Mary Margaret Kerr

Apply to the School of Education
Mary Margaret Kerr

Mary Margaret Kerr

University of Pittsburgh
5911 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 412-648-7205

Faculty - Department Chairperson

A graduate of Duke University and American University, Mary Margaret Kerr is Professor and Chair of Administrative and Policy Studies, Professor of Psychology in Education, and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. Also licensed as a superintendent, Dr. Kerr has worked in urban school districts throughout her academic career. In the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Kerr initially directed school-based research and training programs. Taking a public service leave from the University, Dr. Kerr served Pittsburgh City Schools as Director of Pupil Services. In 1995, Dr. Kerr was appointed by the federal court in California to serve as Consent Decree Administrator for the Chanda Smith special education case in LAUSD, where she worked for nearly a decade to reform all special education services for over 82,000 students. Returning to the University, Dr. Kerr directed training services for the University’s youth suicide and violence prevention center, STAR-Center, which provides crisis response services, training, and policy consultation to school districts and agencies across Pennsylvania.

Dr. Kerr’s research team studies the experiences of children who visit and correspond with the Flight 93 (9/11) National Memorial, the Pentagon Memorial, and other such dark heritage sites. Her second area of research explores the emotional lives of teachers and students in K-12 schools. With C. Michael Nelson, she authored Strategies for Addressing Behavioral Problems in the Classroom, now in its 6th edition. In 2009, she authored School Crisis Prevention and Intervention.

Dr. Kerr is the recipient of the Jean Winsand Distinguished Woman in Education Award, the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, the Provost's ACIE Award for Innovation in Education, and the Department of Psychiatry Teaching Award.

School Affiliations

Recent Grants

Recent Publications

  • Kerr, M. M., & Price, R. H. (2016). Overlooked encounters: young tourists' experiences at dark sites. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 11(2) 177-185.
  • Kerr, M. M. & Price, R. H. (in press). "I Know the Plane Crashed": Children's Perspectives in Dark Tourism. In P. Stone, R. Hartmann, T. Seaton, R. Sharpley, & L. White (Eds.), Palgrave Handbook of Dark Tourism Studies, London: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Kerr, M. M. & Brown, E. L. (2016). Preventing school failure for teachers, revisited: Special educators explore their emotional labor. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 60(2) 143-151.
  • Shaffer, A. & Kerr, M. M. (2015). "Can you tell my child what happened here?"--- Explaining the Story of United Flight 93. Ranger. [Magazine of the Association of National Park Rangers]
  • Valenti, M.W., Kerr, M.M., & King, G. (in press). Evidence informed suicide prevention in schools, 8th Edition. In C. Massat, R. Constable,& M. Kelly (Eds.). School Social Work. Chicago: Lyceum Books.
  • Brown, E.L., Valenti, M.,& Kerr, M.M. (in press). Building Emotional Supports: How Teachers' Emotional Labor Informs Therapeutic Alliances for Youth with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Report on Emotional & Behavioral Disorders in Youth.
  • More