“What aspect of your Curry School experience best prepared you for your current job?”
This question was raised to the Curry Alumni Group on LinkedIn seven months ago. Alumni in the group continue to respond, and they are unanimous that regardless of their current profession the Curry School made a difference.
Our LinkedIn group has nearly 1,900 members, leaving over 20,000 alumni who haven’t seen these responses and haven’t been able to contribute their own experiences. So we’re moving the discussion here to the magazine. Take a look at what others have said and add your comments at the end. (Alumni are grouped by decade of their most recent Curry degree year.)
We also invite you to join the LinkedIn group, where you can find alumni working in every imaginable profession. You just might find a great connection there!
Rise Arkin (M.Ed. ’79 Soc Fdns)
Director of Admissions
I earned a master’s degree in Health Education from the Curry School in the late 1970s. Two incredible people I learned from were Dr. Keith Howell and Dr. Jay Segal. Their focus on both theory, practice and the development of strong research skills has proved to be invaluable in my work in health education, teaching and now as an Admissions’ Director in a high school. They also helped to develop a cohesion within our cohort and I developed friendships with the other masters’ students that I maintained for many years.
George Crickenberger (B.S. ’77 Speech Path & Aud; M.Ed. ’79 Couns Ed)
Clinical Support Specialist at MetLife
While there are many positive aspects associated with my several years spent at Curry, probably the most important person who influenced my life and future career excellence in the field of rehabilitation was Dr. Keith Hume. Early in my master’s program, Dr. Hume recommended I look into the field of vocational rehabilitation within the vast array of disability systems as related to the world of work, including but not limited to Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability, and even hinted to me of the future field of Employee Assistance Programs; all in which I have been involved in since leaving UVA and Curry many years ago in such areas as training, supervising and managing. I truly would not have the expertise and professional recognition in my field had it not been for the relentless pursuit of excellence Dr. Hume instilled from the start of my program.
Portia Dischinger (B.S. ’73 Educ)
Data Center Manager at NASA
Although I am no longer a teacher, I did teach mathematics on the secondary and college levels prior to taking a Federal government position. The soundest advice that I received during my Curry training was that I should ask lots of “Why?” and What Next?” questions and keep the students participating mentally, verbally, and physically (at the board, in those days) as much as possible. Students become mathematically proficient by doing math, not watching it.
Larry Fullerton (M.Ed. ’73 Admin & Supv)
CEO/Executive Director at Hope Communities, Inc.
Professor William Sewell was then, during the 1970s, the wise older man of the faculty. He had a special knack for combining theory and practical applications. He reminded us of the difference between art and science, and the need to use both. He described baking a cake, following the recipe in a scientific way, using a straight edge to create a level teaspoonful, and ending up with a disaster. Sometimes science without art doesn’t work, and vice versa, he said. I left education after a brief time and have followed a path in law and real estate development. I’ll never forget Professor Sewell’s advice. I’ve seen many young people who can perform back flips with spreadsheets, but don’t understand the human needs of buildings; and many who can envision beautiful buildings, but don’t understand dollars and cents. Most of us need both.
Janet Graeber (B.S. 68, M.Ed. ’70 Couns Ed)
The Graeber Group
The courses that best prepared me were the classes in special education and reading. While I was never a special education teacher, I found the knowledge gained in these classes helpful for identifying and working with students with learning challenges. The special education classes were taken as an elective during my undergraduate degree. Furthermore, the graduate courses in counseling proved helpful in working with children and adults. In the course of my career, I worked as a teacher, special program director, and administrator.
Thomasine Hill (B.S. ’78 English Ed)
Professor of English at Virginia State University
As the only African American student in my program in the 1970’s (English Education), and with the outward prejudice of some of the people I came in contact with, I cannot say that my experience was all that great. The most rewarding aspect of my experience at the Curry School was when I took a course, I believe it was listed under Special Education, from Dr. Walter. The course was called “Problems in Personal Adjustment”. It changed my life, because it changed my attitude toward all people, especially those who were different from me. Just that course gave me the tools I needed to adjust to diverse situations and deal with the poor attitudes of others in new ways. I am forever grateful for Dr. Walter and his wonderfully positive teaching. (added 6/23/14)
Ed Nolan (Ed.D. ’77 Couns Ed)
Leadership Development Consultant
I worked in higher ed as a Director of Counseling Centers for 5 years then left for industry where I was Managing Director of Learning and Organizational Development for 30 years. As surprising as it may sound, my course work had direct application in industry from group counseling (teamwork), to psychological assessment (selection and interviewing skills), to research and psychometrics (test design and survey analysis), to learning theory (training design), to social and abnormal psychology (succession planning). All in all, I was much better prepared for a role in industry (not my original plan) than I thought I was when I made the career change. Thanks for a great foundation!
