Newswise — A University of Illinois at Chicago education professor has received a Fulbright award to study new teaching preparation programs in Greece, where she will also study how teachers in that country are helping refugee students fleeing war-torn areas in the Middle East.
Eleni Katsarou is clinical professor emerita of curriculum and instruction in the UIC College of Education, from which she also earned her doctorate.
Katsarou, who was born in Greece and where she has personal and professional connections, was issued the award from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Fulbright scholarships aim to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those in other countries. It is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.
In her application, Katsarou said she hoped to extend her expertise educating elementary school teacher candidates in urban public schools in the U.S. to Greece, where those teachers face similar struggles.
“I am specifically aiming to focus in the teacher preparation program, and bring to the fore particular issues of teacher quality and new professionalism, 21st century skills, abilities and dispositions, and new ways of thinking about bilingual/multilingual and multicultural education, primarily as beginning teachers enter the public school domain,” Katsarou said.
Kasarou is also interested in studying how education policy is formed in Greece and how innovation is supported in that country. She hopes to use what she learns there to inform her work preparing new teachers in the U.S.
Katsarou said a second aim of her work in Greece is to study the critical role that sociopolitical contexts play in public schools.
“The great movement of political and economic refugees of the last decade, and the last two years especially, have illustrated amply that there is a great need in understanding all matters surrounding the academic, ethical, and emotional education of children and youth as they enter schooling,” she said.
Katsarou’s research interests include teacher education in urban contexts, critical perspectives in teacher education, and social justice issues in schools and local communities. Her work centers on collaborations with teachers and leaders of schools as they jointly attempt to understand what constitutes caring and ethical teaching.
Katsarou, who retired from UIC in June, will spend six months on the project beginning in January 2018. She aims to work with colleagues at the University of Patras’ department of educational sciences and early childhood education.
UIC College of Education Dean Alfred Tatum applauded Katsarou’s selection, calling her an “integral member” of the college.
“Dr. Eleni Katsarou was a stalwart of the urban elementary education teacher preparation program for many years, laying a foundation that remains central to the College of Education,” said Tatum. “I am excited that she was awarded this prestigious Fulbright, but I am more excited for those who will benefit from her expertise and unwavering advocacy.”