This past May, Jane Lee, ESIA ’08, was awarded the Harvard Graduate School of Education Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for the Human Development and Psychology Program.
The award, which recognizes 13 students (one from each Ed.M. program), honors the recipients’ dedication to scholarship and the ways in which each student enhanced the academic life of the community and positively impacted their fellow students. The award is the result of an education social venture called Kirality Lab.
“It is an incredible honor to have received the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute award,” Jane says. “I hope to use this award as an opportunity to continue to promote social emotional learning skills (SELs) in the classroom and beyond through Kirality Lab.”
The Kirality Lab, which Jane developed with a fellow master’s student, Karen Choi, designs, develops, and delivers formative assessments on social and emotional learning, and was a semifinalist in Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition.
“I believe social emotional learning skills are pivotal in creating more productive and positive societies,” says Jane, “Kirality Lab will help to create and advocate for more effective environments for students to enhance their social and emotional learning capacities.”
Jane’s desire to change the way we educate our children came from her experiences at GW and as a Fulbright Scholar. After growing up on Long Island in Syosset, New York, Jane made her way to D.C. to pursue her passion for international affairs at the Elliott School. “I was interested in the opportunity to learn from experts in the field, gain valuable insight on diplomacy through unique internships and work experiences, and learn about the political climate in the U.S. and abroad,” Jane says.
There, she found inspiration among her peers and professors by working at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, an opportunity that allowed her to form bonds with faculty and staff, including Professor Gregg Brazinsky and Professor Henry Nau. “[The Sigur Center] was a particularly special place on campus because I interacted with some brilliant professors outside of the classroom and formed some wonderful friendships,” she says.
She later pursued a more global perspective and took a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea. “The Fulbright program provided a unique opportunity to connect my international affairs degree to my keen interest in learning more about the Korean culture and living among South Koreans,” says Jane, “While Korea’s education system is competitive and intense, my time as a Fulbright ETA was one of the most gratifying, humbling, and joyful experiences of my life.” It was this that led her to the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“I loved teaching and valued every interaction with my students,” Jane says. “I wanted to learn more about the psychological and developmental transformations that occur from adolescence to adulthood … the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Human Development and Psychology program was a perfect fit.”
Jane is now focused on developing Kirality Lab into a global learning tool. “I hope to be a pivotal player in supporting the social and emotional learning space around the world. I want to help every learner live more productive, engaging and meaningful lives,” she says.
“I still believe teaching is the most important profession in the world.”