New Tenure-Track Assistant Professor Elise Castillo

Photo of Assistant Professor Elise Castillo
Assistant Professor Elise Castillo

The Educational Studies Program at Trinity College is pleased to announce that Elise Castillo has been hired as our newest tenure-track Assistant Professor, effective September 2021. Professor Castillo is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Educational Studies and Public Policy & Law at Trinity, and in 2019-20, she was Trinity’s Ann Plato Fellow. She earned her Ph.D in Education Policy from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley in December 2018. She also holds an MA in Education Policy from UC Berkeley, MS in Teaching (Adolescent English) from Pace University, and a BA in English and Creative Writing from Barnard College.

Professor Castillo’s scholarly identity is shaped by her personal experience as a second-generation Filipina-American, and her professional experiences as a public school teacher in a high-poverty New York City neighborhood. She is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work examines the possibilities for, and limitations to, school choice policies for advancing racially integrated, equitable, and democratic public education. Her dissertation, “Progressive Education Meets the Market: Organizational Survival Among Independent Charter Schools,” compared three charter schools in New York City and how their school leaders and board trustees endeavored to sustain their initial racial diversity and progressive teaching missions amid accountability pressures. She found that school leaders and trustees adjusted or abandoned these founding missions in order to garner resources and legitimacy in a competitive charter school market. Professor Castillo’s work has been published in American Journal of Education, Education Policy Analysis Archives, and Educational Policy.

Professor Castillo’s commitment to equity and inclusion make her an ideal fit for Trinity and the Educational Studies Program. In her teaching, she fosters learning environments for students to examine K–12 public schools, education policy, and school reform through the lenses of racial equity, social justice, and democracy. In describing her approach to teaching, Professor Castillo writes, “I am committed to fostering an inclusive and equitable learning environment that supports the success of all students, regardless of their prior academic preparation. For example, I am mindful of how the ‘hidden curriculum’ on college campuses, or implicit expectations and norms, may be less familiar to first-generation students and others from historically marginalized groups. I strive to make the hidden curriculum explicit by, for instance, sharing exemplary samples of past student writing, so that my students see what constitutes an appropriate writing style and tone.”

Professor Castillo’s ongoing research and teaching includes projects connected to the broader Hartford community. In a Hartford-based research study, she is investigating the motivations of Asian American parents who participate in metropolitan Hartford’s magnet school system. In her upper-level elective, “Privatization and Public Policy,” Professor Castillo designed a partnership with The Connecticut Mirror, a nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news site focused on state politics and policy. In Fall 2020, students each wrote pieces on privatization topics impacting Connecticut residents, which were published in The Connecticut Mirror’s “CT Viewpoints” section in a special collection entitled “Bantam Banter.”

Professor Castillo is also committed to supporting and mentoring students underrepresented in higher education. She says, “As a Filipina-American woman, I seldom see my identity represented in the academy. Thus, it is professionally and personally important to me to mentor students from underrepresented and historically marginalized groups.”