ABOUT F.R.E.E.

Our Story

Photo: Lower East Side, NYC, by Vivienne Gucwa

We are at home, in our children's schools, in our classrooms, out in our communities, thinking the same thing - how can we liberate our children's education? How can we create schools for our communities that reflect our own teaching ideals? Most of us began teaching long before our journeys into parenthood.  When we entered the classroom in this new role of parent, we often experienced what we had seen in our own work and research -  the way caregivers can be put down, shut out, and how schools are still (even in our "liberal" city) perpetuating structures of colonialism and oppression, especially for our children of color in lower-income communities. We found that as educators, we were often able to find online resources for curriculum development, school programming, and academic tasks. However, we found very little, if anything, focused on family advocacy and families as a central part of young people's education, especially in conversations that are critical of systems of power of privilege. 

We started this site as a space for families to collect, share, and grow our resources, understanding, and use of education that is anti-racist, anti-bias, inclusive, radical and multilingual with other families. This site is for all families, and we welcome your contributions, questions, and feedback in this process. 

Who are we? 

Heather Homonoff Woodley, PhD is a teacher-educator, researcher, writer, and mother. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor of TESOL and Bilingual Education in the Department of Teaching & Learning at NYU Steinhardt and co-director of the program in Childhood Education. Her teaching and research focus on meeting the needs of, and empowering emergent bilinguals and their families, particularly Muslim immigrant youth who speak less common languages, and supporting teachers to create inclusive, anti-racist, and creative classrooms. Heather was a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco, and earned her PhD in Urban Education at The Graduate Center, City University of New York . She was recently a Research Assistant with the City University of New York – New York State Initiative for Emergent Bilinguals (CUNY-NYSIEB). Prior to this, she taught middle and high school TESOL and ELA in the Bronx and Washington, DC, and was a teacher-educator at City College, CUNY and with the NYC and DC Teaching Fellows. Heather serves on the national planning committee for Free Minds, Free People, a conference of education for liberation, is a regional delegate for NYSABE (NY State Association for Bilingual Education), and parent in Mount Vernon, NY public schools

Ayanna Taylor is a wife, mother, and stepmother who started her career as a middle school English-Language Arts teacher in Paterson, NJ.  She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor of English Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU SteinhardtHer commitment to education as a profession is a deeply journey because her mother, an immigrant, made sacrifices to ensure she had the best education she could afford.  Guided by the values of honesty, compassion, and curiosity, Ayanna has built a life around connecting people to the resources they need to turn their passion into meaningful work.

 

As a teacher, teacher educator, entrepreneur and community volunteer,  Ayanna has worked with a diverse group of people to acquire the knowledge and  develop habits and mindsets needed to achieve their greatest potential. Ayanna is skilled in consulting, coaching, strategic  thinking, program design, and program implementation. Ayanna’s background includes roles in K-12, higher education, corporate, non-profit, and  entrepreneurial settings.

María R. Brea, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an educator, writer, photographer, and mother. She is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and Spanish-English bilingual and biliterate. She graduated with an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Cognitive Neural Sciences and a minor in Language Science from the University of South Florida’s Department of Psychology. Prior to obtaining her doctorate, she practiced as a bilingual, certified Speech-Language Pathologist in school-based and pediatric settings and was employed as a Clinical Instructor responsible for training and supervising graduate students in Speech-Language Pathology with varying levels of expertise. María joined the faculty in the Communicative Sciences and Disorders Department at NYU Steinhardt in September of 2017 as the Director of a new Bilingual Extension Certificate Program for Speech-Language Pathologists. Her areas of interest include: The impact of strategic writing instructional approaches on children’s oral and written language, differential diagnosis of language learning disabilities in bilinguals, and the influence of multicultural funds of knowledge on family literacy practices. At NYU Steinhardt, she is the faculty advisor for a student organization called the Bilingual Language and Literacy Investigative and Networking Group (BLLING) whose focus is to promote cultural competence and knowledge of bilingualism and literacy practices through Research, Education, and Community Outreach.

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