S-P Community

Why S-P Community Matters

The practice of education is embedded within complex social contexts. Over the past two decades, in particular, many external forces have been exerting powerful influences over the work of teachers and administrators at all levels of education. Individual practitioners—regardless of talent and competence—often find it challenging to cope with such a whirlwind of complexity and change. By participating in communities of practice, educators can support each other, share the wisdom gained through hard won experience, and advocate for educational excellence.

Who We Are

In recent years, the ideas of scholarly practice and scholar-practitioners have entered the mainstream conversation about the improvement of education. Often these conversations occur among policy-makers at national organizations. The Scholar-Practitioner Nexus provides a conversational space for those who work day in and day out within the complex contexts of education.   Marilyn, Pat, and Maria met through a dissertation study group in which all members were inquiring into dilemmas of educational practice. Emerging from this experience was a deep-seated belief in the capacity of practitioners to generate wisdom that can inform their own actions and those of others. This belief gave rise to our book, On Being a Scholar Practitioner: Wisdom in Action and is the impetus for the Scholar-Practitioner Nexus.

Marilyn J. Llewellyn, PhD

Marilyn J. Llewellyn is Professor of Education and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in several programs at Carlow University. She brings extensive experience as a teacher and principal at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels to her current work. She co-developed several graduate programs during her time at Carlow. She also served as the Dean of Education at Carlow. Her work earned her the Max and Esther Sestili Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the St. Thomas Aquinas Distinguished Alumni Award. She received her Master’s Degree from Boston College and her PhD from The Union Institute Graduate College and University in Cincinnati. She has co-authored the book Dealing with Differences: Taking Action on Class, Race, Gender, and Disability. Marilyn’s current research is focused on the ways that being a Scholar-Practitioner is manifested in action. Her book, Spirituality and Pedagogy: Being and Learning in Sacred Spaces (Wisdom of Practice Series), was published in March of 2017 by Learning Moments Press and is available on Amazon.

Patricia L. McMahon, PhD

Patricia L. McMahon is a professor of Education and teaches graduate and undergraduate students across a number of programs at Carlow University. She began her career in education as a high school English teacher. She holds a Bachelor’s in Secondary English Education with an emphasis in Theater from the Pennsylvania State University, a Master’s of English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, and a PhD in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Throughout her years in higher education, she has co-developed several graduate programs in Education, has created new graduate and undergraduate courses, and has been the director of the Secondary Education Certification Program and the program director for High Performance Learning. In working with student teachers, in her seminars on student teaching, and in her research courses, Pat invites learners to examine the Scholar-Practitioner qualities and to reflect on those attributes as a means of nurturing an awareness of their developing pedagogy. Her areas of expertise include narrative inquiry, curriculum, composition, content area literacy, reflective portfolios, qualitative dissertation research, and arts-based educational research. Her work on arts-based educational research has been published nationally and internationally. Currently, Pat’s research also includes a focus on educators thinking like system designers who see beyond the context of the single classroom and embrace the paradoxical elements inherent in the complex nested systems of education.

Maria Piantanida, PhD

Maria Piantanida holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English Literature and a doctorate in curriculum and supervision from the University of Pittsburgh. Her interest in education began as a graduate teaching assistant and progressed when she became involved in instructor-training for Emergency Medical Technicians. Since then she has served as the director of hospital-wide education at a major teaching hospital; a curriculum developer working with faculty on the development of undergraduate, independent study courses in the arts and humanities; and a curriculum consultant for programs in health and human services. With Pat and Marilyn she developed and co-taught a graduate course for educators committed to in-depth study of their practice. Her areas of interest include professions education and interpretive modes of qualitative inquiry. She co-authored the book, The Qualitative Dissertation: A Guide for Students and Faculty and co-edited The Authority to Imagine: The Struggle toward Representation in Dissertation Writing. Most recently, she has established Learning Moments Press, a small, independent publishing company dedicated to the publication of books reflecting the wisdom gained through professional practice and significant life events.

Our Philosophy

Grounded in the concept of praxis (that thinking informs action and action informs thinking), the Nexus offers a space to explore six qualities embodied by Scholar-Practitioners. Regardless of one’s professional role or stage of professional life, those with the sensibility of Scholar-Practitioners draw upon a reservoir of Pedagogical Wisdom to guide their decisions and actions. Theoretical Understanding and Contextual Literacy support educators as they work at the intersection of complex social and institutional forces. Embracing the qualities of Ethical Stewardship and Aesthetic Imagination empowers Scholar-Practitioners to advocate for the educational well-being of individuals and the profession. Through Metacognitive Reflection, Scholar-Practitioners become more than recipients of rational-technical knowledge generated by others; they become sources of wisdom for fulfilling the purpose of education.

Our Vision

Members of the Scholar-Practitioner Nexus join with those who, in recent years, have been challenging the traditional dichotomy between practice and scholarship. As a global community committed to generating the wisdom of practice through connection, reflection, imagination, and action, Scholar-Practitioners…

  • understand that they have power and can choose to exercise that power on behalf of the profession and those the profession is meant to serve;
  • initiate deliberative conversations among themselves and with stakeholders in a wide range of contexts;
  • know that professional wisdom is necessary to guide skillful practice; and
  • support only those policies and mandates that serve the purpose of education and assure the ethical treatment of those entrusted to their care.

Collaborative Community

Our deliberations for much of our scholarly work has been enriched by a number of individuals who continue to engage in conversations with us and with each other.

Roberta Campbell, OSB, MA is former Professor of Education, Carlow University, and current Liturgy Director at St. Benedict’s Monastery. 
Noreen Garman, Ph.D. is Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Pittsburgh.
Roberta Schomburg, Ph.D. is Emeritus Professor of Education, Carlow University, and Executive Director at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College.