Patti Peters (B.S. ’76, M.Ed. ’77 Speech Path & Aud)
Member Board of Trustees at Communication Disorders Foundation of Virginia
The greatest two things about my graduate degree in speech-language pathology from Curry are the lifelong friends, colleagues and mentors I met there and access to the UVA medical school and the merging of that experience with my clinical skills early on. I have continued throughout my career to be a “multi-purpose therapist” in that I work with all ages (infant through geriatric) and disorders. Areas of my field where I feel less confident and/or competent, I refer on to one of my colleagues. Fortunately for me, UVA is only two hours from where I live and so it continues to be a “center” for me personally, and at times, professionally.
Deanna Weaver (B.S. ’75 Educ)
Director of Student Services-Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Retired after a rewarding 32 years in the school system—elementary teacher, middle school math teacher, guidance counselor, and Director of Student Services. Student teaching was a very excellent “eye opener” as to the diversity of different teachers’ philosophy and demands. Experienced two elementary grade levels—one super positive and the second half, extremely negative from the teacher as a “bad” role model. It prepared me for what to “face” working full time in a school of my own.
Andrea White (M.Ed. ’79 Admin & Supv)
President at Felician Services, Inc.
The encouragement of Carolyn Callahan, the witty remarks of Lynn Canady and the sage wisdom of William Sewell.
Debra Arnold (M.Ed. ’87 Speech Path & Aud)
SLP at Chesterfield County Public Schools
While I can’t remember her name and I know she is no longer a professor at UVA, I can say that the woman who taught the stuttering program in the 1980’s in graduate school for speech pathologists. It was a class but also she had preschool clients come into the clinic so we had immediate practice along with the class.
Sharon Boivin (M.Ed. ’85, Ph. D. ’86 Ed Research & Meth)
I was trained in the Bureau of Educational Research back in the mid-80s and I now work for the National Center for Education Statistics. Early in my career, the most valuable skill I learned at the Curry School for work was analyzing data using SPSS and SAS. I still value both the quantitative and the qualitative training that I received and have used it constantly throughout my career. Don Ball was my dissertation advisor and a wonderful mentor.
Conrad Calandra (M.Ed. ’84 Couns Ed)
Coordinator of Academic and Career Advising Technologies at Southern Connecticut State University
I would have to say that my internship at Lynchburg College (83-84) , which was fostered by Dr. Robert Pate our Department Chair at the time, and my graduate assistant position within his office under the supervision of his secretary Cynthia (Steinert) Tallia , prepared me as well as anything else , for my last 30 years in higher education. Dr. Annette Gibbs was also a driving force in helping me zero in on my desire to make a career in higher ed. I was truly blessed to cross each of their paths along the way, as well as the other great faculty members who pulled me through my M Ed. in Counseling and Higher Ed.
Nancy Cox (B.S. ’86 Elem Ed)
Life Choices Coach for Youth
Dr. Gunter and Dr. Moore gave us a full tool kit of teaching methods and the skill to employ them effectively, even as new teacher.
Ann Flynn (Ed.D. ’86 Higher Ed)
Director, Education Technology & Interim Director
Business Development at National School Boards Association
Dr. Gibbs was the chair of my committee in the mid-1980’s and really helped me fine tune both writing and analysis skills. I have worked with the National School Boards Association for over 20 years, and as Director of Education Technology since 2001, and find that my supporting fields in Instructional Design and Management from Darden have been incredibly useful. The coursework in the Center for Higher Education helped me identify “big picture” issues and synthesize lots of different perspectives…also valuable in my career!
Walt Mallory (M.Ed. ’71, Ed.D. ’82 Admin & Supv)
Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech
Currently, I’m a clinical professor of Educational Leadership at Virginia Tech working with master’s and doctoral students. In regards to my current job, my most useful experience at the Curry School was serving as a teaching and research assistant for Don Ball and Bruce Gansneder in the Bureau of Educational Research. I often have said that the assistantship provides more opportunities for real learning than most classes.
Annette Porter EdS (B.S. ’78, M.Ed. ’82 Spec Ed)
2nd Vice President for Recruiting and Fundraising at Alliance for the Physically Disabled
While you don’t get a lot of kudos while you’re working (I ended up teaching, testing, being a teacher observer and mentor teacher and filling in for administrative responsibilities), I am retired now after 32 years with them and ended up receiving an outstanding teacher award as a preschool special education teacher. It all comes to fruition in the end and the memories while teaching also mean a lot.
I am now serving as Second VP on a board of directors for The Alliance of the Physically Disabled, which is responsible for managing a home environment for seven adults, all with just physical disabilities. I have found that I use many of the skills learned from Special Education at U.Va. with the residents, especially in manipulating their motor movements and making suggestions for alternative physical positioning that benefit their well being. These skills were learned in my masters program (Special Education: The Severe and Profoundly Handicapped) taught under the auspices of Marti Snell. (added 6/23/14)
Kelly Bird (M.A.T. ’91 Latin)
Attorney, Director at Gibbons
I had no idea when I left teaching (I earned an M.A.T. in Latin in 1991) for a legal career that I would call on the skills I acquired through my M.A.T. again and again. In explaining complex concepts to my clients, in training employees on workplace conduct, and in working with new associates I am always teaching! While I knew Latin would be a language that would contribute forevermore to my vocabulary and writing, and even allow me to visit many foreign countries with a passable understanding of their languages, I am glad that I have used both parts of my U.Va. education throughout my career.
