Meet Dana Thompson, Administrative Licensure '21

This EdD candidate centers students on the margins

From Dana Thompson’s earliest days working in education, she knew she wanted to work with students and families who are marginalized by mainstream education practices.

Dana Thompson headshot

Thompson '23 earned a special education administrative license through the Hamline School of Education and Leadership and is now working toward a Doctorate in Education (EdD). Her certification helped her achieve her current position as a supervisor of middle school special education programming and support services in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district.

“I've spent my career working with and advocating for students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and others,” Thompson said. “Every student is unique, and support services help address each student's individual needs related to disability, mental health, culture, financial status, and beyond."

Thompson hopes to work as a school superintendent someday, a personal goal that drove her pursuit of an EdD. Along the way, Thompson has found the lessons and connections she's made to be immediately helpful in her work and personal life.

I've learned something about leadership and working with teams and turned around and used it the next day at work. The friendships I made have been enduring too, and I often reach out to the people in my cohort for advice and ideas.

Dana Thompson '23, EdD; special education supervisor at ISD 191

Her classroom work complete, Thompson is now working on her dissertation about trans teachers' experiences as they publicly transition while working. Her research explores workplace protections; parent, colleague, and student reactions; and avenues for advocacy, Thompson said.

Thompson, who transitioned while working and attending classes at Hamline, found little academic research and few personal narratives to support her journey.

“I started in my district presenting male (as I was assigned at birth) and transitioned while working two years ago. If I had someone I could look to, I would not have waited so long,” Thompson explained.

Thompson shares openly about her experience and hopes that her research and lived experience will help future generations of teachers as she becomes the role model she wished she had.

“I want to help create an environment that welcomes trans teachers and builds acceptance among students,” Thompson said. “I hope to improve how districts support their transgender staff and students and demonstrate the value of transgender teachers when it comes to representation and student advocacy.”