Routinely Recognized For Research and Service: 13 Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration Students and Alumni Honored

The Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration at Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) held an Honoree Dinner to celebrate the achievements of 13 current students and alumni who have received prestigious awards over the last four years. The honorees, their families, and colleagues joined invited GSE faculty and staff at the Zimmerli Art Museum on February 5 for a private tour of the museum and a reception. The night began with welcoming remarks from Dr. William Firestone, Distinguished Professor at the GSE and Dr. Wanda J. Blanchett, Dean of the GSE and Distinguished Professor.

Seven current students received recognition for their outstanding achievements. Kevin Clay (2015), Atiya Strothers (2015), and (Shelley) Wu Yi-Jung (2014) were recognized as Barbara Jackson Scholars. The University Council of Education Administration (UCEA) Barbara Jackson Scholar program develops future faculty of color for the field of education leadership and policy. Jason Murphy (2015), Amanda Dillon (2014), Kevin Crouse (2014), (Shelley) Wu Yi-Jung (2013), and Sally Bonet (2011) were recognized for receiving the David L. Clark Fellowship. The David L. Clark Fellowship is a partnership between UCEA and the American Education Research Association that provides professional development to graduate students with great potential of becoming leading scholars in educational leadership and policy.  Sally Bonet was acknowledged for receiving the 2014 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, which provides a stipend of $21,000 for doctoral candidates in their final year of dissertation writing.

Six alumni, Dr. Margaret Hayes (2014), Dr. Rachel Pereira (2014), Dr. Christopher Manno (2013), Dr. Raymond Gonzalez (2013), Dr. Samuel Fancera (2012), and Dr. Thomas Tramaglini (2012), were recognized for receiving the Excellence in Education Leadership Award.  This award is given out by UCEA to acknowledge significant contributions to the improvement of administrator preparation.

The Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration (ETPA) strives to help New Jersey educators understand the social context in which education takes place. Since 1986, ETPA has worked to achieve many objectives including preparing educational leaders to be proficient, conducting research to advance educational practice, and serving the people of New Jersey.

“We are especially gratified to honor our students and alumni who continue their pursuit of excellence in the larger educational community,” said Dr. James Giarelli, ETPA Department Chair and Professor at the GSE. “I’m confident GSE students and alumni will continue to strive towards educational excellence through collaborative research and practice.”


Below you will find biographies for all of the honorees:


Barbara Jackson Scholars

Kevin Clay is a doctoral fellow in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, where his path of study involves intersectional issues of educational equity. A regular contributor to The Root, Kevin has held advisement and instructional roles for pre-college access programs catering to urban high school students in both East Orange and Trenton, NJ. Kevin is entering his fifth semester as an instructor for the Rutgers GSE course: Individual and Cultural Diversity. His research deals with youth civic engagement and racial identity development within the context of an urban youth participatory action research project. He is also broadly interested in the disparate impact of social policies in African American communities.

In 2014 Kevin became a Barbara Jackson scholar and Professional Leadership Development Institute Fellow. He presented his paper called Dealing with Internalized Racism in Urban Teaching: A Case Study of White Pre-service Teachers at the annual University Council for Educational Administration Conference. He conducted this research as a graduate assistant to Dr. Thea Abu El-Haj and Dr. Beth Rubin.

Kevin and his colleague Mara Hughes began conducting anti-oppression workshops for teachers and students after several semesters as instructors of the same graduate course on diversity for pre-service teachers at Rutgers. Their other workshops for young people and adults focus on anti-racist and anti-sexist theory, research, and practice.


Atiya Strothers, is a third year Ph.D. Candidate. She is interested in the social, political, and institutional influences on educational equity and the experiences of marginalized students and faculty in higher education. Her dissertation will explore several themes related to leadership, mentoring, equity, and access through the lens of Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor, a historic theologian and educator.

