News & Events

The Niemeyer Series

The Niemeyer Series comprises lectures and symposia focused on urgent matters of educational interest. The Series is dedicated to the memory of John H. Niemeyer for his leadership in helping Bank Street College of Education become a national voice for children beyond practice and into policy.

The Niemeyer Series 2024

“More than Cookies and Crayons: Head Start and the Mississippi Black Freedom Struggle”
Featuring Crystal R. Sanders, PhD
Associate Professor of African American Studies
Emory University

Thursday, May 16 at 5:30 PM
Tabas Auditorium, Bank Street College


Crystal R. Sanders

About Crystal R. Sanders

Crystal R. Sanders, an award-winning historian of the United States in the 20th century, is an associate professor of African American studies at Emory University. Previously, she was an associate professor of history and the director of the Africana Research Center at Pennsylvania State University. Sanders is the author of A Chance for Change: Head Start and Mississippi’s Black Freedom Struggle published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2016 as part of the John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture. The book won the 2017 Critics Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association and the 2017 New Scholar’s Book Award from Division F of the American Educational Research Association. The book was also a finalist for the 2016 Hooks National Book Award.
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Past Speakers

  • 2021 Speaker: Dr. Gholnecsar (Gholdy) Muhammad

    Cultivating Genius and Joy in Education through Culturally and Historically Responsive Pedagogies

    Gholdy MuhammadIn her keynote, Dr. Gholdy Muhammad explored a unique culturally and historically responsive approach toward the goal of cultivating genius and joy in education. This approach is essential for accelerating the growth of all students, and, uniquely, youth of color who have been traditionally underserved in learning standards, policies, and school practices. She presented her equity framework, called the HILL Model, to help educators teach toward developing students’ histories, identities, literacies, and liberation.

  • 2019 Speaker: Amy Stuart Wells

    Segregated Pedagogy; Segregated Schools: The Role of Progressive Education in the Drive for More Culturally Responsive Schools

    Amy Wells
    Photo by Erick Raphael

    Amy Stuart Wells, Professor and Director of the Sociology and Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, presented at the 2019 Niemeyer Series on Tuesday, November 19. During the talk, she explored the history and key tenets of progressive education revealing natural conceptual connections to multicultural education, culturally responsive pedagogy, and ethnic studies curriculum. These connections imply that progressive educators should be at the forefront of efforts to integrate schools by integrating instructional approaches. This integration of these different pedagogical strategies has not yet occurred, however, and in fact, their separate existences in separate schools and classrooms exacerbates racial, ethnic and socio-economic segregation as parents are forced to choose one or another. Wells examined the racial and socio-economic divide among educators and parents that perpetuates these divisions and explore the possibility of convergence. She also explored the impact of federal accountability policies on this divide and called for a grassroots, interracial movement to advocate for less teaching to the test and more progressive education that is culturally relevant.

  • 2018 Speaker: Carla Shalaby

    Cover of Carla Shalaby's book TroublemakersCarla Shalaby, a Research Specialist at the University of Michigan, presented at the 2018 Niemeyer Series on Thursday, November 8 in a talk titled, “On a Curriculum of Human Being: Learning Love, Freedom, and Troublemaking from and with Children.” Shalaby wrote, “This talk will invite us to imagine what we want to teach children through our own example and, more importantly, what we might learn from the examples of human being that children offer us in everyday life.”

    During the reception, Shalaby signed copies of her book, Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School. 

  • 2017 Book Reading: These Schools Belong to You & Me: Why We Can't Afford to Abandon our Public Schools
    These Schools Belong to You & Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon our Public Schools

    Deborah MeierDeborah Meier, author of the acclaimed books The Power of Their Ideas and In Schools We Trust, has spent more than five decades working in public education as a parent, school board member, teacher, principal, writer, and advocate. Meier ranks among the most acclaimed leaders of the school reform movement in the United States. Among her numerous accomplishments, she helped found the Coalition of Essential Schools in the 1980s, under the leadership of Ted Sizer. In 1987, she received a MacArthur award for her work in public education.

