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Crystal Chen Lee

Associate Professor, English Education

402S Poe Hall


Crystal Chen Lee (Ed.D.) is an Associate Professor of English Education in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Her research lies at the nexus of literacy, teacher education, community engagement and marginalized youth. She is the founding director and PI of the Literacy and Community Initiative (LCI), a collaboration among the College of Education, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, and youth-serving community organizations. Dr. Lee also has two appointments as a Faculty Fellow of the Friday Institute of Educational Innovation and a NCSU Community Engaged Fellow. Her work has been featured nationally and internationally, and she has been published in books and journal articles such as Urban Education, Teachers College Record, Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, English Journal, Teaching and Teacher Education, and  International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. Her work has been supported by grants such as the National Council of Teachers of English, Engaged Scholarship Consortium, and National Science Foundation.

Dr. Lee began her teaching experience as a high school English teacher in New Jersey and a literacy instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University and Montclair State University. In addition to her teaching, she has also served as an International Leadership Civic Fellow in the United States Congress and an education intern at International Justice Mission, a global non-profit organization partnering with local justice systems to end violence against people living in poverty. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia University. Her dissertation received the AERA Research in Women and Education SIG Outstanding Dissertation Award (Selma Greenberg Award), the American Association of University Women (AAUW) American Dissertation Fellowship, Teachers College’s Provost Dissertation Award, and Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship.

Research Description

The driving force of Dr. Lee’s scholarship and research has been her passion for educational equity. Within this passion, her research agenda focuses on two strands: literacy and teacher education, with an intersection of community engagement and marginalized populations in each strand. The first strand focuses on how critical literacy can lead to increased literacy improvement and community engagement particularly for marginalized students. Specifically, this strand examines how literacy is not separate from youth advocacy and leadership but is rather intertwined. The second strand focuses on how teacher education can be improved and developed through a social justice framework that values communities and marginalized populations. In recognizing the literacy practices of community organizations, Dr. Lee is passionate about publishing student voices, as well amplifying students’ academic and personal strengths to inform how the community can meet the literacy needs of currently underserved and immigrant youth. Dr. Lee is the founding director and PI of the Literacy and Community Initiative (LCI) that examines and promotes the power of voice among marginalized students through a model of Write, Engage, and Lead. LCI’s mission is to build university and community-based partnerships by amplifying student voices through student publication, advocacy, and leadership. Dr. Lee’s current research projects and trajectories are:

  • Critical Literacy, Youth, and Community Engagement
  • Literacy and Leadership in Community-Based Organizations
  • Immigrant and Refugee Student Experiences
  • Literacy and the Social and Emotional Well-Being of Marginalized Students
  • Critical Literacy Practices and Teacher Education in English Language Arts
  • Teacher Education for Immigrant and Refugee Students

Teaching and Mentoring: Dr. Lee currently teaches in the PhD in Literacy and English Language Arts concentration, PhD in Educational Equity concentration, Master’s in New Literacies and Global Learning program, and B.A. in English with a Teaching English certification program, a combined program with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is currently accepting doctoral students.

