2021 AIESEP Young Scholars (3): Mara Simon

Mara Simon is an assistant professor in the department of physical education and health education at Springfield College in Springfield, MA, USA.  Mara’s young scholar award nomination came from Professor Laura Azzarito, who supervised her dissertation work, leading to a degree in education from Teachers College Columbia University. Mara’s dissertation research focused on the embodied identities of female PE teachers of color working in predominantly white schools. The work from this dissertation was honored with the Larry F. Locke graduate student award at the AERA 2016 international meeting. Her current research explores the narratives and lived experiences of pre-service teachers of color who are enrolled in predominantly white PETE programs as well as how themes and ideas of culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies could be utilized within PETE programs to disrupt whiteness and sustain a social justice agenda. Research from her current project was honored with NAKHE’s Hally Beth Poindexter Young Scholar award in 2020. She recently co-authored ‘Race Talk in White Schools: Re-centering Teachers of Color’ published by Lexington. Mara is passionate about working for social justice, particularly related to issues of racial inequity within PE. At the 2021 AIESEP World Congress, Mara will give a presentation titled “Two different worlds: Black and Latinx conceptualizations of culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies.” In this presentation, Mara will explore what culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies could mean and look like in PE and PE teacher education (PETE) from the stories and narratives of Black and Latinx pre-service PE teachers enrolled in predominantly white PETE programs. For her future work with AIESEP, Mara believes that “as an organization, we need to think critically about and actively work to increase global representation that is not only from white scholars and educators; [we need to] focus on social justice work, particularly on racism and whiteness embedded within PE and PE teacher education, I am hopeful that I can make an impactful contribution to the organization with regards to racial diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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