    Emily Gasoi has been an educator for more than two decades and was a founding teacher at Mission Hill School in Boston. In 2012 she earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Gasoi currently lives in Washington, DC, where she adjuncts at Georgetown University and is co-founder of Artful Education, an organization focused on helping schools and arts organizations improve practices related to creative teaching and learning.

  • 2017 Speaker: Sharon Ryan
    Progressive Pedagogies and Public Policy: Reasserting Bank Street’s Research Presence in Debates about How Best to Use Early Childhood Education to Address Inequities

    Sharon Ryan during Niemeyer Series lectureDr. Sharon Ryan is Director of the Straus Center for Young Children and Families at Bank Street College of Education. Prior to joining Bank Street, she was Professor of Early Childhood Education at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Dr. Ryan has worked in the early childhood field as a preschool teacher, consultant, program leader, curriculum advisor, and special educator. As a researcher, Dr. Ryan uses a range of qualitative and mixed methods designs to research early childhood teacher education and professional development, curriculum, policy enactment, and the potential of critical theories for rethinking early childhood practices. She has published a number of articles, book chapters, and reports in these areas.

  • 2016 Speaker: Dr. Claude M. Steele
    Stereotype Threat: How It Affects Us and What We Can Do About It

    Claude SteeleDr. Claude M. Steele is an American social scientist, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at UC Berkeley, and author of Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do.

    Dr. Steele served as the I. James Quillen Dean for the School of Education at Stanford University from 2011 to 2014. As dean, he led the school toward a deeper engagement in public education, including the renewal and expansion of a partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District. From 2009 to 2011, Steele served as the 21st Provost of Columbia University, where he led and implemented academic policies and plans for the university, including a major initiative to enhance support for the basic sciences. While at Columbia, he was responsible for managing the work of the university’s faculty, departments, research centers, and institutes while overseeing the university’s budget and financial planning.

    Steele is best known for his work on stereotype threat and its application to minority student academic performance. His earlier work dealt with research on the self as well as the role of self-regulation in addictive behaviors.

  • 2015 Speaker: Deborah Meier
    Progressive Practice in Public Settings

    Deborah MeierDeborah Meier has spent more than four decades working in public education as a teacher, principal, writer, and advocate. She is currently senior scholar at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. After teaching in early childhood classrooms early in her career, Meier became not only an advocate for progressive policies and practice in public settings, but also a pioneer in founding innovative schools serving primarily students of color in New York City’s District 4. She supported the development of similar schools throughout the city, and in 1984 helped found the Coalition of Essential Schools.

    After graduating from the University of Chicago, Meier became an early childhood teacher, and in the late 1960s, she taught kindergarten in Central Harlem. For the next 20 years, Meier helped revitalize public schools in New York City’s District 4 in East Harlem. In 1974, she founded Central Park Elementary School, a highly successful public school of choice that served predominantly local African American and Latino families. In the years that followed, Meier opened two other Central Park elementary schools in District 4 as well as an acclaimed secondary school, while supporting and directing the development of similar schools throughout the city.

    In the 1980s, Meier helped found the Coalition of Essential Schools under the leadership of Ted Sizer. At Coalition schools, Meier helped foster democratic communities, greater autonomy for teachers, parental voice in children’s education, and inter-generational connections.

    Meier is the author of many books and articles, including The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem, and In Schools We Trust. She is an outspoken critic of state-mandated curriculum and high-stakes standardized testing, and has written extensively on their unreliability and class/race biases. She is on the board of the Coalition of Essential Schools, FairTest, Save Our Schools, Center for Collaborative Education and the Association for Union Democracy. She also serves on the editorial boards of The Nation, The Harvard Education Letter, and Dissent. In 1987 she received a MacArthur “Genius” Award for her work in public education.

  • 2014 Speaker: Samuel J. Meisels
    Universal Pre-K in New York City: Quality & Equity in the Face of Rapid Expansion

    The 2014 Niemeyer Series addressed the following question: How will New York City achieve the mission to provide quality pre-K services to every child in a way that truly benefits children and families at every socioeconomic level? Moderated by renowned early childhood expert Samuel J. Meisels, EdD, the panel featured perspectives from educators and policy leaders who are deeply invested in the success of a citywide pre-K rollout.

    Panelists: Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, City of New York; Regina Gallagher, GSE ’08, Head of Early Childhood Programs at Goddard Riverside Community Center; Josh Wallack, Chief Strategy Officer at the New York City Department of Education

    Moderator: Dr. Samuel J. Meisels, EdD

    Samuel J. MeiselsDr. Samuel J. Meisels is the founding executive director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska, one of the nation’s leading centers for early childhood research and teacher education. His research focuses on the development of alternative assessment strategies for young children; the impact of standardized tests on children; and developmental screening in early childhood.

    Dr. Meisels previously served as president of the Erikson Institute in Chicago. He is research scientist emeritus at the University of Michigan, and was a faculty member in the Department of Child Study and director of the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School at Tufts University. A former preschool, kindergarten, and first-grade teacher, he also served as senior advisor in early childhood development for the Developmental Evaluation Clinic of Boston’s Children’s Hospital. He holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • 2013 Speaker: Diane Ravitch
    The Death and Life of the Great American School System: What New York’s Next Mayor Needs to Know

    Diane RavitchDiane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She blogs for Education WeekPolitico, and Huffington Post. Her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. From 1991 to 1993, she was Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of President George W. Bush. She was responsible for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education. As Assistant Secretary, she led the federal effort to promote the creation of voluntary state and national academic standards.

    Her latest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, was hailed by The New York Review of Books as “indispensible” for understanding what has happened under the reform movements of the last several decades.

  • 2012 Speaker: Christine Quinn
    Alternatives to School Closings

    Christine Quinn, New York City Council Speaker, is an influential figure in educational policy and was a major candidate in the city’s 2013 mayoral race. The discussion was moderated by former dean of Bank Street Graduate School Jon Snyder and featured the voices of representatives from some of New York’s leading educational advocacy organizations, including Zakayah Ansari, Advocacy Director for the Alliance of Quality Education and a parent leader for the Coalition for Educational Justice and Maria Fernandez, senior coordinator for the Urban Youth Collaborative.

  • 2011: Teacher Performance: Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective
    Teacher Performance: Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective – How Can You Tell?

    Moderated by Jon Snyder, former Dean of Bank Street Graduate School. Panelists including Shael Polakow-Suransky, President of Bank Street College and former Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor at the New York City Department of Education; Margaret Ryan, Co-Founder and Principal of Harlem Link Charter School; Barnett Berry, President and CEO of Center for Teaching Quality; and Frederick Frelow, Program Officer at Educational Opportunity and Scholarship, The Ford Foundation.

  • 2010 Panel Discussion: Race, Class, and Reform: A Panel Discussion About Education Reform in America
    Race, Class, and Reform: A Panel Discussion about Education Reform in America

    Moderated by Jon Snyder, former dean of Bank Street Graduate School. Panelists included Irving S. Hamer, Jr., Deputy Superintendent of Memphis City Schools; Peter L. McFarlane, Principal of the Hugo Newman College Preparatory School; Michael Nettles, Senior Vice President of ETS; Jeannie Oakes, Director of the Ford Foundation’s Educational Opportunity and Scholarship Program; and David Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center.

  • 2009 Panel Discussion: School Reform: Where Have we Been and Where Should we be Going?
    School Reform: Where have we been and where should we be going? Some lessons for a new American President

    Moderated by Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. Panelists included Thomas Payzant, Professor of Practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University School of Education; Louis Delgado, Principal of Vanguard High School; and Alec Gershberg, SFC ’78, Associate Professor at the Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy.

John H. Niemeyer

John H. NiemeyerJohn H. Niemeyer served as Bank Street’s second president (1956–1973) and transformed the College in many ways, beginning with its move from 69 Bank Street in Greenwich Village to West 112th Street. He led the College’s evolution into a widely known institution that worked with and acted as a prime resource for schools, educators, and policy makers. In addition to his work within the College, Niemeyer was an active and influential member of the progressive education community, serving as a consultant to the United States Office of Education regarding desegregation and the formation of Head Start.