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Stephanie Frenel

“The yearlong project requires us to identify a problem and propose a solution, which is a very active approach to learning about the problems organizations and schools must face.”
GSE Program: 
MA program in Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies (POLS)
Age: 
26
Hometown: 
Brooklyn, NY and Drexel Hill, PA
Degree(s): 
MA in Teaching, Relay Graduate School of Education
BS in International Relations, Georgetown University

What were the highlights of your fall 2015 quarter in POLS?

In the fall 2015, my weekly highlight was during the time I spent in Ray McDermott’s class called Culture, Learning, and Poverty. I enjoyed this class because it really forced me to reflect on my experiences as a teacher and push my thinking about what is best for students.

The course demanded that I think about the ways in which dominant American culture, various pedagogical approaches and research have done more to further marginalize and bring more injustice to underserved groups than to help them. It discussed the ways in which our education system based on competition has led to many of the issues plaguing low-income students and students of color. Although this sounds depressing, the class did discuss ways in which schooling can be inclusive, which made me think about how to be deliberate about my approach to working with students in the future.

How about winter quarter?

I really enjoyed Gay Hoagland’s class called School-Based Decision Making. The class really gives both theoretical and practical knowledge on the ways in which school leaders have worked to create effective schools. The weekly speakers are all current principals, and their stories of their resilience and passion have been inspiring. Gay is also an amazing lecturer who really pushes us to realize that although there are specific factors that all school leaders must consider, there is not one correct way to create an effective and positive school culture.

Why did you decided to pursue a graduate degree in policy, organization and leadership studies?

I wanted a better understanding of different approaches to school leadership around the U.S. I wanted to learn more about the ways in which other K12 leaders were trying to address the achievement gap.

What were you doing prior to applying to the GSE?

Prior to Stanford, I worked in a charter school in Brooklyn, I was a first grade special education teacher in an integrated co-teaching classroom. Additionally, I was an instructional math coach and wrote all of the math lesson plans for the first grade classes.

Photo of Stephanie Frenel

Why Stanford?

I liked that the Stanford POLS program gave us the autonomy to choose a site on our own that we could explore for the end-of-year project. The yearlong project requires us to identify a problem and propose a solution, which is a very active approach to learning about the problems organizations and schools must face. Identifying problems and proposing site-specific solutions informed by research is very practical. It is a skill that will help me more than only shadowing a principal or writing a paper on current research.

What’s something fun that you do to relax?

I love working out. I am currently training for the San Francisco Half Marathon in April so I have been using running as a means to de-stress and relax.

I also love dancing. I took a dance class last quarter with Aleta Hayes called Liquid Flow. I really enjoyed learning new techniques and ways to use my body to convey meaning.

What are your career plans?

I plan to enter a role as a teacher leader or assistant principal in the Bay Area. I hope to eventually become an elementary school principal in the next few years.

This interview was conducted via email in February and March 2016.