The University of Maryland College of Education has named Clinical Professor Christy Tirrell-Corbin and Associate Professor David Weintrop as 2023 Dean’s Impact Professors. Faculty awarded the dean’s impact professorship have a strong record of rigorous research and have made a significant impact on policy, practice, schools and/or society. As impact professors, Tirrell-Corbin and Weintrop will receive an annual stipend to continue their work to address grand challenges in our society and transform education for good. They will also develop opportunities for College of Education faculty, staff and students to learn about or engage with their innovations and action-oriented research.
“Dr. Tirrell-Corbin and Dr. Weintrop have invested in broadening educational opportunities to young children and students, helping to reflect our community’s commitment to advance equity in education,” said Dean Kimberly Griffin. “I am inspired by the scope of their work’s impact and impressed by their accomplishments as researchers.”
An award-winning faculty member, Tirrell-Corbin focuses on trauma-sensitive professional development and high-quality learning experiences for young children, especially those from low-resourced communities. Through a 20-year partnership with a local elementary school in a high-poverty community, Tirrell-Corbin has made an impact on the lives of many children and their families. She’s worked with school-based colleagues to transform their approach to family engagement, worked with a UMD colleague to bring support for early oral language development in children’s home languages before they enter prekindergarten, and co-developed a Trauma Sensitive Pedagogy (TSP) toolkit to help prepare educators to address the needs of children who have experienced trauma.
“Being selected as a Dean's Impact Professor is a tremendous honor that validates my dedication to making a positive difference in the development and learning of young children,” said Tirrell-Corbin. “I am grateful for the college's recognition of my work in early childhood and its steadfast commitment to making a difference in our world.”
Tirrell-Corbin’s impact across the state of Maryland and beyond is significant. Using evidence-based research, she developed Children Discovering Their World, early childhood curricula for three- and four-year-olds that are used in more than 300 classrooms in Maryland. She is the Principal Investigator of an early childhood initiative focused on workforce development. In 2021, she completed an evaluation of Maryland’s Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation project, which led to legislation to increase funding for the project. She’s been appointed three times to the state’s Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers and has served as a member of the Maryland State Department of Education Early Childhood Research Advisory Committee.
Tirrell-Corbin has generated $15 million in early childhood grant funding that includes external evaluations, curriculum design and implementation, and trauma-informed schools. The results of her research have been published and presented both nationally and internationally and funded by public, philanthropic and government agencies.
Weintrop, whose work lies at the intersection of the learning sciences, human-computer interaction and computer science education, has helped advance the design of environments and technologies, broadening participation in computing and bringing learners from diverse and historically excluded backgrounds into computing.
“I'm thrilled and honored to receive this title,” said Weintrop. “Impact is a central driver for my work, which happens in close collaboration with schools and school districts to help ensure that the results have a direct pathway into classrooms and in front of students.”
One of his most notable projects is introducing programming to middle school students across the country. Since 2017, he has worked closely with Chicago Public Schools to design Scratch Encore, a culturally responsive middle school computer science curriculum. The first Scratch Encore lesson has been viewed more than 35,000 times. To date, more than 200 teachers have been trained on the curriculum, and it has been downloaded more than 2,000 times by educators around the world. He is currently in the second year of an National Science Foundation-funded project to continue this work with teachers across the state of Maryland and the country. This project explores ways to support the development of customizable Scratch Encore instructional materials that draw on students’ prior knowledge and the cultural resources present in their own classrooms and local communities.
He has worked closely with many other public school districts, including the District of Columbia Public Schools, and has collaborated with numerous industry partners and advocacy groups, including VEX Robotics, ABB Robotics, Google and Code.org to improve K-12 computer science education in this country and make computational technologies more accessible and equitable.
Weintrop’s research has been funded by many government agencies and national organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Department of Education, the Maryland Center for Computing Education, and the Spencer Foundation.