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Michelle Pledger, Ed.D.

Dr. Michelle Sadrena Pledger is the Director of Liberation at the Center for Research on Equity and Innovation, a center that brings together practitioners, researchers and youth to address complex problems of practice in K-12 education and create more equitable, engaging learning environments for all students. She co-directed the Share Your Learning Campaign which spread student-centered practices (exhibitions, student led conferences, and presentations of learning) to 5 million students. Michelle is also a co-designer of annual Deeper Learning conferences across the country, and recently supported the design and facilitation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Networked School Improvement Community of Practice Fall Convening. As a faculty member at High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education, she co-teaches Justice: Self, Schools, and Society in the San Diego Teacher Residency Program, Leadership for School Change in the Master’s Program, and she coaches teachers on liberatory project-based learning. As a Freedom Facilitator, Michelle provides professional development for organizations and districts who seek to liberate self, others, and systems.

Michelle has been recognized as a Yale University Bouchet Graduate Honor Society member, a David L. Clark Scholar, a Billions Institute Fellow, a Chrispeels Doctoral Fellow, a Shoephlin Fellow, a recipient of the National Society of High School Scholars Higher Education Award, as well as the Inter-American Development Award. She was recently awarded the 2022 Outstanding Alumnus Award by the CSUSM College of Health and Human Services. She earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in social justice education through a joint doctoral program at the University of California, San Diego and California State University, San Marcos. Her research focused on cultivating culturally responsive teaching and classroom management self-efficacy in novice and veteran teachers for the purpose of improving academic opportunities and outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students. She holds a Master’s degree in Pacific International Affairs and a Bachelor's degree in International Studies with a minor in Clinical Psychology. 

Michelle is committed to disrupting inequity in education and cultivating a community of practitioners who honor the lived experiences of all their students and educators. Her book, LIBERATE! Pocket-Sized Paradigms for Liberatory Learning is a must read for any educator who aspires to design educational experiences that are responsive to culturally and linguistically diverse young people. Whether it is through the vehicle of project-based learning, culturally responsive-sustaining pedagogy, or freedom facilitation, her hope is to develop educators and young people who think critically, act empathetically, and live a life of liberation.

Show Highlights

  • Liberation
  • Contribution and semantics
  • Liberating our consciousness
  • Liberation work is lifetime work

Connect with Michelle

Michelle’s Website

LIBERATE! Pocket-Sized Paradigms for Liberatory Learning





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Transform your school and your classroom with these best practices in equity

Leading Equity delivers an eye-opening and actionable discussion of how to transform a classroom or school into a more equitable place. Through explorations of ten concrete steps that you can take right now, Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins offers you the skills, resources, and concepts you’ll need to address common equity deficiencies in education.


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