Developing skilled teachers to serve disadvantaged youth

"Our family is proud to be able to carry forward our mother's vision to provide support for leadership in urban school settings.”

— William Brinton, Son of William and Mary Jane Brinton

Meeting the challenges of today’s K–12 urban students requires creative, complex, and collaborative solutions. And preparing teachers to serve these students has never been more urgent — or more exciting.

Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) is significantly advancing this area with the William and Mary Jane Brinton Family Chair in Urban Teaching. Created in 2011 by the Brintons’ children through the Hewlett Challenge, the chair honors the family’s steadfast commitment to improving education. In particular, Mary Jane established a fellowship program at GSE in 1984 that has awarded more than 450 aspiring teachers to date.

The Brinton Family Chair is one of only a handful of faculty chairs nationwide dedicated to researching high-needs schools and training the very best educators. Professor Jabari Mahiri — its inaugural holder and a distinguished scholar of educational equity — says the gift is substantially boosting his research collaborations with colleagues across campus, disciplines, and continents. Two projects, for example, are seeking new ways to engage young people in STEM subjects.

The chair is also giving graduate students the knowledge, skills, and perspectives they need to guide at-risk students in reimagining their futures.

“Our work is contributing to a shift in teaching and learning paradigms,” says Mahiri. “It is a shift toward more authentic connections between institution-driven content and learner-driven interests — teaching students how rather than what to think.”

Learn more!

GSE announces chair’s inaugural holder

Listen to a radio interview with Dr. Mahiri 

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