Avery Castellani - Washington College

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"Avery is an exceptional student and leader. She is acutely aware of the role that educators play in the advancement of the collective good, and this understanding drives her commitment to academic success. Avery comes to each of her classes as a highly skilled yet intellectually humble and curious communicator; she is a careful listener, an expert writer, and a natural consensus builder...[she] is similarly committed to both inclusive leadership and individual excellence."

Dr. Mike Sosulski 
President, Washington College

My most impactful civic-engagement contributions have arisen out of Washington College’s Elementary Education program. Through my professors, I’ve served as a research assistant for the Busload of Books project – helping measure literacy attitudes of Title-1 students across the nation – and as a tutor of aspiring first-generation college students at a local nonprofit. These opportunities, along with my teaching placements at our local elementary school, have allowed me to reflect on concepts I’ve learned inside the classroom, whether the importance of scaffolding learning around student strengths or the significance of authenticity in building student motivation. Applying pedagogical theory from the classroom within service learning and public research opportunities has strengthened my relationships with my mentees and students in the local community, and it is the reason why I would like to further my understandings of civic engagement and JEDI best-practices through this fellowship.

On campus, I serve as the senior advisor of the club, “EROS” (Encouraging Respect of All Sexualities), and I have served as an unrelenting advocate in the fight against banning LGBTQIA+ content in schools and libraries. Being a part of this club has sharpened my alreadystrong sense of justice. I have gained the insight and confidence necessary to participate in protests across the Mid-Atlantic and to partner with other student identity-based organizations to strengthen student-to-student support systems. Such advocacy has helped me develop skills in community organizing and group-centered leadership, whether working to plan events, reaching out to allied organizations, conducting campus polls, or answering questions for our student newspaper.

I’m beyond excited to participate in the Transform Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellowship this year. I’m especially looking forward to working with other members of the fellowship to learn more about grassroots organizing for justice and equity as well as how to influence local, state, and national legislation. I seek to make a positive difference in our community and to advocate for schools, students, and teachers everywhere. The Civic Fellowship will be a key step in achieving those goals and I look forward to working with others who share a similar vision for education and civic engagement.

Avery Castellani

2023-2024 Transform Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellow