I Know What I Believe: Using Theory to Prepare Youth Workers


  • Corinne L McKamey Rhode Island College
  • Lesley Bogad Rhode Island College
  • Rachael Clemons Rhode Island College
  • Victoria Restler An interdisciplinary artist and educator, Victoria Restler has worked for fifteen years in schools, juvenile justice facilities, galleries, universities and nonprofits to address social issues through participatory art-making. A native Brooklyn-ite, she received her PhD in Urban Education from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2017. Her multimodal dissertation research explores the visual culture of teacher evaluation by zooming in on the images and experiences of educators grappling with new evaluation policies.


Higher Education, Theory, Youth Development, Curriculum, Teacher narratives


In this paper, we mobilize storied program moments to illustrate how we use a theoretical framework— Youth Work Ideologies — to help undergraduate students in a public university develop skills in observing, analyzing, and making decisions about their youth development practice. We first introduce the theoretical framework of our program, and then share three "storied moments.”   The stories show students’ development in practice from playful classroom contexts to actual youth work settings. Ultimately, we show how this approach provides our students and us, the program faculty and staff, with a systematic and consistent way of critically thinking and acting within youth work practice.

Author Biographies

Corinne L McKamey, Rhode Island College

I am the Associate Professor of Culture, Communities and Education in the department of Educational Studies and a founding co-director of the Youth Development B.A. program. YDEV@RIC stresses the importance of “leading with youth,” and across all my classes, I try to model this approach with students, faculty and community partners. I am interested in better understanding the perspectives of young people, youth workers, and educators in in after school programs, community centers, and K-12 schools. In pursuing this work, I use a variety of qualitative research techniques including cultural analysis of discourse, narrative analysis, and arts based methods (e.g. photography, collage making). When I lived in Texas, I taught science and interdisciplinary studies to 6th-10th graders at urban schools that specialized in project-based learning. Since moving to the northeast, I have worked as a mentor teacher, youth worker, educational consultant, curriculum developer, and educational researcher.

Lesley Bogad, Rhode Island College

Dr. Lesley Bogad is a professor of Educational Studies at Rhode Island College, an affiliated faculty member in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, and co-director of the Youth Development Program. She is also the founder and lead facilitator of A.L.L.I.E.D., the Advanced Learning and Leadership Initiative for Educational Diversity, a primary tool for recruiting and retaining students from historically underrepresented groups in the Feinstein School of Education. In 2016, she received the Youth in Action Award for Community Engagement, and in 2015, the Bucci Family Award for Teaching Excellence. In addition to her teaching and research around schooling for social justice, critical pedagogy, youth culture and media literacy, she also serves on the board for the Center for Resilience, a non-profit organization that brings mindfulness practices to schools, communities and workplaces in Rhode Island. Everyday, Lesley tries to work to contribute to a more socially-just world, but sometimes she get distracted by working in her garden, parenting a tiny human, surfing Facebook, or listening to the music from Hamilton.

Rachael Clemons, Rhode Island College

Dr. Rachael Clemons is the Field Coordinator for Youth Develpoment at Rhode Island College.  Her dissertation explored three case studies of leadership within Social Justice Youth Development organizations.


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