Sissi Dinh O'Reilly is a fifth year doctoral student in the Educational Policy and Planning PhD Program with interests in researching the effectiveness of school reform initiatives and leadership accountabilities at the local, state, and national levels. As a researcher, she is interested in dissecting the complexities of research to practice through a critical lens to support the needs of marginalized and under-resourced student populations. Currently, her dissertation research consists of a mixed-methods study on the development of principal leadership practices in working with non-profit organizations and resource networks. Originally from Los Angeles, she has a M.Ed. in Education Administration from Pepperdine University, a MA in English Literature from California State University, Los Angeles, and a BA in English Literature and Language from the University of Southern California.
Professionally, she has worked in education for 15 years in various roles as an English teacher, literacy coach, district office ELA specialist, assistant principal, and principal. Her educational experiences have primarily been in high-poverty, under-resourced communities in various parts of Los Angeles including East Los Angeles and South Los Angeles. As an English teacher, she was a reader for the AP English Language Exam for the College Board and supported the development of district instructional guidelines and curriculum. Her last role was as the Principal for Clinton Middle School in South Los Angeles. Clinton MS is an urban turnaround school that, under her direction, achieved substantial growth in attendance, behavior and course performance through schoolwide initiatives that support the needs of all students. With partnerships with Diplomas Now (City Year, Communities in Schools, and Johns Hopkins Talent Development) and UCLA Center X, the schools progress was based on developing a positive, collaborative, and college-bound culture that within 3 years received recognition through media coverage and awards.