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Paulina Whitehat

University of Oregon


Paulina Whitehat is Diné, a member of the Navajo Nation of northern Arizona. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon. She earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, with school principal certification, from the Pennsylvania State University, and a Master’s degree in Bilingual & Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University. Paulina gained more than 15 years of teaching and school leadership experience in indigenous and diverse communities. She taught elementary-age students, English Language Learners, and struggling readers. She provided intensive literacy instruction and monitored outcomes, implemented a universal reading screener to identify students at risk of reading failure, and analyzed data to design groups and instruction to advance student literacy skills. Paulina coordinated out-of-school programs and district-level programming for indigenous students and families. She contributed to state and district school curriculum and advocated for students and families to improve educational outcomes. Currently, her research is focused on (1) developing effective interventions to build capacity for trauma-informed instruction and practices in school systems and communities; (2) implementing culturally responsive interventions that redress the effects of adverse childhood events so that individuals have opportunities to experience academic success and positively contribute to their community; (3) effecting educational policies and countering the effects of poverty and trauma (e.g., historical, intergenerational) experienced by indigenous and marginalized students. Paulina plans to merge her teaching experience with research activities, and apply and share this knowledge with educational stakeholders to positively engage students in school and improve their lives and communities.