Oona Fontanella-Nothom, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Oona Fontanella-Nothom
Charter College of Education
Curriculum and Instruction
Office Location: KH A3045
Email: ofontan@calstatela.edu


Dr. Oona Fontanella-Nothom (she/hers), is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Division of Curriculum and Instruction. She joined the faculty of Cal State LA in fall 2019 and teaches courses in the Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in early childhood education program as well as courses open to all Master of Arts in Education students.

Dr. Fontanella-Nothom's doctoral dissertation, "Little People Can Learn About Race": Thinking with The Wake in a First-Grade Classroom won the Dissertation of the Year award from the Critical Perspective in Early Childhood Education (CPECE) Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Assocation in 2020. More information about this award and group can be found here. The aim's of Dr. Fontanella-Nothom's dissertation study was to examine the processes that unfold in the classroom when teaching about topics of race, racism, and antiblackness with first-grade students. In doing so, Dr. Fontanella-Nothom chose to think with Dr. Christina Sharpe’s (2016) book In The Wake: On Blackness and Being as a thinking-conceptual-theoretical tool in relation to classroom pedagogical moves. The intersections of first graders, pedagogies on race and racism, and theoretical tools of antiblackness provide a provocative and engaging discussion in contemporary educational spaces.

Dr. Fontanella-Nothom’s research/teaching interests are centered on the following topics:

  • How topics of race and racism are taught and learned in early childhood classrooms, and more generally, how issues of social justice are taken up and lived out in schools;
  • A (re)conceptualizing traditional notions of children and childhoods;
  • Collaborative teacher-researcher inquiries;
  • Innovative qualitative inquiry and methodologies; with special attention to approaches which draw from critical, feminist, decolonial, and poststructural ways of thinking.


Fontanella-Nothom, O. (2021). “Ethical viewing practices”: First-Graders experiencing racism in Let the Children March. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, 70. https://doi.org/10.1177/23813377211036198

Hancock, T. S., & Fontanella-Nothom, O. (2020). Becoming with/in excess(es) and mess(es): Pedagogies of sustainment (POSt). Qualitative Inquiry.

King, C. U., Fontanella-Nothom, O., & Zapata, A. (2019). An exploration of Black History through Afro-Diaspora literature for children and youth (pp. 55-78). In L. J. King (Ed.), Perspectives on the teaching of Black History in schools. Information Age Publishing.

Fontanella-Nothom, O. (2019). “Why do we have different skins anyway?”: Exploring race in literature with preschool children. Multicultural Perspectives, 21(1), 11-18.

Kuby, C. R., Zapata, A., & Fontanella-Nothom, O. (2019). Teaching and learning literacy in early childhood programs: Crossroads and intersections. In C. P. Brown, M. McMullen, & N. File(Eds.), Handbook of Early Childhood Care and Education. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell Publishing.

Kuby, C. R., & Fontanella-Nothom, O. (2018). (Re)imagining writers and writing: The end of the book and the beginning of writing. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, 67, 310-326. DOI: 10.1177/2381336918786257


Ph.D. Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum, emphasis in Early Childhood Education, Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Research

  • University of Missouri

M.A. Social and Cultural Analysis of Education, emphasis in Urban Contexts

  • California State University, Long Beach

B.A. Early Childhood Development

  • Chapman University College