahersi@loyola.edu

Education

Ph.D., Boston College, Curriculum and Instruction: Language, Literacy, and Learning

  • Dissertation: Hersi, A.A. (2007). Between hope and hostility: Understanding the experiences of African immigrant students in an urban high school.

M.Ed., Boston College, Curriculum and Instruction
B.S., Radford University, Social Studies and Secondary Education

Biography

Afra Ahmed Hersi is the Interim Dean of the School of Education at Loyola University Maryland and a Professor in Literacy Teacher Education. Dr. Hersi joined the Teacher Education department faculty in 2007, received tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2013, and was promoted to professor of literacy teacher education in 2021. Dr. Hersi earned her B.A. in Social Studies and Secondary Education from Radford University, her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College, and her Ph.D., in Curriculum and Instruction: Language, Literacy, and Learning from Boston College. Over her career, Dr. Hersi served as a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, research associate, and an administrator for a community-based organization.

“Dr. Hersi brings to the role 24 years of experience in education, including 14 years in higher education, as well as a focus on equity, social justice, and educator preparation,” said Amanda M. Thomas, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Her expertise, experience, and marvelous energy will serve the School of Education well, especially at this moment in Loyola’s history.”

As interim dean, Dr. Hersi will lead the faculty in shaping curricular offerings to meet current and future market needs, foster collaborations among departments in the School and throughout the University, and work to enhance recognition and reputation of the School.

“In the School of Education, we have some of the best people applying their expertise to further our mission to prepare highly effective and ethical educators who are change agents committed to social justice, improving education and life for children. The School of Education is a place where the University mission is lived in a purposeful and impactful way,” Hersi said. “I have a steadfast belief in the people within our School of Education community. I look forward to leaning into our equity and inclusion mission and strengthening education throughout Baltimore and the region.”

Dr. Hersi has published research in the areas of immigration and education, literacy, language development for bilingual learners, culturally and linguistically responsive practice, and teacher education. Her focus is on academic opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse students and research that expands the educational and life opportunities of marginalized children, their families, and communities.

Awards and Grants

Kolvenbach Fellow, 2009
Verizon Foundation Grant $15,000, 2010 (Literacy Scholars Program in collaboration with the Development Office and Loyola Clinical Centers).
Knott Foundation Grant (Literacy Scholars Program in collaboration with the Development Office and Loyola Clinical Centers).
Junior Sabbatical, Awarded Fall 2011

Research Interests

Literacy teacher education; language and literacy development of adolescent English language learners; immigration and social identity development; and culturally responsive teacher; urban school reform; parent community engagement.

Recent Publications

Hersi, A.A., Horan, D. A., & Lewis, M.  (Summer 2016). Redefining “community” through collaboration and co-teaching: A case study of an ESOL specialist, a literacy specialist, and a fifth-grade teacher. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice

Horan, D.A., & Hersi. A.A. & Kelsall, P. (2015). The dialogic nature of meaning making within a hybrid learning space: Individual, community, and knowledge-building pedagogical Tools. (S. Keengwe, Ed). Handbook of Research on Active Learning and the Flipped Learning Model in the Digital Age.

Watkinson, J.S., & Hersi, A.A. (2014). School counselors supporting African immigrant students’ career development: A case study. Career Development Quarterly. March, 62.

Hersi, A.A. (2013). Transnational immigration and family context: What teachers should know. In S. Keengwe, (Ed.) Cross-Cultural Considerations in the Education of Young Immigrant Learners. IGI Global Publishing

Review Essays

Hersi, A. A. (2010). Review of The flat world and education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. Journal of Educational Change, 11, pp. 291-295.

Recent Presentations

Horan, D. A. & Hersi, A.A. (2015).  Bilingual Pre-Service Teachers’ Responses to Border Crossing Literature. Literacy Research  Association, Carlsbad, California

Hersi, A. A. & *Thornbury, J. (2016). Challenging the “Play Gets in the Way” Myth: Play and Literacy Instruction in an Urban Classroom. American Education Research Association Annual Conference, Washington DC

Hersi, A.A. *Smith, S. (2016). Race and Resiliency: Understanding the Experiences of High Achieving African American Male Students. American Education Research Association Annual Conference, Washington DC

Hersi, A.A. *Smith, S. (2014).  The Pursuit of Excellence: Unpacking the Experiences of African American Male Students Enrolled in an International Baccalaureate Program. American Education Research Association Annual Conference, Chicago.

