Sandy Lizaire-DuffSandy Lizaire-Duff

Urban Education


Work Position
Classroom Teacher

Date passed dissertation defense
April 3, 2013


Sandy Lizaire-Duff is currently a full-time teacher with the Teaneck Public school district. She has been nominated for and received several awards for excellence in teaching.  Her innovative teaching methods have also been featured in teacher preparation textbooks and local newspapers.  In addition to teaching, she has provided professional development programs to her colleagues in the area of literacy. She has also supervised student teachers from area universities and mentored new classroom teachers.

Sandy has presented papers at:

  • The 2010 Everyday Life in the Segmented City Conference in Florence, Italy
  • The 41st UAA Conference: Reclaiming the City - Building a Just and Sustainable Future
    New Orleans, Louisiana,
  • The 2011 AERA Annual Meeting: Inciting the Social Imagination - Education Research for the Public Good, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • The 7th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry conference: Qualitative Inquiry and the Politics of Advocacy, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

She is a member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Urban Affairs Association (UAA), and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).  Her research interests include teacher preparation, leadership in schools, immigration, participatory action research and educational policy.  She holds a Bachelors degree from Montclair State University and a Masters Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.  

Title of Dissertation

A Research Conversation About Teaching Reading in a Diverse Suburban Public School District


Children of color in middle-class suburban schools experience marginalization and low academic achievement, as do their counterparts in urban schools. However, because they live in the suburbs and attend suburban schools, people often think that they are doing well. Policymakers, residents, community leaders, and visitors make the assumption that resources needed by children of color in suburban public school districts are readily available.

The common image of wealth associated with the suburbs needs to be demystified. Today’s suburbs do not conform to stereotypical perceptions of homogeneity, affluence, and high achievement. They are becoming increasingly diverse and in need of resources to support people who do not have access to services and the means to provide for their families. Some suburban public school districts serve a growing multiracial student population, including more immigrant children. These districts face the challenge of meeting all students’ needs, as well as the needs of the teachers who are held accountable for the success of this ethnically, racially, linguistically, and economically diverse student population. Researchers are becoming aware of ways in which suburbs are transforming. More important, educators and administrators are beginning to rethink how they approach teaching and learning in diverse suburban public school districts.

This study explores teachers’ and administrators’ discourse about teaching reading to a racially, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse student population in a suburban public school district. The study employs auto-ethnographic and action research methods within the frameworks of critical theory and critical race theory. Research methods include focus groups, semistructured topical interviews, Geographic Information Systems, document analysis, action research, and auto-ethnography.

This study has policy implications for the target school district and other suburban public school districts that are experiencing a racial and socio­economic transformation. Suburban public school districts need to learn how to meet the demands of federal and state regulations as well as the needs of an increasingly growing immigrant and low-income student population. This study illuminates experiences of district administrators and teachers in an ethnically, racially, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse suburban public school district.



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