Assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Christopher Thomas, Ph.D., is sharing his passion for the intersection of the law and education as co-host of the podcast Chalk and Gavel. With an impressive academic background, including a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in English Education, a Juris Doctor, and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy, all from The Ohio State University, Thomas seamlessly blends his passion for teaching, law and policy.

From English Teacher to Legal Advocate

Growing up surrounded by educators—his parents are retired classroom teachers—Thomas developed an early love for learning. He was driven to improve education and started his journey as an English teacher after receiving his master’s degree. He quickly realized that he wanted to make a greater impact on the education system, leading him to go back for his J.D. and Ph.D. After earning his law degree, he practiced law in Columbus, Ohio, primarily representing public school districts. 

Through this experience, Thomas recognized a gap in most people’s knowledge of educational laws and decided to address it by creating Chalk and Gavel. The podcast delves into specific court cases, shedding light on the intricate ways the law influences educational policies and practices—one case at a time. “Everything in schools is done for a reason, and those reasons often have legal dimensions,” stated Thomas. “We want to make those connections more visible so that educators feel empowered to navigate the law in ways that advance their educational goals.”

Now an assistant professor at the University of Florida, Thomas reflects on his initial connection with UF, reminiscing about a tough loss to the Gators in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game while he was a student at Ohio State University. Despite the loss, he is excited about being part of the UF community, praising the support of his College of Education colleagues. While the podcast is still in its early stages, feedback from students and professionals in the field has been overwhelmingly positive. Due to this success, Thomas plans to integrate specific podcast episodes into his education law classes.

Chalk and Gavel Podcast: Illuminating Educational Laws

Thomas and his co-host Jamie Kudlats, an assistant professor at UNC Charlotte, aim to make legal topics accessible and entertaining. They’re confident this approach will empower educators and stakeholders to navigate the law confidently. After wanting to start an educational law podcast for many years, Thomas approached Kudlats, who was a middle school principal before earning his Ph.D. “After seeing how passionate and knowledgeable he was about education, I was excited at how his educational leadership experience could complement my legal background,” Thomas stated. 

The pair incorporates discussions of current events in education and law, ensuring that their audience remains informed and up-to-date. Thomas and Kudlats’ podcast, Chalk and Gavel, is a testament to their passion and expertise in education law. Together, they aim to make the complexities of education law accessible and empowering for educators and enthusiasts alike.

Listen to Chalk and Gavel wherever you get your podcasts. Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts

A headshot of Christopher Thomas. He is wearing a blue checkered shirt and is standing in the Norman Hall Courtyard at the University of Florida College of Education.

Christopher Thomas, Ph.D.