BernNadette Best-Green is passionate about increasing equity and social justice for academically vulnerable populations. During her tenure as a K-8 educator serving as a teacher, vice principal, summer school principal and project director, Best-Green grew increasingly concerned about the widening disparities in student achievement often linked to cultural, socioeconomic and linguistic differences. Inspired by scholars whose research in teacher education fostered improved outcomes for diverse populations, Best-Green was determined to conduct her own educational research that would better prepare teachers to effectively educate all students.
“All students deserve equitable access to educational opportunities,” she says. “As public school teachers and administrators — and as custodians of the ‘democratic project of education’ — this is our charge!”
After earning her Master of Arts Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from CSU Sacramento in 2008, Best-Green explored the prospects of pursuing her Ph.D. in Education. She was impressed with UC Davis’ distinguished reputation, high national ranking and convenient proximity to her family’s Elk Grove home. The deal was sealed when the UCD Graduate Group in Education offered her a four-year fellowship package, including the Teacher Educator-Scholar Fellowship which will provide BernNadette with mentorship and training for a position as a teacher educator and scholar within a research university context.
During the 2013-2014 year, Best-Green’s fellowship supported her work as a graduate student researcher on Professor Steven Athanases’ Cultural Themes and Cultural Autobiography projects, and as a teaching assistant for his undergraduate “Cultural Diversity and Education in a Sociopolitical Context” course. During the 2014-2015 year, in addition to serving in the capacity of university supervisor to UCD teacher credential students placed as student teachers in Northern California elementary schools, Best-Green also works as a graduate student researcher to assist Professor Gloria Rodriguez in launching a school finance/community input project.
Best-Green values the interdisciplinary nature of the graduate group structure. “It provides me with opportunities to collaborate with faculty and peers (from fields such as anthropology, linguistics, African American and ethnic studies, sociology, feminist theory and research, literature, writing, economics, etc.) who have research interests that are pertinent to augmenting the academic achievement of culturally, linguistically and socioeconomically diverse learners. I’ve had amazing opportunities to engage with professors, advisors and faculty mentors across multiple fields of study relevant to my interests.”
Under the supervision of Professor Cynthia Carter-Ching, Best-Green is the principal investigator of a UC Davis research study entitled, “Thriving While Black: Understanding Black University Students’ Perspectives About the K-12 Teacher and School Characteristics That Were Most Helpful and Most Harmful To Their College Aspirations.” By giving privilege to the perspectives and lived experiences of domestic and diasporic African American students, this study seeks to illuminate factors that serve as enablers and detractors of their educational trajectories. This study will report findings in 2014. Under the supervision of Professors Danny C. Martinez and Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo, BernNadette also serves as the principal investigator of a second UC Davis research study entitled, “Understanding How New Teachers Can Augment the Academic Achievement of Culturally, Linguistically, and Socioeconomically Diverse Learners.” This study was recently selected for inclusion in California Council on Teacher Education’s 2014-2015 Quest for Teacher Education Research, and it is expected to report findings in spring of 2015. In addition to Carter-Ching, Rodriguez and Watson-Gegeo, faculty advisors Athanases and Martinez have been instrumental in providing Best-Green with critical guidance and support.
Best-Green seeks opportunities to work with colleagues to organize informal and campus-wide events and create spaces for fellow students to build community and support one another’s research while they complete their graduate and professional programs. She has held leadership positions and membership in campus-based affiliations such as the Chancellor’s Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board, the Chancellor’s Ambassador Program, the Graduate Ally Coalition’s inaugural “Celebrating Diversity and Ally Training,” the Social Justice Education Committee of Ed GSA and the Black Graduate and Professional Students’ Association. She believes leadership activities provide balance to her studies and allow her to gain valuable skills and insights.
“In my future role as an African American female faculty member, researcher and scholar, I hope to integrate diversity in ways that improve education for all teacher candidates.”