Jolan Smith is a graduate student in the Joint Doctoral program in Special Education with California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She currently works on several research projects including one with incarcerated youth with disabilities, a school-based intervention project for restorative justice, and an independent study of African American parental involvement with their children with disabilities.
Her research interests include African American students and families in special education, special education teacher preparation, and outcomes for low- income, urban, ethnic minorities. A Los Angeles native, Jolan earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Stanford University, and a Master’s degree in Special Education, with emphasis in moderate-severe disabilities, from California State University, Dominguez Hills. She was a special education classroom teacher for 2 years at a non-public school in Compton, CA, serving students with learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disabilities, before securing a 7 year position at Hawthorne High School teaching students with moderate/severe disabilities.
During that time, she also successfully served as the faculty advisor for the Black Student Union (BSU), encouraging students to learn about African & African American culture, coordinating school-wide cultural assemblies, college trips and exploration, and more. It was during this time that Jolan saw a need for SAT prep for these students of color and began the first SAT BootCamp at Lincoln Family Life Center in fall of 2009. These students did not have real options for SAT prep: the school did not offer a course, and outside agencies/groups charged a great deal of money, a cost these students’ families could not cover.
As a result, we offered the first BootCamp at a steal of $25 (basically to cover the cost of the prep book) and assisted the students in reviewing the book, practicing the strategies, and providing timed practice tests and feedback.