My career in education began in Washington D.C. where I taught middle school science and math. While teaching, I pursued my Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis in Education Policy. After teaching, I worked for two years as the Director of Programs of a national non-profit organization that focused on addressing issues of adolescent bullying and harassment for students in grades 3-12. In this role, I also trained teachers, counselors, social workers, and school leaders on developing positive, healthy, thriving school cultures. This was such a rewarding experience and taught me a great deal about the social and emotional part of creating a successful school. After returning to Illinois, I worked for over eight years as a Principal Consultant with the Illinois State Board of Education providing technical assistance to school district administrators and other agency leaders across Illinois. It was during this time that I began working on my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Soon after beginning my program, I began working as an adjunct professor at Concordia University Chicago. For over seven years, I spent time instructing and mentoring educators earning graduate degrees in Education Administration and Teaching, and supporting doctoral candidates through their dissertation process. Immediately prior to joining GSU, I spent time working to promote equity in public education policy in Illinois as an employee with Advance Illinois, a non-profit bipartisan policy-advocacy organization.
In my short time at GSU, I really have appreciated working with non-traditional students. The motivation for these students to further their education has been truly inspiring. Each of these students have a drive for knowledge and learning and sharing this experience is one of the main reasons I got into teaching. It serves as a constant reminder of the dedication it takes to be successful. More importantly, it offers me an opportunity empathize with my students on the challenges of working and attending graduate school and provide support and/or counsel when needed. In the future, I am looking forward to working with our incoming freshman and providing them tools to improve their chances for success at GSU.
Another path that aligns with my love for education is community service. Service has always been something that I have been compelled to do from an early age. I see it as a way of giving back for all of the blessings in my life. Currently, I am serving as the Community Representative of my Local School Council and as a member of the Bronzeville Community Action Council. In both roles, I work to support education initiatives in my local community. Over the past seven years, I have served as the Principal of Greater Bethesda Church's free Saturday tutoring program. This program is designed to develop the foundational skills of struggling students in the Washington Park community. During this time, through strategic partnerships with community organizations and local schools, we were able to increase student retention and parent participation by partnering with local elementary schools and community organizations. In addition to this work, I also serve on Youth Guidance's Junior Board, a non-profit that provides programming for underserved populations and schools. Additionally, I serve on the Executive Board of New Leaders Council Chicago, a leadership development organization that works to promote progressive policies and programs both locally and nationally by training the next generation of leaders. I feel that being a leader in my community extends beyond the workday and it is my hope that by giving my time and talents, I can make a lasting impact at GSU and beyond.
The primary notion that drives my teaching philosophy is that as educators we must meet students where they are and constantly strive and adapt our own practice to enable them to reach their full potential. We must remember students come from different backgrounds, former teachers, and varying experiences in the classroom which may influence their educational self-efficacy. As a result, it is incumbent on educators to develop methods of instruction that ensures each student is reached and can be successful. Moreover, we should work in tandem with students to develop an education plan that aids in achieving their goals. This is especially prudent in higher education where students should take more control over the direction and ultimate outcome of their education. The ultimate goal should be in aiding students in developing their own voice.
Since starting at GSU, I've taught the following courses: Leadership Theories and Ethics, School Improvement Process, Dynamic of School Climate, Special Topics in Higher Education, Capstone Seminar, Public Safety Research, Education for Diversity, Independent Study (Higher Education), and Mastering College Seminar (undergraduate)
Since joining GSU I served the university in a variety of ways. I was invited to participate in the Planning and Budget Advisory Council (PBAC). It is truly an honor to serve the university in this capacity and I hope to represent the college as an advocate for responsible, student-centered budget decisions. Additionally, this year I also joined the University Student Conduct Committee as a Faculty Representative. Additionally I have been actively involved in the Male Success Initiative as part of the Advisory Committee. Specifically for the College of Education, I am currently serving as the Faculty Liaison from the Education Administration program for Metropolitan Institute for Leadership in Education (MILE) and work on the College Newsletter Committee.
Superfine, B. M., Smylie, M. A., Cummings, M. I., and Tozer, S. (2012). The challenge of coherence in education policy in Illinois. The Illinois Report 2012, Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois, Chapter 7, pp. 72-82.
Publications Under Review
Cummings, M.I. (n.d.). Understanding options in school reform: Administrator perspectives on the decision to privatize school services.
Cummings, M.I. (n.d.). Building new administrator toolboxes: Using cost-effectiveness as a means for decision-making.
Cummings, M.I. & Olson, J. (2016). Collaborating for school improvement: Building strategic partnerships to develop communities of practice. Paper Presentation, Mid-Western Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Evanston, Illinois – November 2016
Cummings, M.I. & Olson, J. (2016). Collaborating for school improvement: Building strategic partnerships to develop school culture and instructional practices. Roundtable Session, Association of Teacher Education Conference - Midwest Region, Urbana, Illinois – April 2016
Cummings, M.I. (2016). Understanding options in school reform: Administrator perspectives on the decision to privatize school services. Paper Presentation, American Education Research Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C. – April 2016
Cummings, M.I. (2014). Private attacks on urban schools: Quality erosion in school district services. Paper Presentation, Southwest Academy of Management, Dallas Texas
Cummings, M.I. and Rawls, S. (2013). The internal, external and local effects of educational reform: Philosophical tensions in school reform, contextualizing the real problem. Paper Presentation, Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society, Dayton, Ohio
Cummings, M. I. (2012). The effectiveness of privatization in maintaining program adherence in school support programs. Poster Presentation, Mid-Western Educational Research Association, Evanston, Illinois
Cummings, M. I. (2012). Curriculum embodied in community: Activism, service, relationship. American Education Research Association, Vancouver, CA, Chair - Roundtable Session
Cummings, M. I. (2010). The financial impact of food service management companies on school lunch programs in Illinois. University of Illinois at Chicago, Student Research Forum, Humanities and Social Science, Graduate Division
Cummings, M. I., Hall, M., Lewis, D. Olson, J., Rawls, & S., Warren, C. (2010). Scholars at work: Establishing a community of practice in graduate school. Workshop Presentation, American Education Services Association, Denver, CO