Tehani Collazo '91 wasn't planning to become the University's director of education outreach when she traveled to Massachusetts in August for her 20-year high school reunion. But while visiting friends in Providence, Collazo - who lives in Washington, D.C., and is finishing a dissertation in educational studies at the University of Michigan - read about the position on Brown's Human Resources Web site and thought, "This would be the perfect job," she said in an interview with The Herald.
An educational studies concentrator while at Brown, Collazo will return to campus on Nov. 19 to support the University's efforts to help Providence public schools.
Collazo's experience working with Washington public schools and institutions like the Smithsonian Institution made her the best candidate for the position, said Kenneth Wong, professor of education and chair of the department. In Washington, Collazo worked for the Smithsonian for about five years, managing educational programs such as writing workshops with published authors for students from city public schools. As a manager at the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, Collazo ran a program in which ninth-graders at a city school worked with Smithsonian editors and curators to make museum exhibitions.
The University received around 40 applications for the position, Wong said. The selection committee, which included Assistant to the President Marisa Quinn and Roger Nozaki, associate dean of the College and director of the Swearer Center for Public Service, narrowed the pool down to 10 applicants, from which they picked four to interview. Two of those candidates were invited to present to the committee, faculty and staff of the education department and a representative from the office of Mayor David Cicilline '83.
"Tehani has some good ideas about how Brown can bring its resources to bear to offer services at the Providence public schools based on her own studies and her own experiences," Quinn said. The president's office funds half of the position of director of education outreach, while the Urban Education Policy program in the Department of Education funds the other half.
Nozaki said Collazo's job at the Smithsonian is similar to her new position at Brown because she will be working for an institution in a larger community. Stacey Jordan, the director of education policy at Cicilline's office who attended Collazo's presentation, said Collazo's "appreciation for children" and experience working with the Smithsonian would serve her well in her new position.
Collazo will replace Lamont Gordon '93, Brown's first director of education outreach, who left his post in August to complete an education dissertation at Harvard. When she comes to campus, Collazo said she plans "to spend a lot of time talking to people" both at Brown and in Providence schools to learn about the programs Brown already has, especially with area arts institutions. She also said she hopes to create programs that directly benefit Providence schools, such as writing workshops for students and teachers.
"We're in a good position to develop programs, to build on the information that has been gathered," she said.
Before leaving his post, Gordon collected and posted information about all the programs the University currently conducts with Providence schools on a University Web site. He also supported the Urban Education Policy program for graduate students, a job Collazo will continue to do.
Collazo said she wants to work at all levels of the Providence education system, from administrative office to classroom. "I think it's important that young people actually see someone from Brown working with teachers," she said.
While at Brown, Collazo was a Minority Peer Counselor, a programmer at the Third World Center and a co-chair of the Latin American Students Organization. Collazo said she is looking forward to coming back to campus. "It's what's motivating me to get through the last pages of my (300-page) dissertation," about Salvadorean high-school students in Washington, she said.