Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Michelle Macchia

Dr. Michelle Macchia is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Partnership Leader in the GSE’s Community School Partnership Network (GSE-CSPN). Dr. Macchia joined the GSE faculty in September and has already made valuable contributions to the school community.

In her undergraduate studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, as the first person in her family to obtain a four-year degree, Dr. Macchia studied French and Linguistics because she thought that she wanted to pursue a career as an Ambassador or a translator. She eventually realized that teaching was her calling. One year into a two-year private school teaching fellowship after college, she decided that she wanted to pursue a graduate degree in education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. After earning a master’s in educational administration, she taught in the public school system because she wanted to help students in school districts that needed the most support. Dr. Macchia is a proud GSE alum – she attained her Ed.D. in Teacher Leadership here at Rutgers GSE.

Prior to joining the GSE faculty, Dr. Macchia was a Senior Educational Consultant and Project Lead at Teaching Matters in New York where she led elementary teachers in deepening their content and pedagogical knowledge of how to teach children to read and write. “I liked [my position] a lot because it allowed me to go around to all these different schools to actually see what was going on… I was able to compare and contrast different classrooms, schools, grade levels, and teachers. From the data I gathered, I knew there was a gap that needed to be filled, so I aimed to fill it.”

In her current role at the GSE, Dr. Macchia is a GSE Community School Partnership Network Leader in Rahway, New Jersey. She also currently teaches the course Literacy Development in the Early Years at the GSE. As a GSE-CSPN leader, Dr. Macchia works with teachers to ensure that they are equipped with the tools and resources they need to be effective teachers of literacy. “My hope is that my teachings and my guidance will create a ripple effect that positively impacts children and their communities…” Dr. Macchia aims to educate and guide teachers of the present and future as well as influence the policies that impact teacher practice, specifically those that impact students’ early literacy achievement. One of her goals in educating pre-service teachers is to break the cycle of pre-disposed narratives about students of color that are present in classrooms. “So, my work in these areas is to help break down and fix up the often biased, preconceived notions [about students of color] that we [educators] carry with us, because these stories are not complete, not accurate. And we as a society can do better.”

In addition to the work she does at the GSE, Dr. Macchia recently finished a co-authored chapter to be included in a book titled Race, Work, and Leadership in the 21st Century: Learning About and From Black Experience, which will be published this coming fall. The chapter uses real-life scenarios to illustrate the challenges of “working while black” in environments where there is often a reluctance to learning with and from black instructional coaches. Dr. Macchia will also be hosting a conference in mid-March titled Still I Rise: Celebrating Black Female Leaders in P-12 Education. The conference will affirm and raise awareness of the contributions of black female leaders in education and invite participants to consider new strategies for increasing the number of black teacher candidates.

Dr. Macchia’s commitment to providing support and guidance to her students and teachers in her partnership district promotes the GSE’s mission of Advancing Excellence and Equity in Education. She is excited that her role at the GSE provides her with a platform to apply research and informed theory to active schools and classrooms. In the future, Dr. Macchia looks forward to growing her relationship with her students and partnership district schools in order to help them provide the highest quality education for students.