Angela Allen: Continuing a family legacy

Angela Allen, a doctoral candidate in the Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Urban Services Leadership program.
Angela Allen

Angela Allen was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where her family taught her that education is liberation and a path of upward mobility. She earned her bachelor's degree from Hampton University, her master's degree from Syracuse University, and expects to receive her Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Urban Services Leadership from the VCU School of Education in 2021.

What drew you to the field of education?

My mother was very influential in my focus on the field of education. Though it was her desire, she did not receive the necessary familial or financial support to attend college. As a result, she made sure that my siblings and I knew our non-negotiable academic progression was from K-12 to higher education. While modeling self-directed learning as a form of resilience, she worked hard to receive awards, recognitions and promotions at work. She committed her financial awards to educational experiences for her children that would enrich academic and social development. My mother celebrated with my six siblings and me as we all secured degrees in higher education. Shortly after that, we would celebrate with her when she was awarded her bachelor's degree in English.

I entered math education because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who saw the mastery of math as unrealistic. Along this journey, I began to intentionally teach my students about self-directed learning and taking ownership of their education. To date, my passion is promoting the development of lifelong learning across the lifespan.

What were you doing prior to applying to the VCU School of Education?

As a math educator, I was enjoying roles as department chair, school leadership team member and new teacher mentor. I was considering new avenues in my education career, resulting in my application to the School of Education. I began attending VCU while working as a math teacher for Henrico County Public Schools. I currently work as Title I Math support for Richmond Public Schools. I coach teachers on a range of instructional strategies to increase student achievement and support students in need of math intervention.

Why did you decide to pursue a doctoral degree in Urban Services Leadership?

Transitioning from curriculum design for students in the K-12 environment to curriculum design for adult learners was a natural progression. I chose SOE’s Urban Services Leadership program to foster the development of my leadership skills to support adult learners in public service. The program enables me to leverage my work in the K-12 environment across the lifespan to design and evaluate educational programs and instructional materials for adult learners in schools, organizations and companies.

"I chose SOE’s Urban Services Leadership program to foster the development of my leadership skills to support adult learners in public service."

My specific research interest is the learning and development of historically underrepresented groups in the green workforce. These learned experiences can inform curriculum development and implementation for jobs that support environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Furthermore, this research can inform curriculum design in K-12 environments with large concentrations of historically underrepresented students who have the potential to minimize the staffing shortage in sustainability careers.

What were the highlights from your most recent semester?

A highlight of my most recent semester was receiving the John A. Van de Walle Scholarship. Dr. Van de Walle was a renowned math educator who taught mathematics education to SOE students. I use Dr. Van de Walle's work when supporting teachers in designing student-centered stations and previously used his resources for classroom instruction. I felt honored to receive this scholarship established by a late professor whose work I have used over my 14 years in math education. This honor recognized my personal and professional coaching efforts, as well as solidifying the resource as a teaching tool.

What do you plan to do after earning your doctoral degree?

I intend to transition into a leadership position where I can have a broader influence on addressing the diverse needs of adult learners. Earning this doctoral degree will be a continuation of my family's legacy of being champions of education for liberation and as a path of upward mobility for all.