NCTE Professional Dyads and Culturally Relevant Teaching (PDCRT) - National Council of Teachers of English

2021–2023 PDCRT Cohort

Rosalba Garcia-Rodriguez is a bilingual teacher at a dual teaching school in the city of San Antonio. Ms. Garcia has a cumulative experience of thirty-two years in education, sixteen as an associate professor at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City and sixteen more as a bilingual teacher in several Texas school districts. Garcia-Rodriguez wants to understand biculturalism and bilingualism to help her students achieve their goals.

María G. Leija is an assistant professor of early childhood education in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Leija examines how Latinx bilingual teachers incorporate students’ linguistic, experiential, and cultural experiences to develop students’ bilingual disciplinary literacy. In addition, her work examines how bilingual teachers effectively create bidirectional spaces between home and school to support emergent bilinguals’ social and academic success.


Bridgette Dainty has been a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher for seven years. I have taught K–4th Grade, and I love elementary students; they are so full of life, and just waiting to unlock all that potential. I am currently a fourth-grade teacher at Hopkins Lloyd Community School. As a teacher and a mom of two young kids, I am fascinated by learning. I love to create things from scratch and/or bring out someone’s full potential. I really do think as a teacher it’s our job to help students unlock what they are passionate about, what they have questions about, and ultimately how can they survive in this world that will make them financially stable, as well as happy. I look forward to learning about new practices and policies that can make my classroom environment thrive even better, as well as help me create a school environment where everyone has the same clear-cut expectations across the board when it comes to all the Common Core subjects. I can’t wait to get started on this new work, and absorb it, and teach it to others, and ultimately see our students get all they deserve to reach their full potential here at Hopkins Lloyd.

Alanna Harris is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the English Education department and a PhD candidate. Her teaching and research interests include English education, culturally responsive practices in urban education, critical social mindfulness, contemplative pedagogy, spirituality, antiracist practices, and critical whiteness studies in teacher education. In her free time, she hosts a healing-centered podcast and DJs as a modality of mindfulness practice.


Maggie Beneke is an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington. Her scholarship and teaching focus on issues of educational justice for young Children of Color with disabilities. Across this work, she seeks to disrupt early literacy expectations rooted in dominant, intersecting ideologies (i.e., ableism, racism) and explores how early literacy classrooms might be reimagined in ways that sustain multiply marginalized children’s identities and competencies.

Nicole Sorensen is a second-grade educator in Seattle. She identifies as Filipino American and is passionate about affirming the identities of her students. In collaboration with colleagues, she has led professional development to support educators in exploring how racial identity and white supremacy culture affect their teaching practices. She is thrilled to be extending her work from her master’s project, which focused on culturally sustaining literacy practices in early childhood.


Brittany L. Frieson is an assistant professor of literacy and Antiracist education at the University of North Texas. She is a former ESL and literacy teacher whose teaching and research focus on critical approaches to language and literacy practices of Black students and explore how Black Language speakers leverage linguistic artistry and flexibility in bilingual settings. Frieson is an NCTE Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color fellow, and her work appears in Race Ethnicity and Education, Bilingual Research Journal, and Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice.

Karisma Morton is an assistant professor of mathematics education at the University of North Texas. Her research explores racial inequality in mathematics education with a focus on the opportunities of children of Color to learn rigorous and relevant mathematics. In her work with elementary preservice teachers, she exposes and confronts biased and racist narratives about mathematics ability and highlights pedagogical stances and tools designed to promote equitable and humanizing math learning experiences for children.

Marin Woodard is a recent graduate of the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in education and a certification in special education. Woodard is a first-year fourth-grade math and science teacher in Denton ISD and is excited to show students that cultural diversity is for all people in all subjects. Woodard is excited to be a black woman in the STEM field and to be able to teach students that scientists and mathematicians can look like anyone.


Paty Abril-Gonzalez was a bilingual elementary school teacher predominantly for children of Mexican immigrants in Denver. She taught for seven years in the same school district where she learned English as a young child. Now, Abril-Gonzalez is an assistant professor in the Bilingual and Bicultural Education program at the University of Texas at Austin. She centers and listens to the spoken, written, and artistic testimonios of Latinx bilingual students, preservice teachers, and their families.

José Luis Perales attended a bilingual and bicultural teacher preparation program at the University of Texas at Austin. There, he recognized the importance of honoring his Mexican immigrant parents and reclaiming his Spanish language. Since 2013, Perales has become a bilingual first-grade teacher who elevates and supports his students’ culture and language. He works daily to create and implement culturally relevant lessons that positively impact students in regard to their overall identity.

2021–2023 PDCRT Co-Directors

“Currently, a global health and racial pandemic has shifted about every facet of our lives, especially the education profession. For this reason, it is ever more important that we continue to support teachers in their efforts to validate the social, cultural, linguistic, and heritage knowledge of children and their families as anti-Black, Latinx, and Asian racism is on the rise. Therefore, in our role, we hope to support dyads by working toward a common goal to maintain our commitments to children and their families. We desire to help and support dyads as they develop their commitment to decolonizing and humanizing culturally relevant teaching through this pivotal time in history. Additionally, we hope to develop a space where dyads can feel supported.”

Eliza G. Braden is an assistant professor of elementary education in the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education at the University of South Carolina. Eliza taught and served as a teacher for eight years at an elementary school in north Georgia. She is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Elementary Section Steering Committee, former chair of the Donald H. Graves Writing Award Committee, and a member of NCTE’s Affirmative Action Committee and the Early Childhood Education Assembly’s Anti-Racist Consultant Network. Her research interests include critical literacy and language practices of Black and Latinx children and their families, culturally relevant pedagogy, and critical multicultural children’s literature. Eliza’s work has been published in Journal of Children’s Literature, Teachers College Record, Talking Points, and Journal of Language and Literacy Education. She is the recipient of several awards, including the 2017 Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award from NCTE, the 2018 Early Literacy Educator of the Year Award from the Early Childhood Education Assembly of NCTE, and the University of South Carolina College of Education’s 2019 Early Career Teaching Award.

Valente’ Gibson is a fifth-grade teacher at Jackson Creek Elementary in Columbia, SC. In his role as a fifth-grade teacher, he focuses his research and teaching on racial and social justice education practices while working to promote equity in issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality. He has centered on Black and Brown students’ brilliance and their families as anti-racist pedagogy in his work. He holds Treasurer’s position with the Early Childhood Education Assembly and participated in the PDCRT (Professional Dyads and Culturally Relevant Teaching) Cohort. He received the 2019 Social Justice Award through the Early Childhood Education Assembly. He is serving on the Elementary Section Steering Committee and was awarded the 2020 NCTE Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award.