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Associate Professor

Associate Professor
Early, Elementary & Reading Education

Dr. Kara M. Kavanagh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Early, Elementary, and Reading Education at JMU. Her teaching and scholarship are focused on P-16 social justice-oriented education. She utilizes critical case analysis, drama based pedagogies, and an ethical reasoning in action framework as tools for teaching about and for social justice oriented education. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her wife, two sons, and a dog.

President, Virginia Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education

Co-Founder, The CARE (Creativity and Reading Education) Program

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D. Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Cognate: Teacher Development and Urban/Multicultural Education, Georgia State University
  • M.Ed. Early Childhood Education, Armstrong Atlantic State University (Now Georgia Southern)
  • B.A. Psychology, George Mason University

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Social Justice-Oriented Teacher Education
  • P-12 Social Justice-Oriented Education
  • Utilizing Drama Based Pedagogies as a tool and process for social justice education
  • Utilizing Critical Case Analysis as a tool and process for social justice education
  • Ethical Reasoning in Action as a tool and process for social justice education
  • Novice Teachers Navigating the Micropolitical Contexts of Urban Schools

Courses taught at JMU:

  • ELED 310/210 Diversity, Equity, and Justice in Elementary Education
  • ELED 310 Diversity in Elementary Education
  • ELED 641 Families, Schools, and Communities
  • ELED 501 Teaching Culturally, Linguistically, and Socioeconomically Diverse Students Using Community, Creativity, and Literacy
  • ELED 510 Creativity in Elementary Education

Selected publications

Brezicha, K., Kavanagh, K., Fisher-Ari, T. and Martin, A. (2022). “This school is killing my soul”: Threat Rigidity responses to high-stakes accountability policies. Urban Education https://doi.org/10.1177/00420859221081762.

Thacker, E., Williams, M., Jaffee, A.T., & Kavanagh, K. (2022). Interrupting microaggressions, bias, and injustice in social studies pre-service teachers’ field experiences. The Teacher Educators’ Journal

Streeter, J., Kavanagh, K., Thacker, E., & Bodle, A. (2022) Town Halls, Graffiti Walls, and Exploding Atoms: Dialogue, engagement, and perspective taking in online teacher education. The New Educator. https://doi.org/10.1080/1547688X.2021.1996668.

Kavanagh, K., Thacker, E., Williams, M., Merritt, J., Bodle, A., Jaffee, A. (2021) Disrupting microaggressions in P-16 schools: A facilitated workshop approach using critical case analysis. Multicultural Perspectives, 23(4), 232-240 https://doi.org/10.1080/15210960.2021.1979403

Fisher-Ari, T.R., Martin, A., Kavanagh, K. (2020). Unheard frequencies: Performing and reimagining the oppressive construct of time in urban schooling. Ubiquity: The Journal of Literature, Literacy, and the Arts, 7(2), p. 7-48.

Kavanagh, K. (2020). Bridging social justice-oriented theories to practice in teacher education utilizing ethical reasoning in action and case-based teaching in Courtney Clausen, Stephanie Logan, (ed.) Integrating Social Justice Education in Teacher Preparation Programs DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5098-4.ch009

Martin, A., Fisher-Ari, T.R. Kavanagh, K. (2020). “Our schools turned into literal police states.”: Disciplinary power and novice teachers enduring a cheating scandal. Educational Studies, 56(3), 306-329, DOI: 10.1080/00131946.2020.1745809

Kavanagh, K. & McCartney, H. (2018). James Madison University sowing the seeds of C.A.R.E. (Creativity and Reading Education) within the Harrisonburg refugee community in Enakshi Sengupta , Patrick Blessinger , (ed.) Refugee Education: Integration and Acceptance of Refugees in Mainstream Society (Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Volume 11) Emerald Publishing Limited, pp.157 – 170.

Kavanagh, K.M. & Fisher-Ari, T.R. (2018). Curricular and pedagogical oppression: Contradictions of the juggernaut accountability trap. Educational Policy, p.1-29. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0895904818755471

Kavanagh, K. M. (2018). Lost in Translation. Dilemmas in Education: A Casebook for Ethical Reasoning, 1 (1). Retrieved from http://commons.lib.jmu.edu/ethicalcasebook/vol1/iss1/3

Kavanagh, K., & Fisher-Ari, T. (2017). Constraints and negotiations: TFA, accountability, and scripted programs in urban schools. Perspectives in Urban Education, 14(1), p. 1-17.

Fisher-Ari, T., Kavanagh, K. & Martin, A. (2017). Sisyphean neoliberal reforms: The intractable mythology of student growth and achievement master narratives within the testing and TFA era. Journal of Education Policy, 32(3), p. 255-280. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2016.1247466

Fisher-Ari, T., Kavanagh, K. and Martin, A. (2016). Urban teachers struggling within and against neoliberal, accountability-era policies. Perspectives in Urban Education, 13(2), p. 1-13.

Kavanagh, K. & Dunn, A.H. (2013). The political spectacle of recruiting the best and the brightest. Critical Education, 4(11), 48-66. 4. Retrieved from http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/article/view/183941

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