“Education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.”

John Dewey

Sharing the wonder of discovery! Our third grade class is entranced by an otter at the Virginia Living Museum

William and Mary’s School of Education has designed a Conceptual Framework to identify and describe the essential competencies mastered by its graduates. I entered the program almost thirty years after my college graduation. While I needed to re-orient myself to the demands of formal study and to new technologies and resources, I realized that these gaps were balanced by my life experiences.

Working in and with elementary schools as a parent, PTA volunteer, and early childhood educator provided me with a framework on which to develop these essential competencies. Over my year of study at William and Mary, I have demonstrated my qualifications in each strand of the School of Education’s conceptual framework. I am prepared to enter the educational workforce as a content expert, effective collaborator, educational leader, and reflective practitioner.

"A content expert has pedagogical content knowledge, a commitment to intellectualism, and the ability to organize and transfer knowledge."
As an avid life-long learner, I have a wide and expanding breadth of knowledge across all content areas. I am insatiably curious and ardently pursue specific interests until I have run them to ground. As a parent of two grown children, I also have familiarity with elementary curriculum topics such as children’s literature and science investigations. As an early childhood educator for a decade, I am very comfortable with interactive read-alouds and classroom management techniques. My curriculum and instruction classwork at William and Mary supplemented these strengths by teaching me specific research-based pedagogies. Through these methods courses, I learned how to translate my knowledge into meaningful classroom instruction and was able to apply this pedagogical expertise in both my practicum experience and student teaching. I can now deliver my wide foundational understanding through direct instruction, questioning strategies, and collaborative learning. I also learned how to differentiate instruction, to assess student knowledge, and to group students for optimal learning.
William and Mary's 2010-2011 Elementary Education Cohort

"An effective collaborator effectively engages in interactive processes of learning that involve reciprocity."
William and Mary's School of Education emphasized groupwork across all content areas. My effectiveness as a collaborator grew as I teamed with peers to create multiple lesson plans in social studies and science. In a spring course focused exclusively on collaboration in the elementary school setting, I gained additional collaborative experience by working with a school counseling intern on a student case study and co-teaching a mathematics lesson with my placement school's math specialist. After a year of close collaboration and reflection in our coursework and our placement classrooms, our elementary education cohort is already planning to continue our partnership as we enter our future classrooms. Having established a routine of sharing ideas and websites via Diigo and other online technologies, Franny Cornelliussen and I recently created the Think-Plan-Share wiki on which we can post lesson plans for our cohort's future collaborative use. Most importantly, I benefited from close collaboration with my wonderful cooperating teacher who was an inspiring and astute mentor. We worked as an effective team in this veteran educator's third grade classroom - sharing ideas, reflecting on best practices, and discussing curriculum resources, classroom assessments, and the state standardized end-of-year exams. The feedback and support I received from my cooperating teacher and the entire third grade team were essential to the success of my student teaching. I am tremendously appreciative of the nurturing climate of Matoaka Elementary school and its amazing third grade staff.


"A reflective practitioner articulates his or her ideas, experiments with the ideas of others, and makes connections to the world in which he or she lives. For reflective practitioners, teaching is a cognitive process."
While I have always been predisposed to self-reflection, William and Mary's education program has emphasized the fundamental role that this reflection plays in the growth and development of an effective educator. In all of our methods classes, we have been called on to reflect on each of our written lesson plans as well as the collaboration and communication within our cohort teams. This methodical self-assessment also underscores the need for us to keep our teaching dynamic and flexible. In the course of my eight one-on-one reading tutorial sessions, I reflected after each student meeting and shifted my instruction as needed. Going forward, I am committed to revising and refining my lessons in order to tailor them to each year's unique roster of students and the changing demands of an evolving curriculum.

"An educational leader provides leadership beyond the classroom and school, serves as a mentor, and engages in educational research."
In my previous educational leadership experience, I learned that a positive and energetic focus can elevate and motivate. While working as a teacher, management consultant, preschool administrator, or PTA volunteer, I share my naturally extroverted manner and positive outlook and always work diligently to connect with and invest in the people with whom I interact. I feel that this upbeat perspective is an effective problem-solving strategy because it assumes that a solution is inevitable, simply awaiting discovery, and can be effected through methodical work, steady commitment, and a belief in the good intentions of others. The William and Mary program afforded me unexpected opportunities to share lesson plans and research with colleagues and on the internet. I was honored to represent William and Mary when I was selected by the elementary education faculty to be the cohort's delegate to the 2011 Teachers of Promise Institute. I was also able to demonstrate leadership in meetings with university faculty to discuss issues within the cohort. In these many roles, I believe that my optimism and engagement help me as I attempt to problem-solve in the classroom and in life.

My graduation from William and Mary's elementary education masters program is the fulfillment of more than two decades of good intentions. My desire to return to teaching in an elementary classroom was delayed by frequent family moves, my desire to be available for my children, and my rewarding part-time work in an early childhood setting. However, the experience I have gained over the last twenty three years has proven to be fundamental to my current abilities as a content expert, effective collaborator, reflective practitioner, and educational leader. I am confident that the competencies attained through my William and Mary education and my student teaching experience are a solid foundation for my future growth as a classroom teacher. I am excited and eager to begin the classroom teaching that I have anticipated for so long.