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Fulbright Scholar Program sparks international partnership with Greece

Lazaridou and Lyman outside Cook Hall

Linda Lyman, professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations, left, and visiting Greek Fulbright Scholar Angeliki Lazaridou

Greeks are known for traveling, getting in touch with other cultures, and bringing those cultures into their homeland. At least, that is the stance held by Angeliki Lazaridou, assistant professor of educational administration and leadership at the University of Thessaly.

As a native of Athens, Greece, Lazaridou certainly fits her own description. She spent eight years at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where she earned her master’s in education and doctorate in educational administration and leadership.

She is again spending a semester overseas this fall, and this time her office is located on the third floor of DeGarmo Hall.

Lazaridou is visiting the University as a Fulbright Scholar; she was one of only a handful selected from a nationwide invitation to faculty members in Greece.

During her stay, she will contribute her perspective to faculty of the College of Education’s Department of Educational Administration and Foundations (EAF) as they begin the implementation stages of a new principal preparation program and the design phase of a teacher leadership program.

When Lazaridou returns to Greece, she will adapt this work for the development of a principal program at her own university.

“These international perspectives can be translated into the Greek context,” said Lazaridou. “(The perspectives) enrich my teaching, my writing, and the experiences of my students. If I were to only focus on the Greek scene, I know I would miss the bigger picture. I would not be able to see it all.”

While this is Lazaridou’s first visit to Central Illinois, she already possessed strong ties with Illinois State.

Linda Lyman, a professor in the EAF department, is a former Fulbright Scholar herself. In 2005, she traveled to Greece to teach and to study educational leadership in the country.

Lyman’s research involved interviewing female principals in P-12 schools, most of whom spoke little to no English, as did her Greek research partner Anastasia Athanasoula-Reppa, then a professor at the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPETE) in Athens.

To facilitate the duo’s work, they needed a translator with expertise in the field. That’s when Reppa recruited Lazaridou, who was serving as an adjunct instructor at ASPETE. Her skills and knowledge proved to be the perfect fit.

“(Lazaridou), being totally bilingual, was able to help me with interviews because she had the ability to translate in either direction,” Lyman said. “She was really the key to the research.”

Lazaridou’s integral role on the team enabled them to begin presenting initial findings at conferences in Greece just two short months later.

Their work quickly caught the eye of conveners of Women Leading Education (WLE), an international organization promoting the research and advancement of women in educational leadership positions. Lyman, Lazaridou and Reppa were all invited to become members and presented their research at the first WLE conference in Rome in 2007.

Lyman and Lazaridou’s involvement in the organization led to their collaboration on a book titled Shaping Social Justice Leadership with Jane Strachan, a fellow member and retired professor at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.

The publication is rooted in a collection of personal narratives about the lives of 23 WLE members. Initially, the stories were circulated on a WLE listserv to help the globally-stationed educators gain a deeper understanding of one another’s backgrounds. As the content continued to evolve, the decision was made to share the lives of these courageous women with a wider audience.

“The stories are diverse and unique, and they represent people from all over the world,” said Lazaridou. “It is easy for a reader to relate to at least one of the stories, and hopefully it will inspire them to be what they can.”

Before it was published, the authors sent an advance copy of the book to Ira Bogotch, a senior scholar among educational administration professors, in the hopes that he would write a one or two-sentence endorsement. Instead, Bogotch sent an extensive response lauding the authors for developing a new methodological genre  for studying social justice—a genre they would later identify as critical evocative portraiture in the 2013 edition of the International Handbook of Leadership and Social Justice.

Their collaboration this semester will write another chapter in the international partnership of the talented researchers. And Lyman is eager for Lazaridou to contribute her insights for the department’s new preparation programs.

“I know that when my colleagues interact and dialogue with her, it will broaden their perspective,” said Lyman. “Her understanding of complexity theory and chaos theory, for example, is not something that anyone in our department is doing right now. And who better for us to learn from than a brilliant Greek!”