Emily Ward is a Ph.D. candidate in Education and Social Justice and associate member of the Centre for Well-being and Social Justice in the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University, an institution ranked in the UK top 10. Her mixed-methods doctoral research, which focused on equitable assessment practices, was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Assessing Writing. In September, she will defend her dissertation, which analyzed 439 high school students’ perceptions of stress, self-worth protection behaviors, and academic achievement during high-stakes assessment. In this way, her research reveals her commitment to data-driven results for creating psycho-emotionally healthy learning environments that allow all students to succeed.
Emily’s passion for equity and education was ignited by her childhood experiences in HUD housing with a single mother in Orange County, California, where one in four children grow up in poverty. A product of public schools and a first-generation college student, Emily graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature and M.A. in English Composition. Her early equity work included working for two organizations that support students from under-served communities: THINK Together, a non-profit organization that uses research-based practices to help children on the path to college and career readiness, and the Educational Opportunity Program at San Francisco State University (SFSU), which supports access and retention for low-income, first-generation college students. She cares deeply about the impact of trauma and stress of poverty, violence, and neglect on learning, behavior, and relationships as well as strategies to improve outcomes.
Before APS, Emily had a ten-year career at an independent high school in Southern California, where she also served as a Cross-Curricular Facilitator for Writing Instruction, Writing Center Director, and English teacher, leading honors and on-level scholars through an SEL-integrated American literature course that centered marginalized voices and critically examined race and class. Deeply conflicted about the role of independent schools in furthering inequities, she enrolled in Harvard’s School Management and Leadership Certification program and actively sought to serve in the Center for Equity and Social Justice at Atlanta Public Schools.
Fun Fact: Emily recently drove from California to Georgia in her Prius with one dog, three cats, and two dwarf rabbits.