USM assistant professor wins National Education Association Foundation Envision Equity Scholarship for $5,000

Larissa Malone

By: Meghan Carlisle, Personal editor

Prior to higher education, Dr. Larissa Malone taught preschool, early elementary, and became an administrator at a bilingual education center in partnership with an urban school district.

Malone is an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education in USM’s School of Education and Human Development.

“I decided to return to graduate school to focus on social and cultural foundations, a branch of education that broadly examines the purpose and importance of school in society,” Malone said.

His time as a teacher has been rewarding as his reach goes far beyond just the children in his class.

“I can now impact hundreds of children by teaching their teachers in a unique way through my niche expertise,” Malone said.

Malone recently won the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation’s Envision Equity Grant for $5,000 for the Maine Black Educators Collective (MBEC). MBEC’s mission 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 in Maine.

“I learned that I had been rewarded in December and I was more than delighted! said Malone.

Malone worked closely with the grants office here at USM. Their advice and guidance was appreciated by Malone as it helped her in her grant writing process.

Last year, Malone received a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation as part of their response grant, Educators for Black Lives.

“With this grant, I created the Maine Black Educators Collective (MBEC). This current award is made through the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation Envision Equity grant and will allow me to offer MBEC programming through the end of 2022,” Malone said.

She plans to use this grant to offer a series called “Teach-In/Work-Out.” Malone says this will allow educators to alternate between discussion forums and health and wellness sessions. This series will be held virtually, allowing people from all over Maine to attend.

Malone’s mission for this series is to support educators.

“Through this programming, I aim to support educators in anti-racism initiatives in their local classrooms while prioritizing self-care at a time when educators are incredibly stressed,” Malone said.

Additionally, Malone gave a talk the previous weekend at Falmouth High School on race and education.

His speech was modeled after TED Talks. She shared three stories illustrating the prevalence of race and racism in schools. Every story she told of her life was based on the experiences of her three daughters.

“I’m glad I rehearsed before because telling my family’s stories was definitely more emotional than I expected!” Malone said.

Malone is a critical race theorist. She uses a practice called counter-narrative in her research. Wanting to give voice to the experiences of others rather than one’s own.

Her research focuses on the minoritized experience of American schooling. She is interested in how minority students, teachers and their families navigate educational institutions.

“At the end of the day, I’m glad I allowed myself to be vulnerable in this way, because my presentation allowed the audience to connect with my message in a meaningful and memorable way,” Malone said.

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