Faculty Research

Our program faculty are not only dedicated mentors, they’re also recognized scholars.

Check out some of their recent research highlights.

Leah Gordon

Leah Gordon holds a joint PhD in history and education from the University of Pennsylvania. She has particular interests in the history of education, intellectual history, the relationship between social science and social policy, and ideas about race, class and inequality in modern America. Gordon's first book, "From Power to Prejudice: The Rise of Racial Individualism in Midcentury America" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), received the 2016 Linda Eisenmann Prize from the History of Education Society. Gordon is currently working on "Imagining Opportunity: Education and Equality in Modern America" (under contract with the University of Chicago Press), a history of the idea that schooling can equalize the social and economic structure. She has received awards and fellowships from the Spencer Foundation, the National Academy of Education, the American Council of Learned Societies and Stanford University's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

Ziva Hassenfeld

Ziva R. Hassenfeld, is the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Assistant Professor in Jewish Education at Brandeis University. She studies reading comprehension from a sociocultural perspective, focusing on how children develop interpretations of the Hebrew Bible as a case of student reading development. She uses a variety of qualitative methods including ethnographic observation, stimulated recall interviewing, and think-aloud interviewing. Her research lab is called "Student-Centered Religious Learning and Literacy Lab." (SCRoLL Lab)

These investigations connect her to the worlds of biblical hermeneutics, both contemporary and rabbinic, as well as literary theory and criticism. Her recent publications can be seen here. In addition to her research, Ziva is a passionate educator. She has taught Hebrew Bible in a variety of settings, including at JCDS, Gann Academy, Genesis/BIMA at Brandeis, Silicon Valley Beit Midrash, Stanford Hillel, Congregation Beth Jacobs, and Congregation Emek Beracha.  She is a Wexner Fellow and Davidson Scholar, Class 25.

Danielle Igra

Danielle Igra’s research areas include the Pedagogy of Teacher Education and the Teaching of English Language Arts. She currently teaches Fundamentals of Teaching, Pedagogy of English, and Reflective Teaching. Before coming to Brandeis, Igra worked at Stanford University, where she also earned a PhD in teacher education, an MA in English, and an MA in teaching. Igra taught high school English for nine years in public schools and has taught in graduate programs in secondary, elementary and early childhood education. As a teacher development and research consultant she has worked in the fields of literacy, large scale assessment, higher education and Jewish education.

Jonathan Krasner

Jonathan Krasner's 2020 book, “Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps” (Rutgers University Press), co-authored with Sarah Bunin Benor and Sharon Avni, was the recipient of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award in Education and Jewish Identity. His 2011 book, “The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education” (Brandeis University Press), was the winner of the 2011 National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies. He was named as a 2012 finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

He is currently working on a history of the American Jewish Day School movement and was the recipient of the Sylvia and Moshe Ettenberg Prize of the Network for Research in Jewish Education to support his research. 

In addition to the history of American Jewish education, his research interests include the teaching and learning of Jewish history and social studies, Jewish youth, and Jews and sexuality. His articles have appeared in a variety of academic journals and edited collections.

Marya Levenson
A renowned expert on teacher leadership and education policy, Marya Levenson is the author of “Pathways to Teacher Leadership: Emerging Models, Changing Roles” (2014). In addition to serving on the editorial advisory board of the Harvard Education Press, she serves on the advisory board of Brandeis’ Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program and chairs the selection committee for Brandeis’ Richman Distinguished Fellowship in Public Life.
Jon Levisohn

Director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, Jon Levisohn is an expert in the philosophy of education and of Jewish education, and is currently exploring the desired outcomes of Jewish education.

In addition to having held many prestigious fellowships, he is also author or coauthor of numerous books and articles, including the 2016 report “Leadership in Context: The Conditions for Success of Jewish Day School Leaders,” as well as “American Institutes for Research”  and “The Interpretive Virtues: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Teaching and Learning of Historical Narratives” (forthcoming). In December 2018, an edited volume, “Advancing the Learning Agenda in Jewish Education,” was published by Academic Studies Press. It was co-edited with Jeffrey Kress.

Sharon Feiman Nemser

Founder of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis, Sharon Feiman Nemser is an expert in Jewish education, teacher education and professional development of teachers.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, in 2018 she received a presidential citation from the American Educational Research Association for her groundbreaking scholarship on teacher education and learning to teach. She is the author or co-edited of numerous articles and books, including Teachers as Learners (2013) and Getting the teachers we need: International perspectives on teacher education (2017).

Joseph Reimer

Joseph Reimer is a leading expert on experiential Jewish education. He recently co-edited, with Jonathan Krasner, a special issue of the Journal of Jewish Education (Vol. 84, No. 4) dedicated to research on Jewish camps. It includes his article "Shabbat-at-camp at three Jewish camps: Jewish learning through ritual participation.”

Rachel Kramer Theodorou

Rachel Kramer Theodorou has been a classroom elementary and ESL teacher for more than 20 years in both public and private schools. Alongside her practical work, Rachel consults with Waltham Public Schools, MATSOL, ECDO and the Waltham Family School on matters ranging from instructional practices for teaching English Learners, to promoting ESL teacher leadership in professional development, and in methods for forging productive family relationships between school and home.

Derron Wallace

Derron Wallace is a former community organizer and international education policy analyst who joined the Brandeis faculty as an assistant professor in 2015. His work has appeared in the Harvard Educational Review, the British Journal of Sociology of Education, International Journal of Inclusive Education, Gender and Education, Disability & Society, among others.

Wallace's research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Gates Cambridge Trust, the Marion & Jasper Whiting Foundation, and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. He is the recipient of the 2017 Michael L. Walzer Prize for Excellence in Teaching.