Hello, Shanna Eisner Hirsch!
One of the rapidly rising stars in special education, Shanna Eisner Hirsch, should be on people’s radars, if she isn’t already. She is doing excellent work, communicating it well, and collaborating with others who do similar work.
Now, I must admit to bias. Shanna and I worked closely together for years while she was a doctoral student. We began collaborating in ~2012, although she came to C’ville to meet with me earlier the previous year, if I have my dates correct.
I can still remember our first F2F meeting in a downtown C’ville coffee shop, a meeting that was planned to last 30-45 minutes and happily stretched to a couple of hours. I think that for Shanna that meeting was a chance to see if she could stand working with an elderly curmudgeon.
Apparently, I passed the test, because Shanna enrolled at the University of Virginia’s special education doctoral program for the next academic year. Then, in a matter of just 10-20 months, she became engaged, airborne, a high-flyer, and a flight instructor in quick succession. That began her work on, for example, teacher education issues. She made connections with many faculty members and other students…and she was on her way.
After she left UVA, Shanna rapidly rose to the level of associate professor at Clemson University. She has collaborated on multiple externally (and internally) funded studies. She’s already got scores of publications.
What has Shanna studied? She’s been especially engaged in helping teachers succeed. Much of her work focuses on encouraging early career teachers to employ evidence-based practices. She can trace this interest back to her studies with Kathleen Lynne Lane when they both were at Vanderbilt and Shanna worked on Kathleen’s projects. But, she is carrying this effort forward wonderfully now on her own!
So, why should special educators pay attention to Shanna’s work? This answer is easy: Shanna
Reports results from studies that use good methods; you can trust what she finds.
Situates her work in the “real world”; she examines data from actual, everyday, experiences of teachers.
Tells her research stories clearly and accessibly.
Gives a damn about kids and their teachers.
While she was a doctoral student, Shanna gave birth to her first child, the delightful Ely (I don’t know Ely’s little sister as well, but I bet she’s pretty great). Many special educators must navigate the currents of relationships, pregnancy, motherhood, and academic careers; most of them do it wonderfully, and Shanna was no exception.
Her competence in accomplishing this adds to my admiration of Shanna. And, she has a wonderful partner, Michael Hirsch, with whom I enjoy visits; we share interests in technology, everyday stuff, pets, children, and (duh) Shanna!
So, watch your news feeds. If Shanna is showing up near you, put the date in your calendar. See what she’s currently reporting. Prepare for a delightful encounter.