Research Interests Lead to UDM:

Sheketa McKisick

Highlighter & Laureate, Summer 2002 issue

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With a desire to teach in an urban environment and to work with a non-traditional student population, last year Sheketa McKisick joined UDM's College of Education & Human Services as an assistant professor of Education.

Originally from Arkansas, McKisick is interested in examining whether urban schools face the same problems as rural schools. A recipient of the Holmes Partnership Scholarship at the University of Arkansas from 1995-1999, she was supported by the Holmes Group, comprised of faculty members and theoreticians looking at how best to prepare teachers for the classroom from a theoretical and research perspective.

"I am interested in researching how teachers manage the classroom--the differences between experienced pre-service teachers versus younger teachers," says McKisick. "Our teachers in the certification program are in their 30s and 40s, not 22-year-olds who go to high school then only have four or five years of college. Our students have the advantage of life experience."

McKisick earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in English Education and her Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in Curriculum and Instruction.

McKisick's current research also focuses on the issue of interracial harmony, examining how teachers are prepared to work in culturally diverse settings. "The teaching population is primarily white and primarily female," she says. "How do we prepare teachers to meet a different student population? What are their preconceived notions?"

In the classroom, she describes herself as "hands-on. I am available to my students," she says. "I draw on theoretical as well as my practical experiences during my time as a secondary teacher."

McKisick only recently decided to teach at the college level. "I was a high school English teacher for 10 years before getting my Ph.D.," she says. "I wasn't planning to leave secondary education, but then I realized there are other opportunities too. It was my personal philosophy that I can assist my students more if I am better prepared. I thought, "I can teach 150 students, or several classes of pre-service teachers who will then teach 150 students each,'" she says.

"The urban aspect was one factor that brought me to UDM, but I was also very impressed with the faculty," she says. "Their research interests were similar to mine. I consider them brilliant. I interviewed a year before I finished my dissertation and went back to Arkansas as a visiting professor, but I couldn't get the people out of my mind."

McKisick sees the faculty as one of the best features of UDM. "The faculty project a sense that they care," she says. "I didn't experience that in my previous education. People assisted me, but at UDM we make it a priority. That is a big plus."

McKisick also serves as a member of the Faculty Search Committee within her department. Outside of work, she loves to travel. "I am one of 11 children," she says. "I have many brothers and sisters to visit. They live everywhere."

With her second year at UDM completed, McKisick says, "I am still fascinated with my area of research, and I am very much supported by the faculty here." With an interest in exploring education in an urban setting and diverse student populations, UDM and McKisick have made a good match.

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