Jondou Chase Chen, Co-Director

SEED is about stories. It’s about story telling and story sharing. It’s about effecting change and celebrating everyone. What do I mean?

When asked about my oldest memory, I generally tell the story of my first day in school. Born to immigrant parents, I didn’t speak English yet. I’m standing on the playground, trying to make sense of everything around me. I want so badly to understand. Even more, I want to fit in. And I’ve been wondering and wandering about ever since to do so.

I’m a watcher and a listener. I’m a storyteller and a pattern seeker. I’m a walker and a doer. When I first came to SEED, I taught high school history in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I loved the classroom, connecting with students, and making curriculum come alive. Before that, I helped direct a homeless shelter. After that, I ran a church youth center and then an alternative education oral history project. These days, I’m a developmental psychologist at Teachers College, Columbia University (where I earned my Ph.D.), and manage the Mindset and Motivation project under Xiaodong Lin at TC and Carol Dweck at Stanford. Our research looks at how students’ perceptions of their brains, intelligence, history and society shape their ability to overcome life challenges and systemic oppression. If there was thread running through my work, it would be this: context matters.

And so does mine. The truth is, I can remember before that first day of school. I listened to my grandparents pass down stories and traditions in Taiwanese. We sang hymns and hiked down cliffs to swim in the Pacific. And the food … !

— Cheryl Robinson, Supervisor, Office of Minority Achievement, Arlington Public Schools, Virginia