Atiya has presented research at national conferences such as: AERA, ASHE, PERA, AABHE and ASALH. She was also recently featured in the leading higher education newsmagazine—Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and has a forthcoming book chapter titled “White Faces in Black Places: HBCUs and the White Faculty Experience”. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and is actively involved in her home church. She LOVES teaching future educators around the topic of equity in hopes to create future agents of change.


David L. Clark Fellows

Jason Murphy is currently a doctoral candidate in the Theory, Organization, and Policy program, and an instructor of Introduction to Education.  Jason has an Ed.M. in the Social & Philosophical Foundations of Education from the Graduate School of Education here at Rutgers University and has, with much support from faculty and his “graduate student family” at the GSE, recently completed his qualifying exam. Before becoming a graduate student, Jason was both a pre-school teacher and a high school social studies teacher.

His current research investigates the intersections of anti-bullying policy, school culture and politics, and the experiences of queer persons in schools. He has co-authored publications in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education and the Texas Education Review. He has also presented research at the annual conferences of the History of Education Society, the University Council for Educational Administration, and the American Educational Research Association – as well as in the GSE’s own Brownbag Lecture Series.


Kevin Crouse is a doctoral student in the Theory, Organization, and Policy program focusing on organizational change relating to teaching quality.  Formerly a computer developer for The Genome Institute in Saint Louis, MO, Kevin initially decided to shift focus to education research to better understand how social and political structures impede and facilitate educational organizational change at scale.  As he learned more about educational theory and existing research in schooling, he revised his research interest to focus on how policy and school context combine to impact teaching quality, especially in the context of new teacher evaluation systems.

Kevin has developed a research background in multiple and mixed methodologies. Some projects include a policy analysis of Race to the Top funded teacher evaluation systems, an analysis of the likely impacts of the aggregation of teacher evaluation measures, an ethnography in a low-fee Indian school, a technological intervention in vocabulary instruction, and youth participatory action research in an urban school system.  He has given presentations at national research conferences that include AERA and the Comparative and International Education Society meeting and is an editor for the Mid-Atlantic Education Review, a peer-reviewed journal at the GSE.  He is also co-designing and co-teaching a methodological survey course for early career graduate students. His dissertation research will be a mixed-methods project to better understand the organizational impacts of new teacher evaluation policy, including the relationship between how they are affecting school personnel and the ways in which data emerging from the evaluations are used to drive decision-making.


Amanda Dillon is a Doctoral Candidate studying the influence of Race to the Top and accountability based reform on social justice educators and education.  Amanda’s research interest stems from her personal experience as a global history teacher in a New York City public school, where she taught for two years prior to coming to Rutgers.  Amanda currently teaches middle school humanities at an independent school in Hoboken, NJ.  Previously, Amanda spent eight semesters teaching Introduction to Education at the Graduate School of Education as a teaching assistant. 


Shelley Yi-Jung Wu earned her BA and MA in Political Science at Tunghai University in Taiwan. She was a high school social studies teacher and translated a top-tier political science text- “Referendums around the World: The Growing Use of Direct Democracy” by Butler and Ranney (1994). She has four years of experience working at the Ministry of Education in Taiwan with high-ranking policy makers and international distinguished scholars, which later earned her a scholarship for graduate studies in the United States.

Wu’s dissertation applies diaspora as a theoretical framework to understand 11 Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant family college-preparation experiences. The purpose of her ethnographic work is to conduct a cultural analysis of how immigrant parents and their second-generation children navigate the complex U.S. college admission system and negotiate their matriculation decision-making. Wu’s pilot study work was published in Anthropology News (2012). She presented some of her preliminary findings in the Teachers College, Columbia University Seminar (2013), and American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting (2013 and 2014). Wu is currently in the data analysis and writing stages of her dissertation.


Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship

Sally Bonet is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Theory, Organization, and Policy program under the advisement of Dr. Thea Abu El-Haj.  Before beginning her doctoral work, Bonet taught at the K-12 level, both in the Arab world as well as the U.S., for eight years.  Bonet is currently writing up her dissertation, “Where Are the Promises of America?”: Citizenship Education and Refugee Families, a three year ethnographic study which explores the ways in which recently resettled Iraqi refugees are self-making and being made into particular kinds of citizens through their encounters with state institutions such as schools, welfare offices, free health clinics and courts.  Bonet’s research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Review of Research in Education and The High School Journal, and has been regularly presented at the annual meetings of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) Council on Anthropology and Education (CAE).  Bonet’s commitment to education comes from her mother, Elham Sadek, an educator who instilled in her children a love of books and learning at a young age.


Excellence in Education Leadership Award

Dr. Margaret W. Hayes, has over 30 years of experience as a school administrator, having served as a dean of a K-12 independent school, public school district supervisor, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent, in addition to ten years as a teacher.  In these roles she has collaborated with colleagues both within district and in wider communities of practice on school leadership.  Dr. Hayes was a founding member of the Principals’ Center for the Garden State, and served on their Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2000.  Through the Panasonic Foundation’s New Jersey Network of Superintendents founded in 2008, she partners with colleagues working to achieve excellence and equity for their districts’ students and similarly is part of the National Superintendents’ Roundtable founded in 2007.  Dr. Hayes has served as Superintendent of Schools for the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Regional School District since 2006, where she has worked with administrators and teachers to create an integrated preschool program, the I2 – Innovation and Imagination extended day program, middle school schedule refinements increasing language arts literacy instruction using technology and incorporating an innovative problem-based Math Explorations course, service learning and global perspectives initiatives.  The College Board has recognized the district for expanding participation and increasing performance in their Advanced Placement program.  Dr. Hayes collaborates closely with administrators and supervisors, providing support and modeling best practices, as she strives to identify leadership potential and develop the skills and habits of mind that will help others succeed as school leaders. 


Dr. Rachel Pereira, a native of Queens, New York, and former classroom teacher and school principal, serves as an Assistant District Attorney as the Director of Truancy Prevention at the Philadelphia District Attorney Office.  Pereira holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Rachel holds an Ed.D. and M.S. from Rutgers University in educational leadership and administration, and a B.A. from Hunter College.  

Rachel’s most recent research interests include the development of the Higher Education Act and the subsequent re authorizations of the Act.  Additionally, Pereira has recently published an article in the University of Pennsylvania Constitutional Law Journal on the federal judiciary’s response to school desegregation orders since the Supreme Court’s decision in Parents Involved.


Dr. Raymond A. Gonzalez is a dedicated career educator with a successful track record of school and district-level administrative experience.  Prior to joining the Westwood Regional School District as the Chief School Administrator, Gonzalez was the Superintendent in Wayne Township and also the Interim Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Hackensack Public Schools.

For the Paterson School system, he served as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction and Special Education, as well as Director of Assessment, Planning, and Evaluation. Gonzalez was also the Principal of the Berkeley Elementary School in Westwood and a school teacher in Paterson.

His academic research interests and accomplishments can be seen in his publications and presentations:

  • “Educational Tug-of-War: Internal and external accountability of principals in varied contexts”, published in the 2013 Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 51 Iss: 3
  • “Principal Perceptions of Accountability,” presented to the University Council for Educational Administration in 2011
  • “Culture and Processes Affecting Data Use in School Districts,” published in the 2007 Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Vol. 106 Iss: 1


Dr. Christopher M. Manno, Superintendent of Schools, BCIT/BCSSSD, Burlington County, NJ, graduated from Trenton State College in 1990 with a BA in Math. While he enjoyed working with children his entire life, he began his formal career in education in Hillsborough, NJ teaching math and coaching. Chris quickly became interested in school leadership. He earned a Masters Education degree in Math in 1994 and another in Education Leadership in 1998. Chris continued his studies and earned his Education Doctorate in Administration and Supervision from Rutgers University in 2005.

