Meet Jackie Relyea: ‘Inspire Others To Reach Their Fullest Potential’

Jackie Eunjung Relyea

This is part of a series of profiles about faculty who joined the NC State College of Education in 2019-20.

Why did you choose the NC State College of Education?

The NC State College of Education is one of a few institutions in the United States that has an unwavering commitment to educational equality. I am honored to be part of the College of Education team in preparing professionals to serve the needs of diverse students, schools and communities locally, nationally and globally.

Jackie Relyea, Ph.D.

Title: Assistant Professor of Early Literacy

Education: Ph.D. in Literacy Education, UNC-Chapel Hill; M.A. in TESOL, International Graduate School of English, South Korea; B.A. in Applied Linguistics & Geography; Kyung Hee University, South Korea

Experience: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard University; Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Houston; Lecturer, UNC-Chapel Hill; Research Intern, MetaMetrics; Graduate Research Assistant, FPG Child Institute

Why did you choose a career in education?

I have been fortunate to have so many inspiring teachers and mentors in my life who have shaped my values, beliefs and personality. Becoming an educator is following in their footsteps. I want to emulate their love and passion for all students and inspire others to reach their fullest potential in the learning process.

Why did you choose your specific field?

I chose literacy education because I realized that literacy was not just the ability to read and write. It is the gatekeeper to opportunities for building world knowledge and success in life in general. My goal is to work with educators to generate new knowledge about building more equitable learning environments and providing effective literacy instruction that can enhance students’ capacity to apply their literacy skills to life outside of school.

Why did you pursue a Ph.D.?

I was attracted to academic opportunities that embrace my love of intellectual pursuits and further my knowledge in literacy development and instruction for young children. I like being challenged and struggling to find answers to complex questions. My desire for adventure in research and learning led me to pursue my doctorate.

What are your research interests? 

My research interests focus on academic language and reading development for young children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. I am particularly interested in empirically evaluating competing theories and providing the evidence for which theory is more plausible than the other. My work also focuses on developing and evaluating adaptive interventions that emphasize the development of students’ domain knowledge and literacy skills. I aim to conduct theoretically and methodologically rigorous research to effectively inform policymakers.

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy embodies a student-centered approach that empowers students to take ownership of their learning experience and professional development. Through a student-led, project-based and hands-on learning approach, students in my class formulate questions posed by real-world observations and conduct in-depth research to address the questions.

What do you hope your students learn from you?

I hope my students learn to become better problem solvers and critical thinkers. My classroom will provide a safe environment where students are invited to push themselves far beyond their comfort zones and develop and apply exemplary leadership skills.