A graduate of Duke University and American University, Mary Margaret Kerr is Professor and former 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, which includes children as researchers, studies the experiences of young tourists at difficult heritage sites such as the Flight 93 (9/11) National Memorial, the Pentagon Memorial, and the Johnstown Flood National Memorial and Museum. This work will appear in the forthcoming research handbook: Kerr, M.M., Stone, P. S., & Price, R. Children, young people, and dark tourism. Abingdon, England: Routledge.
Her second area of research explores the emotional lives of teachers and students in K-12 schools, especially during crisis. With C. Michael Nelson, she authored Strategies for Addressing Behavioral Problems in the Classroom, now in its 6th edition. In 2018, she first authored School Crisis Prevention and Intervention, in its second edition.
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.