Dr. Manno has published on various topics in education. Chris formally entered the field of education leadership as a Supervisor of Math in Westfield, NJ in 1997. Shortly thereafter, he became a Director of C/I and then the Assistant Superintendent in Montgomery Township, NJ. Dr. Manno assumed the role of Superintendent in Burlington Township in 2005, where he worked with a team to implement the All Students Achieving Plan, a comprehensive, data-driven, values-mission-vision-based, plan to improve student achievement. Chris assumed the role of Superintendent of Schools for the Burlington County Special Services School District and Burlington County Institutes of Technology in January 2014. Dr. Manno teaches graduate courses in school leadership for various colleges, including a Doctoral Education leadership program at Rutgers University. Dr. Manno is a Past President of the Burlington County Association of School Administrators and was named Burlington County Superintendent of the Year in 2012, NJ Central Region Superintendent of the Year, and the State of NJ Superintendent of the Year in 2013. Dr. Manno was “profiled” in the March, 2014 AASA publication of School Administrator. 

Chris has served on the Board of Advisers for the Burlington YMCA, the Board of Directors for the Burlington Township Food Pantry, the Burlington Township Dollars for Scholars Committee, and as a Burlington Rotarian. Chris and his family live in Burlington Township are proud Burlington Township Falcons!


Dr. Samuel Fancera is a two-time graduate of the Educational Administration & Supervision program in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration in the Rutgers GSE (Ed.M., 2005 & Ed.D., 2009). He has served as an elementary school principal in the Woodbridge Township School District since August 2008 in three of the district’s 16 elementary schools. Prior to the principalship, Dr. Fancera served for two years as a high school science department supervisor after beginning his career in education as a science teacher at both the middle and high school levels. In 2011, Dr. Fancera published work he conducted while a doctoral student at Rutgers with his dissertation chair, Dr. James R. Bliss, in the peer-reviewed journal Leadership and Policy in Schools. In this study, Dr. Fancera examined the influence of principal instructional leadership on collective teacher efficacy to improve student achievement. He remains interested in studying predictors of student and school outcomes, particularly those that school leaders may directly influence. In 2012, the Rutgers GSE faculty nominated Dr. Fancera to receive the UCEA Excellence in Educational Leadership Award. He has remained active in preparing future school leaders through teaching courses and serving on dissertation committees in the Educational Leadership program at Rutgers.


Dr. Tom Tramaglini is an enthusiastic and idealistic person who currently serves as the PreK-12 Chief Academic Officer of the Keansburg School District as well as a part time lecturer in the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. Previously, Tom was a middle and high school teacher, as well as a building and district administrator. 

Dr. Tramaglini is deeply committed to developing and leading educational organizations that promote equity, access, and achievement for all students, specifically those who live in high poverty areas.  His body of work has demonstrated that regardless of the barrier or environment, ALL students can learn and achieve at high levels. 

Outside of teaching and leading, Tom is actively engaged in several professional organizations, including leadership positions in ASCD and the Tracking and Detracking SIG at AERA.  Dr. Tramaglini also served as the President of New Jersey ASCD from 2010-2012.  He has over two-dozen publications in the form of articles, national and statewide conference papers/presentations, and a book chapter (in press).  Tom’s work is aimed at contributing to research on how district and school leaders can set organizational conditions for successful student and community outcomes (e.g., assessment, tracking and detracking, curriculum design and development, and professional development).

Some of Dr. Tramaglini’s honors include the 2012 UCEA Excellence in Educational Leadership Award, the 2013 New Jersey Outstanding Educator Award, and ASCD Emerging Leader.

Dr. Tramaglini holds a B.A. in History and Secondary Education from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  At FDU-Madison, Tom was a 4-year letter winner in Football.  He received both his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Educational Administration from Rutgers University. Tom resides in Tinton Falls, New Jersey with his wife Heather and their two children, Nicholas and Alexis.



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