Manya Whitaker, PhD

Associate Professor and Chair of Education at Colorado College

I am an Associate Professor and Chair of Education at Colorado College. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Dartmouth College prior to obtaining a Master of Education in Leadership, Policy, and Organization, a Master of Science in Psychology, and a Doctorate in Psychology from Vanderbilt University.  From Montessori school, through the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, to the Ivy League, I spent my entire P-20 career as “the only”. I was the only Black girl, the only one from public school, the only one whose parents aren’t financially supporting them, and now, only the fourth Black woman to ever be tenured at Colorado College, which ranks #2 in the country for having the most students from the top 1%.

But those aren’t the only kids in my classes. As an education professor, I teach the kids who don’t feel as if they “fit” in other disciplines. My students are the ones whose K-12 experiences taught them that the system is broken, especially for working class, first generation kids who want the opportunity to attend an elite private liberal arts college with a $70,000 annual price tag.  These students, be them education majors/minors or not, are ‘my kids’ because in this space, in this sociopolitical climate, they need me. 

 Like most women of color faculty, I spend enormous amounts of time trying to undo the socioemotional harm that continues to be inflicted upon marginalized students  by a society that glosses over, ignores, or outright rejects their humanity. I wipe tears, listen to rants, and allay fears that they are not enough. This is tough work mostly because I am one person working against a lifelong narrative of neglect, experienced largely at the hands of an oppressive education system that if anything, is worse in higher education.

I recognize that my ability to reform education is minimal. But as a teacher educator I can do my part to challenge those pursuing a career in education to examine their motivations, be honest about their skillset, and to encourage them to view teaching as a political act through courses such as Urban Education, Diversity & Equity in Education, and Teacher and Teaching Identities, among others. I research the stability of teachers’ diversity-related belief systems across time and settings, and how those beliefs can be intentionally disrupted and re-structured through teacher training. I am the proud author of Schooling Multicultural Teachers: A Guide for Program Assessment and Professional Development, Learning from the Inside-Out: Child Development and School Choice and co-editor of Counternarratives from Women of Color Academics.  I am also the founder of Blueprint Educational Strategies, an education consulting business. 


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