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Heather B. Cunningham

Cunningham, Heather

Heather B. Cunningham is Assistant Professor of Education at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  There, she teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in teacher education, and shares her passion for helping new teachers understand how their cultural beliefs and values shape both teaching practices and student experiences.  A classroom teacher for thirteen years, she is licensed in the areas of Social Studies and English as a Second Language (ESL) / Bilingual Education. Her first teaching position was serving as an ESL teacher with kindergarten and middle school students at the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos home for children in rural Honduras.  After that, she taught bilingual Social Studies to immigrant students at Roosevelt Senior High School in Washington, DC and then joined the founding team of City Charter High School, a nationally-ranked school in downtown Pittsburgh, PA.  At City High, Heather team-taught social studies as part of a two-person “Cultural Literacy” team. After her promotion to the position of master teacher, she continued to teach and also served as a coach for other teachers at the school. 


Heather’s research and writing focus on preparing teachers to support students in urban spaces.  This includes studying the roles that race, ethnicity, poverty, and language play in the K-12 classroom, and investigating what constitutes “effective teaching” in urban spaces.  She enjoys designing and delivering professional development for both in-service teachers as well as university faculty on these topics.  Heather also has a strong interest in the relationship between education, culture, and context on a global scale. In addition to her Ph.D. in Instruction and Learning from the University of Pittsburgh, she holds a Master of Arts degree in International Training and Education from American University and has worked on education projects in the countries of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Malawi.