"It?s Just Our Brilliance, Uncut and Raw": The Transformative Power of a Black Teacher Fugitive Space
Jessica Stovall

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Stanford University

Primary Discipline

Black Education
Growing concerns about antiblackness in education and the related attrition of Black teachers highlight the need for research on professional development spaces that support Black teacher retention. Drawing on ross?s (2021) notion of educational fugitive space, my dissertation research is a longitudinal examination of how Black teachers co-create a Black teacher fugitive space, and how this space informs and supports their pedagogies and navigation of antiblackness at their school sites. Fugitivity is what Ford (2014) called the ?artful escape of objectification? (p. 4), and it connotes an enslaved person who runs away from anti-Black horrors toward a freedom dream. My research employs these notions of educational fugitivity from Black Studies to theorize how these Black-affirming places are rehumanizing and sustaining for Black teachers, offering implications for Black teacher retention. Through ethnographic interviews of elder teachers who taught during the integration efforts of the 1960s along with today?s teachers, this research first sets the landscape of both the historical and contemporary climate for Black teachers in the Bay Area. Then, I used participant observation methods to follow 20 Black teachers for a year in the Black Teacher Project (BTP), a professional development racial affinity space that I theorize is a fugitive space. In a subsequent year, I followed a subset of Black teachers from the BTP into their classrooms to study how this fugitive space impacts their pedagogies and their students? response to them. This project thus extends research on Black teacher retention by focusing on how Black-affirming fugitive spaces can support teachers in collectively reimagining schools as sites of liberated learning for their students.
About Jessica Stovall
Jessica Lee Stovall is a doctoral candidate in the Race, Inequality, and Language in Education (RILE) and Curriculum and Teacher Education (CTE) programs at Stanford?s Graduate School of Education. Her work in education draws on Black Studies to explore how Black teachers create fugitive spaces to navigate and combat antiblackness at their respective school sites. Jessica?s research has been supported by the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant, the Stanford Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Fellowship, and the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. In addition to the NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, her dissertation research has been supported by the Stanford GSE Dissertation Support Grant and the Stanford Diversity Dissertation Research Opportunity. She holds a B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.S. in Literature from Northwestern University. Before beginning her doctoral studies at Stanford, Jessica taught English and Reading for 11 years in the Chicagoland area.

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