About me

I am an educator, researcher, data scientist, and writer. I am currently the Associate Director of Early Childhood Data and Analytics at the Virginia Department of Education, where I lead efforts to use data to improve and expand Virginia’s early childhood programming. In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, data visualization/analysis, going to the gym, and spending time with friends & family (including my pup, Nala).

I earned my PhD in educational psychology from the VCU School of Education in July 2019, where I worked in the Motivation and Self-Regulation Lab and in the Cognition and Learning Lab to study students’ motivation, behaviors, and achievement. In my dissertation, I studied how writers’ daily emotional states (think: anxiety, enjoyment, boredom) influenced their productivity as well as the day-to-day inertia of these emotional states.

During grad school, I discovered a love for working with data – exploring, visualizing, modeling, and communicating. I mostly work in R, and am proficient in the usual packages that folks use for data analysis, visualization, and modeling (e.g. the {tidyverse} and {tidymodels} suites), plus some more specialized packages. I really enjoy discovering new R packages and learning new things that R can do. I’m (very slowly) learning to code in python – there’s not much free time with an infant in the house – and hope to find time to pick up Julia and D3.js as well.


Professional Experience

Associate Director of Early Childhood Data and Analytics
Virginia Department of Education
(April 2019 - present)

Affiliate Research Faculty
VCU School of Education
(July 2019 - present)

Graduate Research Assistant
VCU School of Education
(August 2016 - April 2019)

English Language Arts Teacher
Chesterfield County Public Schools
(November 2012 - June 2016)


PhD in Educational Psychology (2019)
Virginia Commonwealth University

MT in English Education (2012)
Virginia Commonwealth University

BA in English (2010)
Virginia Tech

Technical Skills & Tools

  • Programming: R, SQL

  • Statistics/Modeling: R, Mplus, Blimp, Stata, Excel, SPSS

    • Proficient in several modeling approaches/frameworks, including inferential modeling, predictive modeling, unsupervised learning, meta-analysis, text mining/analysis, and more.
  • Visualization: R, Inkscape


See my list of publications on my publications page.

Grants and Awards


John Templeton Foundation Large Grant Program (2020), $799,935

  • Jirout, J. (PI), Vitiello, V. (Co-PI)
  • Title: Curiosity and Classrooms: An exploration of curiosity and the development of intellectual virtues in schools
  • Role: Statistical/Methodological Consultant

Virginia Commonwealth University Graduate Student Seed Funding (2018), $1,424

  • Ekholm, E. (PI)
  • Title: Investigating Daily Writing Emotions, Self-Regulation, and Productivity: An Intensive Longitudinal Study


  • Virginia Commonwealth University Schumacher Fund for Dissertation Research, February 2018

  • Virginia Tech Creative Writing Award – Nonfiction, May 2010.