October 13, 2020

Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to share that we will soon have the great privilege of welcoming our 2020–2021 Scholars in Residence to Chapin. Our three extraordinary partners are Chapin alum Professor Kahdeidra Monét Martin ’99, Professor Naomi Extra and Dr. Westenley Alcenat. 

Each is an expert in the literature, history, and/or arts of the African diaspora, and has cultivated experience in developing pedagogical strategies, leading curriculum design and guiding professional growth. Our Scholars will partner in this inaugural year with faculty and Upper School student interns in the continued examination and refinement of Chapin’s curriculum with evolving understandings of what a truly rich and inclusive academic program must encompass. This new program has been designed to ensure that Chapin, in turn, provides resources and experiences in support of Professor Martin, Professor Extra and Dr. Alcenat’s own work.

After an extensive search this summer, conducted by a hiring committee of administrators, department chairs, faculty, staff and Upper School students, we received over 60 outstanding applications for this program, illustrating the abundance of talent, intellect, and achievement in the educational community that is dedicated to the Black American experience and African diaspora. Among these applicants were three candidates who demonstrated not only their deep expertise, skills and passion, but also their desire to share their knowledge with our community. 

Below are biographies for our Scholars (as well as links to their full bios) and comments shared with the committee during the search process.

  • Kahdeidra Monét Martin
    A member of Chapin’s Class of 1999, Professor Kahdeidra Martin is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Urban Education: Language, Context and Culture at The Graduate Center, CUNY. She holds a Master of Philosophy in Urban Education, a Master’s of Education, Teaching Urban Adolescents with Disabilities from Long Island University; and a Bachelor’s degree in African & African American Studies with a minor in Linguistics from Stanford University. Since 2019, Professor Martin has been a Provost’s Fellow and conducted Presidential Research in the Registrar’s Office at The Graduate Center, CUNY. (MORE)

    "With [Kahdeidra’s] commitment to ensuring that schools are meeting the holistic needs of students, I am confident that she will continue to make outstanding contributions in education and continue on her path of advocating for students from diverse cultural, economic and religious backgrounds.”
          – Vincent Dotoli, Head of School, Harlem Academy 
  •  Professor Naomi Extra
    Professor Naomi Extra is a current doctoral candidate in American Studies at Rutgers University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Film & Media Studies with a minor in French from the University of Rochester; a Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from CUNY Hunter College; and a Master’s in Afro American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Extra has been granted many fellowships and awards including, most recently, the Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship in History Education, a year-long fellowship at the Museum of the City of New York for doctoral candidates who have an interest in teaching and public scholarship. (MORE)

    "For Naomi, the lines between ‘scholar’ and ‘educator’ are porous; her ‘traditional’ academic scholarship and her ‘public’ work are mutually reinforcing. Regardless of what she is working on or what audience she has in mind, her sensitivity, her intelligence, and her careful commitments to creativity and black freedom as joint enterprises animate and enrich whatever she does.”
          – Ruth Feldstein, Professor of History, Rutgers University
  • Dr. Westenley Alcenat
    Dr. Westenley Alcenat graduated cum laude from Macalester College with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science & History. He received a Master’s in American History, a Master of Philosophy in American History, and a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. Currently, Dr. Alcenat works as an Assistant Professor of History and Affiliated Assistant Professor of Urban Studies & American Studies at Fordham University. (MORE)

    "[Wes] is now at work, while teaching, at focusing and expanding [his] dissertation into a book. I am confident that it will result in a book that will change our perception of African-American politics and identities as they have related to the international movement of peoples and ideas. This is a perspective that will add a very important dimension to the history of slavery as it affected emerging concepts of democracy and citizenship in the Atlantic and Caribbean worlds.”
           Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University

The Scholars in Residence program will provide novel opportunities for our professional community to, with the support of these three external mentors, strengthen Chapin's legacy of academic excellence; elevate understudied narratives, perspectives and cultural contributions from the African diaspora; and critically examine what and how we teach all of our students.

While our Scholars will be housed in the Upper School in this first year, our ultimate goal is for the work of our annually placed doctoral and postdoctoral Scholars to extend across the School, in all divisions and in all disciplines.

I look forward to sharing more throughout the year about our newest community members and their important work, as well as opportunities for enrichment that  our 2020–2021 Scholars might provide to the broader Chapin community.

With gratitude and excitement,

Suzanne Fogarty
Head of School
The Chapin School