CLASS Lab Members

The Connecting Learning Across Social Settings (CLASS) Lab investigates the development and maintenance of beliefs underlying educational practices.


Manya Whitaker, PhD (principal investigator)

Dr. Whitaker is originally from Washington, D.C. but grew up in Charlotte, NC. She is a product of K-12 public schools and thus she is passionate about reforming public schools to offer equitable educational opportunities for all students, regardless of demographic characteristics. Her areas of expertise include teacher identity development, culturally responsive pedagogy and family engagement.


 Tina Valtierra, PhD (research partner)

Dr. Valtierra is an Assistant Professor of Education at Colorado College. She spent over 10 years in urban schools serving as a classroom teacher, intervention teacher and instructional coach before becoming an international literacy consultant. Her expertise is in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on inclusive studies. Her current research is focused on urban teacher preparation with an emphasis on teacher reflection, teacher identity and teacher thrival. She is the author of Teach and Thrive: Wisdom from an Urban Teachers Career Narrative. Most importantly, she is a loving partner to her husband Michael and doting mother to their three boys- Myles, Carter and Marcus.


Belle Durkin (undergraduate research assistant)

Belle is a senior at Colorado College (CC) who is from New York City and still can’t decide if she is more a mountain or ocean gal. She is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Education and Urban Studies. Eventually, she hopes to work in education and/or housing policy. She sings in Ellement, CC’s femme+ a cappella group, and also teaches embroidery. In her free time, she likes to listen to podcasts, go for leisurely hikes, and craft (some say I’m a bit of a grandma).