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Meet Assistant Teaching Professor Pooneh Lari ’08EDD: ‘I Believe a Classroom, Whether In-person or Online, Is a Community, Which Requires Camaraderie, Collaboration, Communication and Grace’

Photo of Pooneh Lari with title: Assistant Teaching Professor of Adult and Lifelong Education

Pooneh Lari ’08EDD will join NC State’s College of Education in the 2022-23 academic year as an assistant teaching professor of adult and lifelong education in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development.

Lari earned her Ed.D. in Adult and Community College Education from the NC State College of Education in 2008, and she has served the college in a variety of roles prior to her joining the faculty. 

In the following Q&A, Lari shares what motivates her, why sees the classroom as a community and what she believes it takes to be an extraordinary educator.

The following Q&A has been edited for clarity.

Why did you choose a career in education?

My dad has been a lifelong educator, and growing up I was always amazed by all of the stories he brought home from class. In my later years, I met some of his students, and although years had passed, they saw my dad as their hero. They would even share stories of their own about the difference and the impact he had made on their lives. I wanted to be that person!

What inspired you to pursue a doctoral degree?

Sometimes, people you meet leave you with a lasting impact in ways that you may not recognize in the moment. Both at home and when I took my first job at NC State as an instructional designer many years ago, I was surrounded by brilliant people. Their aspirations for new learning, their drive, their motivation, their perseverance and the difference they made in everything and everyone they touched was inspiring to me. They instilled in me that nothing is impossible!

What are your research interests?

My research interests include building meaningful communities of learning and communities of practice in an online environment, and ways to design relatable learning experiences for students.

What sparked your interest in those topics?

These research areas interest me because in a lot of instances, online instruction lacks the opportunity to make students feel empowered in the way they relate to the content, to other learners and to the instructor.

What is one moment or project in your academic career that you are particularly proud of?

I am proud when a past student contacts me and says how I had made a difference in their life, and they hoped that they had made me proud! I am finally that person who I had hoped to become!

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe a classroom, whether in-person or online, is a community, which requires camaraderie, collaboration, communication and grace. We allow for everyone to come into this safe, no-judgment environment, where they can learn not only from the instructor and from the content, but from each other. We all have a wealth of knowledge and experience that we can share, hence making our class community a very learner-centered space.

What do you hope your students learn from you?

Nothing is impossible. If you show up wanting and trying, I will get you to where you want to go!

What do you believe makes someone an extraordinary educator?

I like to think that as an educator, someone who cares is an extraordinary educator. You need to have a purpose and understand your purpose as an educator!