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Dr. Mariah Harmon

Assistant Professor of Education

Phone: 814-863-3286

179 Chambers Building
University Park, PA 16802


  • Curriculum and Instruction


Mariah Deans Harmon (she/her) is an Assistant Professor for the College of Education at Penn State University. She is in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Mariah earned her doctorate at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, where she was awarded the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.


Her research examines how teacher education programs can better center the developmental needs of minoritized teachers. Specifically, she focuses on supporting Black women pre-service teachers (BWPSTs) as they prepare to enter their classrooms. In her research, she contends with two essential dilemmas for BWPSTs (along with other minoritized teachers in U.S. schools): How do you become an agent of power in a system that has historically done harm to people like you? And how do you become a disruptor in a system that has benefited you? Her work expands current scholarship outlining BWPSTs’ vast experiential knowledge by focusing on developing such knowledge into pedagogical competence. She uses social design methodologies to create teacher education counterspaces for minoritized teachers as they explore different aspects of becoming critically conscious educators, reflecting on their personal histories and hopes for their future classrooms. 


She received an M.A. in Education from the University of Mississippi and her B.A. from Vanderbilt University. Before working in academia, Mariah was a middle school English/Language Arts Teacher in Okolona, Mississippi, teaching in the same school as her grandmother 40 years ago. During her time in Okolona, she won Teacher of the Year, one of her most proud teaching moments. Outside of research, Mariah enjoys playing golf, going to brunch, and spending time riding scooters with her husband and son.

Areas of Expertise


Equity and Diversity

Educational Studies

Critical & Feminist Theory

Individual Difference


Methodological Research

Qualitative Research

Social Issues

Race and Ethnicity

Teacher Preparation

In-service Teachers
Pre-service Teachers
Professional Development
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