MSU faculty, alumni awarded NAEd/Spencer Fellowships

February 11, 2021

Assistant Professor Vaughn W. M. Watson and alumnus Jon M. Wargo have been awarded a 2020 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Only 30 scholars were selected nationwide for the competitive, early career fellowship program, which includes $70,000 to focus on research and professional development. The fellows were chosen because of their commitment to, and research on, critical issues that address the “history, theory or practice of formal or informal education, at the national and international levels,” according to the National Academy of Education.

Watson, part of the Department of Teacher Education, is a former public high school teacher whose research focuses on the interplay of literacy practices for youth of color and emerging forms of their civic engagement within and across social, cultural and geographical contexts.

His research as part of the fellowship will center on how “African immigrant youth engage civically across schooling and community practices, and how education [teachers and leaders] design teaching and learning that support African immigrant youth in demonstrating their complex identities in their creative, artistic and embodied literacy practices.”

Vaughn W. M. Watson

Also a former public schools teacher, Wargo is currently an assistant professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development. He graduated from MSU’s Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education (CITE) doctoral program in 2016.

During the fellowship, he will explore “how inclusive educational policy shapes the teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) history in elementary social studies.”

Jon M. Wargo

In addition, alumna Cassie J. Brownell, a past early childhood educator, was chosen as an NAEd/Spencer Research Development Awardee. Brownell and six other faculty honorees, chosen from a pool of semi-finalists for the NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowships, will also receive funding for research and professional development.

Brownell, a 2018 graduate of the CITE program, is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Building from her dissertation study with third-graders, which coincided with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Brownell is revisiting the now-middle school students in the 2020-21 academic year. Additionally, she is engaging a new group of Michigan elementary children and plans to again reconnect with both groups during the next presidential election cycle in 2024.

Cassie J. Brownell

The opportunities, from a partnership with the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation, aim to engage new generations of scholars in influential research. Read more about the fellowship opportunities, including more on the work of Watson/Wargo and Brownell.

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