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Nina Schoonover ’22PHD: ‘I Hope to Continue to Fight for More Equitable School Practices that Embrace Students’ Diverse Ways of Knowing’

Nina Schoonover

As a former high school English teacher, Nina Schoonover ’22PHD always used the arts in her classroom. When she wanted to know more about how to equip other teachers to integrate the arts into their classrooms, she decided to enroll in the NC State College of Education to earn her Ph.D.

Now, as she graduates with her Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Science in the literacy and English language arts program area of study, she will use her knowledge to conduct equity-focused research in her home state of Virginia.

Learn more about Nina Schoonover 

Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia

Degree: Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences Literacy and English Language Arts Education program area of study 

Activities (Research or Extracurricular): Research — arts integration in secondary English language arts. Extracurricular — hiking and gardening

Why did you choose the NC State College of Education?

I wanted to attend a large public university where I could make a difference in education by preparing future North Carolina teachers. As well, I was drawn to the College of Education’s commitment to education by providing plentiful resources and opportunities for their students. 

Why did you choose your area of study? 

I am a former high school English teacher, so I hoped to study to earn my Ph.D. to broaden my understanding of education and make a difference in the field. 

What do you hope to accomplish in your field after graduation?

I hope to continue to fight for more equitable school practices that embrace students’ diverse ways of knowing, which includes more access to the arts.

What’s your next step? What do you have planned after graduation?

I accepted a position at the University of Virginia’s Equity Center as a data scientist, where I will be conducting equity-focused education research.

How has the College of Education prepared you for that next step?

I have learned so much about education research from my coursework, my advisor, my committee and from my assistantships. They have also fostered my drive towards culturally sustaining pedagogies. 

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the College of Education?

I loved my time studying abroad in Finland and Estonia in 2018 with fellow doctoral students. It was a great trip! 

Tell us about an experience you had with the College of Education that had the biggest impact on you or your career.

During my third year in the program, I met with two other Ph.D. students weekly for lunch in the graduate student lounge across from METRC. We used this time to connect, share resources and build our friendship. We also worked on a research project together that year that culminated in multiple conference presentations and a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Such a great experience!

Why did you choose education?

For the students! I love watching them grow in their passions and I love giving them the resources to follow their dreams.  

What are your research interests? What inspired those interests?

Arts integration in English language arts education. I used art as an English language arts teacher, so I was interested in researching how and why this work is being done in the subject area and how to better equip teachers for integrating the arts.