Audrey Lensmire2015 Rising Alumni

Audrey Lensmire photo

Dr. Audrey Lensmire is a passionate educator and scholar who has garnered a growing national reputation for her work. Her well received book—White urban teachers: Stories of fear, violence, and desire—was the outgrowth of her dissertation work. She’s also been published in the Harvard Educational Review, one of the nation’s leading education journals, and was recently invited to contribute a chapter to an edited volume responding to the violence against young black men in the United States. In addition to her scholarship, Dr. Lensmire is the director of Augsburg College’s new East African Student to Teacher Program (EAST). The program has received national attention for its innovative approach to teacher preparation support.


Assistant Professor,
Augsburg College

CEHD Degree

Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a journalist for Life Magazine. I wanted to travel around the world and write stories about real people.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

Earning a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota was the fulfillment of a life-long dream. The benefits of the educational experience were numerous – I am working as an assistant professor of education at Augsburg College (a job I love); I published my dissertation as a book; and I continue to learn, present at conferences, and write with my colleagues from the U.

What skills are important to succeed as an emerging professional today?

Future teachers need to be resourceful and discriminating. There are lots of blogs with tips for teachers, Pinterest communities, and the websites of publishing giants. There is plenty of information out there about what to do in the classroom. But to be a great teacher, they must align themselves with children and families first. Know the children, their "deep" interests, know their needs. Then, sift through what is out there and find what will help their students engage in meaningful work. The best teachers see themselves as powerful curriculum makers.

What gets you excited about work?

I'm most excited about two projects I'm working on now. The first is directing the East African Student to Teacher Program, which is a state-funded scholarship for future teachers of East African origin. We are trying to get it right—financially, academically, and emotionally—in order to support our students and diversify Minnesota's teacher workforce. The second is my work with a small group of white women (who are my former students). We meet monthly to explore the struggles and joys of teaching. This summer we're doing a writers workshop together to explore the relationships between feminism, race, writing, and mental health.

Who has inspired you the most during your career?

There are two people who continue to inspire me in my career – Tim Lensmire and Cynthia Lewis. Both are professors at the U, and I know them personally. Both embody the kind of scholar I strive to be. They are intellectually curious, generous thinkers and teachers, and powerful writers.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

When I have 30 minutes and there's nothing pressing, I nap!