Selected Scholarly Publications

*indicates publication with graduate student

**indicates publication with high school student participant

  • Lee, C. C., Donovan, C.* & Mann, J.C.* (2023). The potential of community-based partnerships for English Language Arts pre-service teacher education. English Education.
  • Akin, S., Lee, C. C., & Knight-Manuel, M. (2023). Opening Pandora’s Box: A culturally relevant perspective on elementary teachers’ approaches to educating immigrant and refugee students in Turkey. European Journal of Teacher Education. Online First publication. 
  • Goodwin, A.L, McDevitt, S. Lee, C. C., & Akin-Sabuncu, S. (2023).  Educating a world on the move: Rethinking teacher preparation in the context of mass global migration and increasingly diverse classrooms. In R. Tierney, F. Rizvi, G. Smith and K. Erickan. (Eds.). In International Encyclopedia of Education, Vol. 5. (pp. 671-680). Elsevier.
  • Mann, J. C.* & Lee, C. C. (2022). “They just go by making their own hate story”: Interrogating stereotypes with refugee students in community-based spaces. Language Arts. 99(6), 417-422.
  • Lee, C. C., Jacobs, L.*, & Mann, J.C.* (2022). Writing with dignity among youth in urban communities: Using mentor texts as a reflective tool for transformation. Urban Education. Online First publication. 
  • Lee, C. C., Goodwin, A.L, Akin, S., & McDevitt, S. (2021).  Teachers for immigrant students: A systematic literature review across U.S., Turkey, and Hong Kong. Teachers College Record. 123(12). 
  • Lee, C. C., Dufresne, K.V.*, Jacobs, L.*, Donovan, C.*, & Mann, J.C.* (2021). Voicing Vulnerability: Narratives of healing among adolescent girls in a community-based organization.  In B.J. Guzzetti (Ed.). In Genders, Cultures, and Literacies: Understanding Intersecting Identities. Routledge/Taylor & Francis.
  • Lee, C. C., Falter, M. M., & Alston, C. (2021). Antiracist teaching in English language arts: Toward a full humanity. Language Arts. 99(1), 56-58.
  • Goodwin, A.L., Lee, C. C., & Pratt, S.[1] (2021). The poetic humanity of teacher education: Holistic mentoring for beginning teachers. Professional Development in Education. Advance online publication.  [1] All authors have equal authorship and are in alphabetical order.
  • Spires, H., Himes, M., Lee, C. C. & Gambino, A. (2021). “We are the future”: Critical inquiry and social action in the classroom. Journal of Literacy Research. 53(2),  219-241.
  • Lee, C. C., Falter, M. M., & Schoonover, N. R.* (2021). Encountering the affective in Latino immigrant youth narratives. Reading Research Quarterly. 56(2), 273-292.
  • Johnston, K. C., Omogun, L., & Lee, C.C. (2021). From New York City to the world: Examining critical global literacies in an English Language Arts classroom. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. 35(2), 215-230.
  • Lee, C. C., Dufresne, K.V.*, & Relyea, J. (2021). “They are Doers”: Writing to advocate with immigrant youth in community-based organizations. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 64(5), 497-509.
  • Lee, C. C., Picart, J.,  Schoonover, N.*& Dufresne K.V.*  (2020). The power of literacy for community engagement: Partnering with youth community-based organizations. In N. Stahl & L. Henry (Eds.). In Literacy Across the Community: A Handbook of Research and Praxis. Routledge/Taylor & Francis.
  • Cervantes, A.**, Cruz, B.**, Dufresne, K.V.*, Garcia-Galindo, K.**, Hernandez, A.**, Lee, C. C., Schoonover, N.* & Zavala, L.** (2020). Justice poets and proponents: Creating safe spaces for minorities. Fringes: North Carolina English Language Arts Teachers’ Association Journal. 2(1), 37-47. (With student participants)
  • Lee, C. C. (2020). “I Have a Voice”: Reexamining researcher positionality with African immigrant girls in New York City. Multicultural Perspectives. 22(1), 46-54.
  • Roegman, R., Reagan, E., Goodwin, A. L., Lee, C. C., & Vernikoff, L. (2020). Reimagining social justice-oriented teacher preparation in current sociopolitical contexts. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 34(2), 145-167.
  • Lee, C. C. & Schoonover N.* (2019). “My Life’s Blueprint”: Publishing critical youth narratives in community-based organizations. English Teaching: Practice & Critique. 19(1). 107-120.
  • Lee, C. C. (2019). “Invite their languages in”: Community-based literacy practices with multilingual African immigrant girls in New York City. International Journal of Multicultural Education. 21(2), 1-22.
  • Lee, C. C. & Dickstein, K. (2019). Taking global action beyond the book. English Journal. 109(1). 114-116.
  • Lee, C. C. Akin, S. & Goodwin, A.L. (2019). Teacher candidates’ intentions to teach: implications for recruiting and retaining teachers in urban schools. Journal of Education for Teaching, 45(5). DOI: 10.1080/02607476.2019.1674562
  • Lee, C. C. & Goulding, C. (2018). Teaching the acts of witnessing in Maus and Night. In M. Falter & S. Bickmore (Eds.) Moving beyond personal loss to societal grieving: Discussing death’s social impact through literature in the secondary ELA classroom. (pp. 149-162). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Lee, C. C. (2018). A critical case for rendering the invisible: The mentorship, scholarship, and leadership of Professor A. Lin Goodwin. In N. Hartlep (Ed.), Asian/American Scholars of Education: 21st Century Pedagogies, Perspective, and Experiences. (pp. 29-42) Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Roegman, R., Pratt, S., Sanchez, S. & Chen, C. (2018). Between extraordinary and marginalized: Negotiating tensions in becoming teachers of students with labeled disabilities. The New Educator, 14(4), 293-314.
  • Reagan, E. M., Chen, C., & Vernikoff, L. (2016). “Teachers are works in progress”: A mixed methods study of teaching residents’ beliefs and articulations of teaching for social justice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 59, 213-227.
  • Chen, C., Desai, K. & Knight-Manuel, M. (2016): Fostering a humanizing pedagogy: Imagined possibilities for African immigrant girls. Education Leadership Review. 16(3), 34-41.
  • Goodwin, A. L. & Chen, C. (2016). New Knowledges for Teacher Educating?: Perspectives from practicing teacher educators. In C. Kosnik, S. White, C. Beck, B. Marshall, A. L. Goodwin, & J. Murray (Eds.), Building Bridges: Rethinking Literacy Teacher Education in a Digital Era (pp. 149-162). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
  • Reagan, E. M., Chen, C., Roegman, R., & Zuckerman, K. (2015). Round and round: Examining teaching residents’ participations in and reflections on education rounds. International Journal of Educational Research, 73, 65-76..

Courses Taught

  • ECI 709 Critical Literacy for Social Change
  • ECI 709 Critical Theory and Public Engagement
  • ECI 541  Reading in the Content Areas
  • ECI 524 Theory and Research in Global Learning
  • ECI 307 Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum
  • ECI 450 Methods and Materials in Teaching English
  • ECI 454 Student Teaching in ELA-Secondary

Honors and Awards

  • National Council of Research on Language and Literacy (NCRLL) Early Career Award Finalist
  • NCSU Executive Council of the Academy of Outstanding Faculty in Extension and Engagement
  • NCSU Outstanding Engagement Award
  • Kofi Lomotey Outstanding Reviewer Award, Urban Education
  • NCSU College of Education University Faculty Scholar Nominee
  • NCSU College of Education Outstanding Teacher Award Nominee
  • AERA Research in Women and Education Outstanding Dissertation Award (Selma Greenberg Award)
  • AAUW American Dissertation Fellowship

Services and Engagements


Ed.D. Curriculum and Teaching Teachers College, Columbia University 2017

M.Ed. English Language Arts Rutgers Graduate School of Education 2009

B.A. English, Summa Cum Laude Rutgers University-New Brunswick 2008