The Neag School of Education welcomes four new tenure-track faculty experts this fall as well a visiting assistant professor:
Dr. Michele Back is an assistant professor of world languages in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the Neag School of Education. Prior to joining the Neag School, Back was an assistant professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at George Mason University. She also taught at the University of California, Riverside.
Back graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Spanish and a minor in Latin American studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She earned a MA in Hispanic languages and literatures from the University of California, Berkeley, followed by a Ph.D. in second language acquisition and a minor in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Her research interests include additional language acquisition and socialization; transnational and multilingual identity; study abroad; peer tutoring; and naturalistic contexts for language learning in Spanish, Portuguese, and Quechua varieties. Back has numerous published articles in various journals, and her first book, Transcultural Performance: Negotiating Globalized Indigenous Identities (Palgrave Macmillan) was released in May 2015.
Aarti P. Bellara
Dr. Aarti P. Bellara is an assistant professor in the measurement, evaluation, and assessment (MEA) program in the Department of Educational Psychology at the Neag School of Education. Most recently, Bellara was a researcher and evaluator working with the David C. Anchin Center and the Department of Measurement and Evaluation at the University of South Florida (USF). She has evaluated several state and federal grants and recently conducted two federal grant evaluations at USF.
She received her BA in political science and communication sciences from the University of Connecticut, her MA in teaching and curriculum from Sacred Heart University, and her Ph.D. in educational measurement and research from USF.
She worked for four years in the Fairfield (Conn.) Public Schools as a classroom teacher, teaching both second and fourth grades. Bellara was a member of the school system’s professional development committee and worked with the administration on attaining various speakers and educational developers for the school. She has also written a number of grants, which aimed to enhance learning by using inquiry-based teaching in science and social studies.
Bellara is a member of Kappa Delta Phi International Honor Society, the American Evaluation Association, the Florida Educational Research Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education. She has presented at several national conferences, including the American Evaluation Association, and the American Educational Research Association, as well as several regional conferences. Her research interests focus on educational evaluation and measurement; data analysis and leadership; and equity studies with regards to teacher retention and attrition.
Dr. Cara Bernard is a visiting assistant professor of music education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the Neag School. She received her doctorate in music education this past May from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she was a University Distinguished Fellowship recipient. She also has two master’s degrees in music education from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and Teachers College. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music education at New York University.
Bernard began her teaching career in New York City public schools, teaching high school music in Queens. She also was a contributor to the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts document for the New York City Department of Education, and served as a curriculum writer for the Arts Achieve grant for the Office of Arts and Special Projects.
A native of Bridgeport, Conn., Bernard, a choral clinician, has given workshops and guest-conducted throughout the Northeast. She has prepared and conducted her choruses for performance in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street YMCA, and New York City Hall. She also has worked with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City to bring choral experiences to 700 children throughout the city.
Her research interests include music teacher education and evaluation; urban (music) education; community and identify; multiculturalism; choral music education; and critical pedagogy. She has published on these topics and presented her research at national and international conferences, including the College Music Society and the University of Toronto Social Justice Conference.
Glenn Tatsuya Mitoma
Dr. Glenn Tatsuya Mitoma is an assistant professor in social studies education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the Neag School. He also holds a joint appointment at UConn as an assistant professor at the Human Rights Institute and is the director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
Mitoma attended the University of California Santa Cruz, earning a bachelor’s degree in photography. After several years working in the creative field in Seattle, Mitoma returned to California and earned both a MA and Ph.D. in cultural studies at Claremont Graduate University, focusing on the cultural and historical origins of the contemporary international human rights system.
In 2008, Mitoma came to UConn as the first postdoctoral fellow in the Foundations of Humanitarianism Program. In 2010, he was appointed assistant professor-in-residence at the Human Rights Institute and helped to design and implement the undergraduate Human Rights Major, one of only a handful of such programs in the country. In 2013, he was appointed director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, where he has led the development of initiatives in K-12 human rights education and in business and human rights.
In addition to publishing articles in Human Rights Quarterly; Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly; and History, he recently co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Human Rights on humanitarianism and responsibility. His first book, Human Rights and the Negotiation of American Power (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), examines the link between the coincident mid-20th century ascendancies of the U.S. as the pre-eminent global power, and human rights as the most compelling global ethic. His current research projects include a biography of the Lebanese philosopher and diplomat Charles H. Malik, a history of Article 26 (the right to education) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and an analysis of the U.S. cultural impact of the rise of human rights discourse in 1940s. Mitoma is also the book review editor of the Journal of Human Rights.
Dr. Blanca Rincón is an assistant professor in the higher education and student affairs program of the Department of Educational Leadership at the Neag School of Education.
Rincón is a California native and a graduate of the University of California Irvine, where she received a BA in sociology with a double minor in Chicano/Latino studies and education. She went on to earn her Ed.M., along with her Ph.D., in education policy studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was also the 2014-2015 predoctoral fellow with El Instituto and the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut.
Rincón’s research agenda is concerned with equity issues in higher education, with a specific focus on factors that impact retention for racial and ethnic minority students in STEM. Rincón’s most recent publications include “Low-income Students in Engineering: Considering Financial Aid and Differential Tuition” in the Journal of Student Financial Aid and “STEM Intervention Programs: Funding Practices and Challenges” in the Studies in Higher Education. She was also recently selected for the prestigious emerging scholars program through the American Educational Research Association (AERA)—Division J.