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Goodnight Distinguished Professor in Educational Equity Maria Coady Receives Leadership Through Research Award from AERA Second Language Research SIG

NC State College of Education Goodnight Distinguished Professor in Educational Equity Maria Coady has received the Leadership Through Research Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Second Language Research Special Interest Group (SIG). 

The award honors scholars who have played an active and long-standing role in the field of second language education; are nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in the field; have engaged in original and innovative research that is recognized as having a major impact on the understanding of second language education; support other scholars in furthering their research and teaching in the field; and engaged in work that has had an impact on equity and access for second language learners and their teachers. 

“It is a special honor for me to receive this award because the Second Language Research SIG has exceptional scholars and leaders in the field and their work is a hallmark of quality research, educational equity and advocacy for multilingual students,” Coady said. “A recognition by these scholars is truly humbling.” 

For more than two decades, Coady’s research has focused on English language and multilingual learners in rural settings with a particular focus on students’ literacy and language development, educational practices for rural multilingual students and ways educators and schools can best engage multilingual learners and their families.

Coady said this year marks the first time that the award committee for the Leadership Through Research Award recognized rural multilingual learners as a specific subgroup of students who are often under-resourced. 

“Little research has taken place in rural communities for our multilingual students. I believe this recognition is significant because it recognizes rural multilingual students, families and educators,” she said. “I am also grateful for the rural communities and educators who have let me into their spaces to learn about their work and the unique context of rural education.” 

Since joining the College of Education in 2022 as the inaugural Goodnight Distinguished Professor in Educational Equity, Coady has met with school leaders in multiple rural school districts in North Carolina to discuss their needs and offer support related to teaching multilingual learners. She has also initiated research studies in rural schools and provided professional development activities for K-12 teachers in the state. 

With funding from the Spencer Foundation, Coady last year hosted the first-ever Conference on Rural English Learner Education and Research (CREER), a gathering that brought together scholars and educators from across the country to identify and discuss the state of educational programs, policies and practices for multilingual learners and families as well as create a collaborative plan and a national research agenda for this population.

In 2023, she also released Educating Multilingual Students in Rural Schools, an edited book that features place-based research studies and professional development projects that address localized challenges for working with rural multilingual students and families, and was elected to the National Association for Bilingual Education Executive Board.

“Working in rural multilingual education has been a tremendous journey,” Coady said. “Very little research has captured or sought to understand the unique context of rural education and how multilingual students and families have contributed to thriving rural communities today. During COVID, these were our unsung essential worker-heroes. I believe the research has blazed a trail to illuminate these students and families and their strengths.”