By: Meghan Carlisle, Staff Writer
Before higher education, Dr. Larissa Malone taught preschool, early elementary, and became an administrator in a bilingual education center that was partnered with an urban school district.
Malone is an assistant professor in the Teacher Education Department, School of Education and Human Development at USM.
“I decided to return to graduate school to focus on social and cultural foundations, a branch of education that broadly examines the purpose and significance of schooling in society,” said Malone.
Her time as a professor was rewarding as her reach is much further than just the children in her classroom.
“I now can impact hundreds of children by teaching their teachers in a unique way because of my niche expertise,” said Malone.
Malone recently won the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation Envision Equity grant for $5,000 for Maine Black Educators Collective (MBEC). The mission of MBEC is to support black educators in the state of Maine through educational opportunities and social-emotional connections. MBEC was founded in response to the critical needs of black educators across Maine.
“I found out I was awarded in December and I was beyond thrilled!” said Malone.
Malone worked closely with the grant office here at USM. Their advice and guidance were appreciated by Malone, as they helped her with her grant writing process.
Last year, Malone received a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation under their response grant, Educators for Black Lives.
“With this grant, I began the Maine Black Educators Collective (MBEC). This current award is through the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation’s Envision Equity Grant and will enable me to deliver MBEC’s programming through the end of 2022,” said Malone.
She plans on using this grant to offer a series called ‘Teach-In/Work-Out.’ Malone says that this will allow educators to alternate between discussion forums and health and wellness sessions. This series will be held virtually which will allow people across Maine to attend.
Malone’s mission for this series is to support educators.
“Through this programming, I aim to support educators in anti-racist initiatives in their local classrooms while also prioritizing self-care during a time when educators are incredibly stressed,” said Malone.
Additionally, Malone gave a talk this prior weekend at Falmouth High School on Race and Education.
Her speech was modeled after TED Talks. She shared three stories that illustrated the prevalence of race and racism in schools. Each story she told from her life was based on the experiences of her three daughters.
“I am glad I rehearsed beforehand because telling my family’s stories was certainly more emotional than I expected!” said Malone.
Malone is a critical race theorist. She uses a practice called counter-storytelling in her research. Wanting to give voice to others’ experiences rather than her own.
Her research is centered around the minoritized experience in American Schooling. She is interested in how minority students, teachers, and their families navigate educational institutions.
“In the end, I am glad I allowed myself to be vulnerable in this way because my presentation allowed the audience to connect to my message in a meaningful and memorable way,” said Malone.