J. Cynthia McDermott brings to the Education Department a wide range of clinical teaching skills that reflect her diverse years of experience in academic and professional settings. She began as a high school English teacher in rural Pennsylvania, and accepted a graduate fellowship that led to an MEd, in Reading Diagnosis. Returning to her home town of Philadelphia, she organized a reading program to assist gang members at Martin Luther King High School, working closely with the courts and neighborhood associations to influence the illiteracy rates. Her most recent public school teaching was in a bilingual Kindergarten in Compton, California.
McDermott’s interest and commitment to democratic teaching began in her progressive undergraduate program and has continued throughout her years of teaching. Chosen as a Fellow for the Soros Foundation-Open Society Program, she taught in Moldova, Hungary, and Armenia working with Eastern European educators to create democratic classrooms. She has taught for the Foxfire Fund for the last 10 years teaching college faculty about an educational model based on John Dewey’s philosophy. Along with democratic teaching practices she has an intense interest in Children’s Literature and began the Horace Mann Upstanders Children’s Literature Award.
McDermott is also interested in faculty governance and the processes that are used in academic settings to determine policy and procedures most helpful for students and faculty. She completed eighteen years of teaching in the California State University system where she participated in faculty governance including two years as Chair of the Faculty. Her interests in organizing and social justice began as a child growing up in a family of Irish union fire fighters.
McDermott was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to do research and teach at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 2010/2011 academic year, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She recently was named to the advisory board of the International Step by Step Association. McDermott is the proud mother of two grown children and a recent grandmother.