In education circles Carol Ann Tomlinson is known as the guru of differentiation. One of the nation’s foremost authorities on teaching effectively in mixed-ability classrooms, Tomlinson has been recently named the William Clay Parrish, Jr., Professor of Education at the Curry School.
“True differentiation recognizes that learners vary in their readiness to learn, interests, and learning profiles,” she explains. “Teachers can set up classrooms where everybody works toward essential knowledge, understanding, and skill, but with different support systems for learning. Differentiation is about providing students with different options for learning,” she adds, “not about piling on more work for advanced students or just giving strugglers less work that they don’t understand.”
Tomlinson’s research-based work is in such high demand that she has made nearly 700 presentations and keynote addresses to school districts and professional associations across the country and abroad since joining the Curry School in 1991. She has authored 15 books on the topics of differentiated instruction and curriculum, some of which have been translated into twelve languages.
This year, U.Va. rewarded Tomlinson’s exemplary work with the prestigious All University Teaching Award. In addition to receiving the endowed chair last summer, she was named chair of Curry’s Department of Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy. She is also co-director of the University of Virginia Institutes on Academic Diversity.
“The endowed chair will be very beneficial in at least two ways,” says Tomlinson. “The opportunity to hold an endowed chair will bring positive attention to the work I do. It will also directly support the research my students and I do on supporting equity and excellence in classroom instruction for academically diverse student populations.”
by Lynn Bell
photo by Dan Addison
The William Clay Parrish, Jr., Professorship was established in 1983 by William C. Parrish, Sr. (M.Ed. ’55), and Marianna H. Parrish (M.Ed. ’52) of Vienna, Virginia, in memory of their son Clay, a 1980 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences. This professorship was the first established in the Curry School since 1905, when the lead gift by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., funded the school’s opening. Mr. Parrish was a founding member of the Curry School Foundation and served two terms as its president. The Parrish chair was formerly held by Professor Robert H. Pate, Jr., who retired in June 2008.