College of Education Professor Dr. Karyn Allee-Herndon Named 2021 William T. Grant AQC Scholar by ICQCM

Dr. Karyn Allee-Herndon

ATLANTA – Mercer University College of Education faculty member Dr. Karyn Allee-Herndon was recently invited by the Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational and Mixed-Methodologies (ICQCM) to participate in the 2021 William T. Grant AQC Scholars cohort.

The William T. Grant Advanced Quantitative and Computational (ACQ) Scholars Program seeks to catalyze research about youth ages 5 to 25 and the institutions that serve them.

Dr. Allee-Herndon is one of 25 scholars in the cohort who will have the opportunity to affiliate with the ICQCM for a two-year period. During this time, she will participate in a series of training seminars facilitated by leading methodologists, researchers and critical theorists. Support also includes personalized coaching and access to foundation resources.

Successful applicants have a track record of conducting high-quality research and an interest in pursuing a significant shift in their trajectories as researchers. Awards are based on applicants’ potential to become influential researchers, as well as their plans to expand their expertise in new and significant ways.

Dr. Allee-Herndon, who serves as assistant professor of elementary education, plans to conduct research on exploring strategies to improve pre-frontal cortex skills; social-emotional learning to support academic achievement; and instructional strategies, including play-based pedagogy, to decrease the opportunity gap and mitigate the effects of poverty. She would like to center her research using both emerging neuroscientific findings about the effects of poverty on developing brain architecture and a Critical Race Theory framework to transform the relationships that sustains systemic racism and power.

Dr. Allee-Herndon earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education with a concentration in early childhood education from the University of Florida and a specialist degree in educational leadership from Stetson University. She came to Mercer’s College of Education from the University of Central Florida, where she earned a Ph.D. in elementary education.

Throughout her 27-year education career, Dr. Allee-Herndon has taught primary grades and worked at the school and district level facilitating professional learning for teachers and administrators at Title I schools in Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida. She also worked to develop early childhood professional learning curriculum, facilitate large district and state educational professional learning implementations and school improvement efforts, and facilitated customized professional learning.

Dr. Allee-Herndon’s early research and grant writing experiences were focused on leadership development and shifting schools’ professional development cultures to professional learning communities to increase student achievement. Currently, she has a grant letter of intent under review to secure funding for a three-year study aiming to study the effects of establishing a play-based pedagogy approach for teaching kindergarten science content to decrease poverty-related opportunity gaps and improve outcomes across academic, behavioral, social-emotional, and physical domains in primary grades.

Recently, her research has focused on how poverty affects student achievement and school readiness, play-based pedagogy as an approach to mitigate the effects of poverty and increase student achievement, vocabulary, executive function, purposeful play as an instructional approach to minimize mental health referrals, how voluntary pre-kindergarten affected student outcomes, and social justice, culturally relevant pedagogy, and equity and social justice in PK-5 education and teacher development.

ICQCM is committed to advancing the use of data science methodologies among scholars at institutions serving predominantly underrepresented students, underrepresented postdoctoral and faculty researchers at all institutions, and those who conduct research with Latina/o/x, Indigenous and Black communities.

Visit for more information about the Institute’s work and to learn about the program sponsor, the William T. Grant Foundation.  

About the College of Education

Mercer University’s Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University’s two regional academic centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Named for the former women’s college that merged with Mercer in 1986, the College of Education offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Educator,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. For more information, visit