With a career trajectory that included stops as a high school teacher, administrator, researcher, university professor, and project director for advancement of public education, Linda Brazdil, PhD, was the obvious choice to serve as the new director of Loyola’s Center for Science and Math Education.
Her diverse experiences in these positions coupled with her passion for improving K-12 education make Brazdil the perfect candidate for the job.
“I really believe very strongly in Loyola’s interest and commitment to urban education,” Brazdil says.
Brazdil, who has a PhD in physical chemistry, joined Loyola last summer as a part-time chemistry professor and became a full-time faculty member in fall of 2012.
The Center for Science and Math Education serves as a partnership between Loyola’s School of Education and College of Arts and Sciences that aims to improve the quality of math and science education in local schools.
Before coming to Loyola last year, Brazdil was an associate research professor at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. It was during her time there that she heard about the great work Loyola’s Center for Science and Math Education does with local urban schools.
Brazdil’s love of math and science as a young student was not just an academic interest, but a ticket to improving her lot.
“I was fascinated by math, fascinated by science—especially chemistry,” she says. “I want to help those students interested in that to make a better life for themselves.”
Brazdil, who was a first-generation college student, can identify with young adults looking to better themselves through education; this continues to fuel her passion for improving urban education.
“I love working with urban schools. They have a whole host of issues—people coming and going, programs being cut…” she says. Brazdil feels that with positive collaboration from educators, they can develop solutions to these problems and improve local schools.
When Brazdil first moved to Illinois from Cleveland, she worked on professional development for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a high school in suburban Aurora. There, she learned the importance of a solid relationship and understanding between administration and teaching staff.
“I learned about the types of long-term support that teachers and administrators need,” she says. “Administrators are really important in helping support teachers, and if teachers don’t get their support, they can’t do their work.”
While she is still developing her vision for the center, which she will take over this summer, there are two long-term goals she plans to set in motion.
“With the new common core and next generation science standards, I really want to make sure that the work that we do will help teachers see how students grow in their learning K-12,” Brazdil says. Instead of viewing a student’s progress grade-by-grade, Brazdil wants to take a more holistic approach.
“I really want them to see that whole continuum.”
She also wants to change the way educators use (or don’t use) technology to their advantage.
“I’d really like to see us use technology to help teachers and students learn and connect to more people.”
She explains that many teachers only use technology after school, and she wants to incorporate it into the classroom more often. Brazdil hopes that coaching teachers on how to use the web and other technologies in new ways, it will inspire collaboration among different schools in Chicago and beyond.