Thanks to the College of Education's growing commitment to DEI efforts, professional development and global education and online programs, the Linda R. Baker Teacher Leader Center (BTLC) staff is expanding, hiring two new associate directors, both alumni.
These new staff members are helping to strengthen the college's pipeline programs and diversify the education workforce, including teachers and administrators, as well as expand professional development and global education and online programs.
Amira Nash (BA '17, MA '19) joined the college as the new associate director of partnerships and programs this fall, bringing experience working with underserved students in the Iowa City Community School District. She is leading the college's efforts to create pipeline programs with local school districts to diversify the teacher workforce. This also includes helping educators who seek to move into administrative roles, partnering with the college's Educational Policy and Leadership Studies department and the Iowa City Community School District. The goal is to establish pathways which will allow for successful transitions for diverse candidates. Nash's international experience will also be a benefit as the colleges continues to expand its global education offerings.
Nash earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology along with her teaching licensure in 5-12 Social Studies, K-12 English Language Learning (ELL), and 5-12 Spanish from the UI. Her first year, she studied abroad for a J term in Spain, her first time out of the U.S. She later studied in India twice with the College of Education on the India Winterim program, she volunteered in Cuba, and she completed half of her student teaching in Ecuador. She went on to complete her Master of Arts in Teaching, Leadership, and Cultural Competency, also from the UI. She is currently working on a doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies: Schools, Culture, and Society, to become a three-time alumnus of the College of Education.
For the past four years, Nash taught ELL, American Studies, Advanced Placement Psychology, Success Center, and Ethnic Studies at Iowa City West High School. For the majority of her students, she was their first teacher of color. In her own K-12 education in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she says she didn't have a Black teacher until her sophomore year of college. "While I miss my students dearly, I am so excited to create a program that will diversify Iowa's teacher workforce so that other students of color in Iowa won't need to wait until college to have a teacher that looks like them. I am also excited to support this work with the college's anti-racism and globalization initiatives."
Mariana Colombo (PHD, '17) joined the college this past summer as the new associate director of professional development and online programming in the BTLC. In collaboration with the BTLC directors, Colombo coordinates and supports the development and implementation of the college's online programs including the Master of Arts in Teaching Leadership and Cultural Competency, the Master of Science in STEM Education, the Iowa Licensure Renewal Program, the Regents Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure Program, and the Teacher Leader Certificate.
Before joining the BTLC, Colombo supported faculty across campus at the UI on implementing instructional technology into their practices and conducted research on topics related to technology and education. She also worked for almost 10 years as a foreign language teacher, teaching English as a foreign language in Brazil and Portuguese as a foreign language in the U.S.
Colombo holds a doctorate in Foreign Language & ESL Education from the University of Iowa, a Master of Arts in Linguistic Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in Translation Studies from São Paulo State University (UNESP).
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