What program(s) do you teach at Point Park University?
At Point Park University, I teach courses at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral level focusing on PreK-4 Education, Technology Integration, Reading Methods and Research Methods. I have developed and revised courses for the undergraduate PreK-4 program and supervise students in the initial certification student teaching program.
Over the past five years, I have also served as the Assessment Coordinator for the School of Education. At the graduate level, I have developed new M. Ed. programs in reading specialist certification, as well as athletic coaching. I have served as a Chair of Dissertations in the Doctoral Program and served on Dissertation Committees.
What drew you to this field of study?
I began my career as an elementary teacher. Throughout my time in the classroom, I often served as a cooperating teacher to student teachers. I valued my role as a mentor to preservice teachers, and I realized I had a passion for working with students new to the field of teaching. I decided to earn my master’s and doctorate in reading education because I saw firsthand how difficult (and rewarding) it is to teach students how to read.
What keeps you excited about it?
Education is constantly evolving. Teachers are focusing on student-centered learning with an emphasis on collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. Our programs at Point Park University are research-based and provide students with a well-rounded education. We offer a variety of experiences for students including: time spent in the K-12 classroom beginning freshman year, study abroad opportunities (including student teaching abroad) and STEM-focused education through the use of our new Makerspace Lab.
How will your program(s) better prepare/equip educators for the current climate we’re in, specifically with COVID-19 and the move to online/hybrid learning?
Our faculty have always focused on best practices and preparing our students for the current classroom. We utilize a variety of technology in our coursework and model effective techniques for lesson planning, classroom management, instruction, and professional development. We have partnered with organizations such as Common Sense Media and our students have the opportunity to earn a Badge of Distinction from Common Sense Media that demonstrates their thorough understanding of appropriate and valuable technology integration across different modes of delivery.
What attracted you to Point Park University to teach at? What sets them apart?
Point Park University is a wonderful institution located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. The university supports the various initiatives in the School of Education with new programs and unique opportunities for students and faculty. We offer small class sizes and the faculty get to know our students on an individual basis. Our master’s courses are offered fully online to accommodate working professionals. The faculty in the School of Education at Point Park University have diverse backgrounds with extensive experience in education. It is truly a pleasure to teach at Point Park University.
What is your professional background (including degrees) as an educator?
Prior to joining Point Park, I was a Research Assistant and University Liaison for the Reading Specialist Intern Program at the University of Pittsburgh. During my doctoral studies, I participated in New York University’s Steinhardt Global Program at the Institute of Education in London and Oxford, England.
Before beginning my doctoral program at the University of Pittsburgh, I was a second-grade teacher and kindergarten teacher at Takoma Park Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland, and a third-grade teacher at St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, Maryland. I earned my M.Ed. in Reading Education and Reading Specialist certification from the University of Virginia and my Ed.D. in Reading Education from the University of Pittsburgh. I have published work and presented both nationally and internationally on children’s literature and reading.
Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you become interested in education?
I wanted to pursue a career where I knew I could make a difference. Teaching has brought me so much joy and I am committed to education. Because of my career in education, I have had opportunities to research, travel, and coach, and I have spent time with exceptional students, staff, and faculty.
What would you tell prospective students considering your program about yourself? What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?
I am passionate about teaching and learning. I look forward to teaching each and every course and getting to know my students. I also love being a student and learning new techniques and methods to better prepare my students. Recently, I have been focusing on STEM Education in connection to literacy. This past summer, I worked on a grant that focuses on interdisciplinary STEM Education in a Makerspace Lab.
What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing their M.Ed. degree? How can people stand out in these fields?
Having a career in education takes a special person. It is hard work, but it is worth it! Students can stand out in our field by demonstrating a commitment to teaching, learning, and students. It is also important to take advantage of every opportunity and reflect often on your learning and progress.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
The faculty in the School of Education at Point Park University are thrilled to offer a new M.Ed. program in PreK-4 Education. Our program is comprehensive and will prepare students to teach successfully in a variety of educational settings. We look forward to working with future students in the program!