Amy Rector-Aranda

Assistant Professor of Education

Amy Rector-Aranda teaches her courses through the perspective of critically compassionate intellectualism, or what she refers to as “a trilogy of critical, democratic pedagogy, authentic care and compassion and a social justice curriculum and purpose.” 

Inside the classroom, Rector-Aranda strives to develop the kind of authenticity, care, empathy and trust within a classroom community that facilitates deeper learning and growth for all. She values connecting with each student as an individual and makes a concerted effort to both mentor their research and to include them in her own research. She has traveled overseas with students to present their research at international conferences and centers her scholarship on the relational, critical and structural contexts of teaching and learning.

She believes that the liberal arts foundation that Transylvania offers to all students, regardless of academic discipline, will be valuable in helping future teachers gain a holistic and realistic understanding of the potential and pitfalls of the education system. 

Rector-Aranda also praises the Transylvania education program for its unique education and social change minor. “With this focus, students who want to be involved in education beyond (or in addition to) teaching in the classroom can gain the requisite knowledge to be change-makers and innovators in other ways, such as through counseling and other social services, nonprofit work, policy making and so on,” she said. “Transy students in both pathways receive unapologetically anti-racist, culturally responsive training that prepares them to tackle some of society’s most pressing dilemmas, wherever they end up working and serving.”

As a person with fibromyalgia, Rector-Aranda’s hobbies outside of the classroom vary based on how she is feeling. When she’s not feeling well, she enjoys babysitting family friends, spending time with her family’s two dogs and binge-watching period dramas, sci-fi and fantasy shows. When she’s feeling better, she also enjoys watercolor and oil painting, playing the piano, home renovation, traveling and riding her vintage motorcycle.

Academic History

Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, 2017
M.A., University of Cincinnati, 2013
B.A., Northern Kentucky University, 2012


Outstanding Journal of Teacher Education Article Award, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2020.
Honoring Excellence Award, Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs, 2019.

Courses Taught at Transy

Foundations of Education
Schooling in U.S. Culture
Philosophy of Education
Critical Frameworks in Education

Areas of Research/Specialization

Foundations of education
Relational-cultural theory in education
Critical pedagogy
Critical race theory in education
Culturally responsive/relevant/sustaining pedagogies
Educating for democracy
Multicultural education/ethnic studies
Urban education
Educational and community-based action research

Recent Publications

Colón, I., James, M., Chowdhury, M., Rector-Aranda, A., & Burgess, M. (2020). In search of confianza: A qualitative analysis of Salvadoran parents’ experiences in U.S. urban schools. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 22(1), 35–52.

Rector-Aranda, A. (2019 [online first, 2018]). Critically compassionate intellectualism in teacher education: The contributions of relational-cultural theory. Journal of Teacher Education, 70(4), 388–400.

Gilley, T., & Rector-Aranda, A. (2019). Closing the revolving door: Year-long residency prepares preservice teachers for urban schools. Urban Education Research & Policy Annuals, 6(2), 26–33.

Raider-Roth, M. B., Rector-Aranda, A., Kaiser, T., Lipinsky Saltarik, L., Weikel, A., Wolkenfeld, S., & Zaidenberg, L. (2019). Shared power, risk-taking, and innovation: Participatory action research in Jewish education. Journal of Jewish Education, 85(2), 187-208.

Rector-Aranda, A. (2019). Student responses to critically compassionate intellectualism in teacher education for social justice. In A. E. Lopez & E. L. Olan (Eds.), Transformative pedagogies for teacher education: Critical action, agency, and dialogue in teaching and learning contexts (pp. 133–151). Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing.

Rector-Aranda, A. (2019). The function of freedom: Practitioner action research in emancipatory social justice teacher education. In C. A. Mertler (Ed.), The Wiley handbook of action research in education (pp. 481-496). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.