Urban Educational Think Tank (UETT)

The UETT is a research-based, self-contained academic community whose membership is reflective of several disciplines and whose scholarship focuses on questions and solutions related to urban education.  The group, composed of advance doctoral students from academic departments across the GSU community,  promotes and facilitates scholarship, leadership, and empowerment through critical research that focuses on urban education, schools, and communities.

Mission Statement

The mission of the UETT is to develop scholars who engage in urban education research and service that embraces cultural consciousness, social justice, community development, and transformation.


The vision of the UETT is to generate a cadre of culturally competent scholars who are productive, active agents of urban community transformation through advisement, mentoring, and robust scholarship. UETT scholars will inform urban education in the United States and abroad while providing a model of scholarship that is engaged in community.


  • Production of Scholarship
  • Engagement with Community
  • Urban Education Advisement
  • Leadership Development

Carmen is a 5th year doctoral student in the educational psychology program. She identifies as a Colombian - American female, Carmen embraces being bilingual and bicultural in today’s modern world.  She received her undergraduate degree in Biology and her Master’s degree in Ecological Sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Carmen’s research interests stem from two pipelines:

 Scientific Thinking:

In this line of work she is interested in inquiry practices that parallel to authentic science practices. Specifically how does "self- monitoring" and "self- reflection" affect inquiry practices. What are students thinking about as they participate in inquiry activities. Additionally, she is interested in how setting or instructional methods affect scientific thinking. She is especially interested in how informal settings such as museums, gardens, science centers, zoos, and aquariums affect the construct of scientific thinking in students.

 Environmental Psychology:

In this area of research she is investigating how nature or the environment impacts the individual. She currently works with students in grades 2nd - 8th, these students participate in a school garden Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Carmen is interested to see if working in a school garden can promote better scientific thinking and inquiry skills while helping students create a positive relationship with nature. She wants to create curriculum to help students become environmental stewards and be ecologically literate individuals.

Carmen was lead to the Crim Center because of her passion of minority representation in the STEM fields and higher education. She understands how education and identification play a key role in exposing minority students to the STEM pipeline and retaining these students in the pipeline. Carmen’s current research interests align well with the Crim center because she is interested in how “access” to informal settings affects science learning for urban students. Additionally, her school-garden research investigates how urban students from low-income neighborhoods relate to nature and how the gardens are an avenue for learning outside of the traditional classroom. Over, the next year Carmen will continue her work in urban education and hopes to add new community connections with her current projects.

Thais CouncilThais started her teaching career in Broward County Schools, Florida teaching marginalized youth not only the skill of reading, but also how to use literacy to shape and impact their identities, lives and communities. She was an inaugural member of Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Atlanta Public Schools and served as a Reading Specialist in DeKalb Public Schools.

Dr. Alonzo A. Crim believed in the power of inspiring and empowering community members to take an active role in the decision-making of urban schools. As a testament to Dr. Crim’s legacy, Thais has chosen to conduct a Participatory Action Research (PAR) study as her dissertation research. PAR defies the notion of an “ivory tower” and instead empowers and promotes the experiences of the community and while facilitating their role in shaping urban education policy for the advancement of their lives and communities.

Johari Harris is a 4th year College of Education Dean’s Fellow doctoral student in Educational Psychology. Before entering graduate school, she taught in different schools domestically and abroad. The experiences showed her how impactful issues of culture and identity have on the education and subsequent outcomes.

She currently works on the GSU CSEC team, developing and implementing culturally responsive curriculums for Black adolescents that support them in critically examining the multiple contexts they exist in and how their unique perspectives contribute to their experiences. Her current research interests surround positive youth development and how social identities such as race and gender influence social emotional outcomes.

The Crimm center’s emphasis on interdisciplinary approach and multi-faceted outreach in addressing the needs of urban schools and community speak directly to the Johari’s core belief that lasting change demands a multi-leveled approach. She is so excited and work with others from different disciplines to better serve youth in urban communities.


Ryan Maltese was born and raised here in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Oberlin College and then North Carolina Central University School of Law. In law school, he studied criminal justice and civil rights, and became a member of the Georgia Bar in 1999. Mr. Maltese spent much of his career in higher education administration, serving as Executive Director of Student Activities and University Events at North Carolina A&T State University, where he oversaw university events, student development and leadership initiatives, campus programs, student government and Greek Life. During his time at NC A&T, he also served as a professor in the Political Science Department, where he taught American Government, State Government, and African-American Politics.

Mr. Maltese holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict and Peace Studies from UNC Greensboro and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University. He served as a Graduate Fellow for the Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights where he was responsible for the development and coordination of the organization’s Violence Initiative and leadership development programs. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work in student leadership. His current research explores access to postsecondary education for undocumented students in the state of Georgia, specifically the policies that restrict the opportunities for students to pursue undergraduate degrees.

thumbnail_katemcphee_headshotKate McPhee is a third year doctoral student in the School Psychology program at GSU. She currently works as a graduate research assistant in the Center for School Safety, Climate and Classroom Management. Prior to beginning graduate school, Kate taught middle school science for two years in Atlanta Public Schools and has since been passionate about increasing equity in urban education.

Kate’s research interests are focused around the relationship between teacher factors such as personality, interpersonal skills and cultural competence and their effects on school climate, particularly on student psychological well-being and achievement. She is also interested in the culturally-relevant implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, particularly in schools that serve high populations of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Kate has previously worked with the Crim Center in workshops as a GSU MINRS Scholar and looks forward to collaborating as part of the UETT this year!

thumbnail_photo-1Elijah Porter II is a Mathematics Education doctoral student in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University. Elijah’s research interests include how semiotics, language, Activity Theory, Radical Constructivism, family efficacy, educational policy, and case study research connect to dismantle African American deficit-theory in mathematics.

Elijah started his teaching career in DeKalb County Schools, Georgia teaching marginalized youth not only the skill of mathematics, but also how academic survival skills shape and impact their identities, lives and communities.

Dr. Alonzo A. Crim believed in the power of inspiring and empowering community members to take an active role in the decision-making of urban schools. As a testament to Dr. Crim’s legacy, Elijah has chosen to include a Multiple Case Study within his dissertation research. Case Study Research defies the notions of "one-size fits all" and "one-number represents all".  Elijah's research challenges the framework that one teaching style in the classroom can address the wide assortment of students' learning styles.

Katherine Wade-Jaimes is a doctoral student in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education in the College of Education and Human Development. She has a background as a science teacher in urban school districts, including Oakland, California and Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to teaching, she also worked as an environmental engineer.

Ms. Wade-Jaimes’s research focuses on the identity development of African American middle school girls in science environments. She is particularly interested in the macro-level discourses that define who can be a “science person”, how those discourses are disseminated through school structures, and how individual students ascribe, resist, or negotiate the discourses during their day to day interactions and experiences. As part of her research, Ms. Wade-Jaimes runs an after school program for middle school girls, focused on providing authentic science and engineering activities to provide opportunities for students to see themselves as scientists and engineers.

Ms. Wade-Jaimes is a member of the Urban Education Think Tank at the Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Excellence. She is excited to work with other scholars who are passionate about understanding and improving urban education.

For more information please contact:

Thais Council
2016 - 2017 UETT Chair
Email: tcouncil@student.gsu.edu