2021 Parnell headshot Emily Caruso Parnell

Emily Caruso Parnell holds degrees in Dance and Education from York University, the University of New Brunswick and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a candidate in the Doctorate of Education program at Athabasca University. Emily is a registered teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance and is a content advisor for the Sharing Dance program of Canada’s National Ballet School. Emily teaches in the French and English Schools of Education at Laurentian University, writes, on a freelance basis, for a number of media outlets and is a school administrator for the Rainbow District School Board. Emily is also a longtime community volunteer and woman of many causes.

Title: Dancing in the Eye of the Storm: Improvisation in the Development of a COVID-19-era Virtual School

Abstract: In this dissertation, I will use epistolary evocative autoethnography to explore the process and experience of creating and administering a K-12 virtual school during the period of August 2020 to June 2022, during the COVID-19 pandemic. I will use the framework of improvisational practice in the Arts, as well as research in Organizational Improvisation and disaster management, to examine what it was like to adapt and evolve pedagogical and administrative structures to fit the novel context of universalizing distance education in a system of public education. I will interrogate my own creative process as an artist-educator-administrator and reflect on what this experience has taught me about leading in a time of crisis and what it might look like to expand distance learning more permanently in Canadian public schools.


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