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San Francisco Educational Director Creates Learning Experiences

Kelly Mendoza is the director of Professional Development, Education Programs at Common Sense Education. Mendoza has a Doctorate of Philosophy in media and communication from Temple University. Throughout her graduate studies, she taught college courses in communication and media studies. Mendoza also worked as a research assistant studying the impact of media literacy in schools, and developing curriculum and education programs to help kids be critical consumers and creators of media. In Mendoza's dissertation, she researched how parents help guide their kids' Internet use. Mendoza's research led her to discover the nonprofit organization, Common Sense Media. Mendoza was hired originally as a curriculum writer for their digital citizenship curriculum, and grew into her current role of managing their professional development offerings for schools.

(Photo Courtesy of Kelly Mendoza)

What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?

"Schools are increasingly incorporating technology like laptops, tablets, apps into classrooms, and teachers need help understanding how this all fits into - and changes - their teaching. In my role, I help teachers effectively integrate technology and media into their teaching utilizing Common Sense Education's free programs. I develop courses, videos, webinars and presentations, which are distributed online and on the ground through our outreach team that provides professional development to teachers. Ultimately, the goal is for students to be able to harness the power of technology for learning."

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

"The favorite part of my day is creating, whether it's producing a video showcasing a classroom lesson or designing an online learning experience for a teacher. It's rewarding being able to create things that can have a direct impact on schools. I work with an extremely talented team, so we are often collaborating and sharing ideas. It's definitely not quiet in our corner of the office!"

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

"I'm passionate about bridging academic research to practice, affecting what's actually happening in schools. My background in understanding the impact of media on kids and the challenges parents and teachers face in a world where kids spend so much time with screens, provided me expertise for my role, especially since I create content related to these areas. My background in media literacy - helping kids be critical consumers and creators of media - influences the education programs I've developed."

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

"When I was completing my PhD program, I saw myself staying on an academic track, becoming a professor or researcher at a university. But my advice is to keep your options open. Are there companies or organizations who would value your expertise, maybe that you haven't considered? In my field, education technology (edtech) is booming. There's a lot happening in Silicon Valley with education app developers, tech companies, nonprofits and schools. It's exciting being in a part of it, but I originally didn't see myself here. I'm glad I expanded my options!"

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of and Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on

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