Nicole Mirra, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Urban Teacher Education, is constantly striving to bring the two fields of literacy and youth civic engagement together in ways that bring about more social change and justice in classrooms and society. As she began her career teaching high school English in Brooklyn, New York, she was struck by the structures of inequity that were perpetuated in classrooms and was inspired to leverage critical literacy practices as a force to challenge them. Rather than focus on teaching content alone, Mirra believes that content should be used as a vehicle to teach students to lift their voices in public life. Propelled by her love of teaching young people, she now partners with youth as co-researchers in her work and co-designs studies focused on the issues they care about. She aims to shift conversations in the field of literacy to focus on civic engagement and change rather than merely skills and standardized testing. Mirra also incorporates digital media into her teaching and research to bring together students across the nation and open up conversations about the differences and commonalities that exist across U.S. communities.
Mirra pursued English during her undergraduate years and went on to receive two Master’s degrees in English Education and Education Policy. She later pursued her Ph.D. in Urban Schooling. In addition to engaging in research and teaching courses in English Education, Mirra works with the New York City Department of Education to analyze middle school debate programming. Mirra also participates in the National Writing Project (NWP), which works with teachers across the country to encourage civically engaged writing with young people. In partnership with NWP and Teachers College Press, she published a book on what it means to bring empathy into classrooms through a more critical and civic way. She considers her efforts with students to bring more equity and justice to civic life to be her life’s work.
• B.A. in English, New York University (2003)
• M.S.T. in Secondary English Education, Pace University (2005)
• M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management (2005)
• Ph.D. in Education, University of California, Los Angeles (2012)
• National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
• English Language Arts Teacher Educators (ELATE)
• Studies in Literacy and Multimedia Assembly (SLAM)
• Standing Committee on Research
• Editorial Board Member of English Journal and Research in the Teaching of English
• American Educational Research Association
• National Writing Project
• Literacy Research Association
Recent & Selected Publications
Mirra, N. (2019). From connected learning to connected teaching: Toward a new vision for technology in English teacher education. English Education, 51(3), 261-291.
Mirra, N. (2018). Educating for empathy: Literacy learning and civic engagement. New York: Teachers College Press.
Mirra, N., Coffey, J., & Englander, A. (2018). Warrior scholars and bridge builders: Civic dreaming in ELA classes. Journal of Literacy Research, 50(4), 423-445.
Mirra, N., Morrell, E., & Filipiak, D. (2018). From digital consumption to digital invention: Toward a new critical theory of multiliteracies. Theory into Practice, 57(1), 12-19.
Mirra, N. & Garcia, A. (2017). Civic participation re-imagined: Youth interrogation and innovation in the multimodal public sphere. Review of Research in Education, 41, 136-158.
Honors & Awards
Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research from the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research, 2020.
Early Career Scholar Award from the Grassroots Community & Youth Organizing Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association, 2019.
National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018-2019.
UCLA Chancellor’s Prize, 2011.
Helen and Alexander Astin Fellowship, 2010.
Harvard Urban Scholars Fellowship, 2007-2008.
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