Allison Skerrett, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin, has received this year’s Elizabeth Shatto Massey Award for Excellence in Teacher Education. The Massey Award recognizes a “teacher of teachers,” who inspires and prepares future elementary and secondary teachers. Skerrett is also the new Director of Teacher Education for the College of Education.
Skerrett is the Louise Spence Griffeth Fellow for Excellence and director of the Urban Teachers Program. Her research, curriculum development, and teaching have made an indelible impact on the college’s pre-service teachers. Her commitment to equity and social justice for students who have been historically marginalized in traditional education settings has made her a leader in the field. She recently was promoted to full professor, and she is also sought after internationally, as her appointment to Scotland’s International Council of Education Advisers demonstrates.
“Dr. Skerrett is a thorough and thoughtful educational leader, clearly passionate about research and teaching that benefits pre-service teachers and students who have been historically marginalized,” says College of Education Dean Charles Martinez. “Her focus on equity and social justice and her dedication to the teaching profession are extraordinarily important in this time of change in our society. It is fitting that she has been honored with an award that recognizes excellence in teachers of teachers.”
Several years ago, Skerrett and three other senior faculty led the charge to re-configure the college’s teacher education program to prepare pre-service teachers to teach in culturally responsive ways. This teaching is increasingly important, especially in Texas. One in 10 children in the United States lives in Texas, and 67 percent of those children are children of color.
Skerrett bridges disciplines in her work and develops best practices in the field to empower teachers to work toward equitable change. She teaches pre-service students to do an equity audit in their classrooms, a practice she incorporates in her teaching that comes from the work of Terrance Green, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. An equity audit helps teachers evaluate markers of inequity, such as race, socioeconomic status, language, sexuality, gender identity, and varied ability, within their teaching environment, and gives them tools for change.
Alexandria Smith, M.Ed. ‘17, English teacher and department chair at LBJ Early College High School in Austin took Skerrett's Literacy and Social Change course. “We conducted an equity audit as one of our final projects, as well as a teacher research project proposal in which I contended with ideas about what it would mean to be a Black teacher in Austin,” says Smith. “I continue to use these ideals to try to create an equitable space for my students in my classroom. This course even allowed me the opportunity to present on how it impacted my teaching at the National Council of Teachers of English in 2018.”
Named for Elizabeth “Libba” Shatto Massey, the Massey Award was established in 2003 by UT alumnus John H. Massey to honor his wife’s lifelong dedication to public education. She received her degree from the College of Education in 1961 and pursued a career in teaching. She remains committed to education and connected to UT through her service on the College of Education Advisory Council and on the Executive Committee of the Chancellor’s Council for The University of Texas System.