Hersi, A. A., Lewis, M., & Horan, D. A. (2013). Building a Community of Practice: Transforming English Language Arts Instruction for English Language Learners Hersi, A.A. (2012). National Council of Teachers of English, Boston MA.

Hersi, A. A. & Smith-D’Arezzo, W. M (2013). Reflections on Teacher Education and Social Justice. Justice Conference. The National Steering Committee on Justice in Jesuit       Higher Education International Conference, at Creighton University. 

Hersi, A. A.  Falling Through the Cracks: Unpacking the educational experiences of students with limited formal education (SIFE). American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC. April, 2012

Hersi, A.A. Culturally Responsive Literacy Practice. Loyola/Notre Dame Library Faculty Scholarship Symposium., February, 2012

Hersi, A.A., Skerrett, A., & Deal, D. Co-Teaching Case Study: A Classroom Teacher, Reading Specialist, and ESOL Teacher Collaborate in One Classroom. American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, April, 2011.

Hersi, A.A. Immigration and resiliency: Unpacking the experiences of high school students from Cape Verde and Ethiopia. American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, April, 2011.

Watkinson, J.S. & Hersi, A.A. Supporting immigrant adolescent students' success: Power of Teachers. American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, April, 2011.

Hersi, A. A. Gollo-Fox, J. & Lewis, L. Preparing Elementary Classroom Teachers and Reading Specialists: Taking a Closer Look at the Reading Practicum International Reading Association Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, May 2011

Miller, D., Hersi., A.A. & Laster, B. IRA Standards, 2010: Promises and Opportunities (K-12). State of Maryland International Reading Association Annual Conference.

Watkinson, J., Hersi, A.A., and Litcka, P. (April, 2010). Fragile Partners: Catholic School University Partnerships. American Education Research Association Denver CO.

Smith-D’Arezzo, W.M. & Hersi, A. A., Antoinino, C., Felix, K., Costa, Dharmadhikari, V. (May, 2010) Inquiry and teacher research in urban classrooms: Empowering teachers to act. International Reading Association National Convention, Chicago, Illinois.

Hersi, A.A.(December, 2009). Preparing Pre-service Teachers to Engage English Language Learners in Content Area Classrooms. National Reading Conference, Albuquerque NM.

Smith-D’Arezzo, W.M. & Hersi, A.A. (May, 2009). Infusing Action Research in a Reading Specialist Program: Implementing an Innovative Two-Course Sequence. International Reading Association: Minneapolis, MN.

Hersi, A.A. & Riley, J. (November, 2009). The Power of zines: Pedagogical strategies for engaging middle school students in authentic writing. Annual Conference of the National Council of Teachers of English, Philadelphia, PA

Smith-D’Arezzo, W.M. & Hersi, A. A. (December, 2009). Bullying, books, Boys vs girls. 2009 National Reading Conference, Albuquerque NM.

Hersi, A.A. (December, 2009). Preparing Pre-service Teachers to Engage English Language Learners in Content Area Classrooms. National Reading Conference, Albuquerque NM.

Horan, D., & Hersi, A. A. (2010). Preparing teachers for diversity: An alternative to ‘linguistic course work’ for student teachers in the U.S.A. In S. Elis, J. Bourne, and E. McCartnery (Eds.). Insight and Impact: Applied Linguistics and the Primary School. Cambridge University Press.

Hersi, A.A. (April, 2008). Between Hope and Hostility: Exploring the Experiences of African Immigrant Students in an Urban High School”. American Education Research Association Annual Conference, New York City, NY.

Hersi, A.A. (2008), “Search for Belonging: African Immigrant High School Students Negotiating Identity” American Association of Applied Linguists (AAAL) Washington DC.