Tracye L. “Willow” Boudell (M.T. ’91)
Consultant & Content Development
The focus on hands-on experience, from role playing techniques and scenarios to the significant classroom experience required before student-teaching even began best prepared me for my career in teaching. Although I am no longer in the classroom, I still benefit from my teacher training. I have more patience with clients who have technical problems and am better able to assist them as they learn what is possible by using the web for information, social media and profit. I am also a better advocate. In short, I learned wonderful, transferable skills!
Megan Brown, PT, DPT (B.S. ’96 Sports Med)
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Co-Founder Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga
Practicing skills in a non-competitive environment .
Alexa Stuart Frisbie (M.T. ’91 Science Ed)
Founder, Workshop Education
Spending a lot of time in the classroom to see different approaches and Dick Rezba’s science class. Read her essay in the Curry Magazine.
Jennifer Hindman, Ph.D. (M.T. ’95 Elem Ed)
SURN Coordinator at College of William and Mary
Preston Prather’s methods class in which several students collaborated on writing a grant proposal. Once we got the grant then we learned the other side. I shared tips and experience with other educators just two days ago.
Scott Hunsaker (Ph.D. ’91 Educ Psych)
Associate Professor at Utah State University
For me the excellent mentoring I received from Dr. Carolyn Callahan was the key to the success I now experience. She demonstrated through example how to achieve excellence in teaching, research, and service to the university and the profession. She gave me multiple opportunities to experience success in all these areas at international, national, state, and local levels.
Beth Klein (Ed.D. ’96 Science Ed)
Professor at SUNY Cortland
My doctoral advisor was fantastic. Preston Prather provided me with so many critical experiences during my time at UVa. He connected me with many nationally renowned science educators, provided travel funds so I could present at national conferences, made sure I had experiences supervising student teachers and teaching courses, and supported me as I completed my dissertation long distance while I worked at my first higher education faculty position. These are just a few of the many things he did, and as a result I was very well prepared to take on the role of a science teacher educator.
Jennifer Jones (M.Ed. ’99 Couns Ed)
Co-Founder and Producer at Big Blue Door
The lab with Spencer Niles was the most helpful for me. Developing and practicing counseling skills while under supervision to receive feedback and guidance was invaluable.
Darrell Medley (M.Ed. ’99 Couns Ed)
I would have to say that for me it was the collaborative nature of the Counselor Education program that prepared me. My professors shared valuable knowledge that allowed me to make connections to the counseling theory and practice that I was learning. My professors were very open and helpful in preparing us for the unexpected. Claudia Sowa and Kenneth Simington were a couple of administrators who really stood out to me and made an impact on my experience at Curry. I loved it.
Jessica Ayres (M.Ed. ’06 Couns Ed)
Department of Accountability & Student Achievement at Greene County Public Schools
Studying to be a School Counselor, my most valuable experience was my internship. There is nothing better than hands on, real world experience to prepare you for working in education!
Hayley Bannister (M.T. ’04 English Ed)
English Content Manager at K12
My student teaching and other classroom experiences were the best preparation for teaching, but for my current job, and general planning, I think learning how to lesson plan and use “backward mapping” were the most helpful. Now I naturally start by thinking about the end goal, and that has also helped me in my current position foresee possible issues with new policies and procedures and (hopefully) plan to avoid those.
Shawn Carey (M.Ed. ’03 Spec Ed)
Children’s House Guide/Director of After School at Mountaintop Montessori School
I was already working when I entered the Curry School for my masters. The openness and receipt of my “real world” experiences in classes hoping for ideal situations (and full of students coming straight from undergrad) was refreshing and reassuring. I had great classroom and community experiences while attending the Curry School.
Kate Culbert (M.T. ’09 Science Ed)
DP Math and Science Teacher at American International School of Zagreb
Without a doubt, it was Randy Bell’s science for educators course. First of all, it was the most fun I’ve ever had in a university course (with the exception of ice skating), but there was a big emphasis on lab practicals. I have used so many of the ideas from that course in my own classes, and I am especially grateful for the focus on the Nature of Science, as the IBDP has added NOS into the group 4 curriculum for first exams 2016.
Kim Doan (Ph. D. ’08 Special Ed)
Assoc Professor at West Chester University
I learned from Don Ball and Jane Hansen to care about the person underneath. Once the degrees, presentations, and publications are stripped away, what you have left is the person. While both worked on our academic and professional skills with us, they also cared about the individual. I now follow the same practice with my students.
Jeff Doyle (M.Ed. ’94 Couns Ed; Ph.D. ’01 Higher Ed)
Dean for Student Learning & Engagement
Being mentored and taught by Dr. Annette Gibbs and taking classes with Dean David Breneman. Dr. Gibbs taught me the importance of staying current in the literature and being an encourager for students. Dr. Breneman taught me a balanced and thoughtful approach to complex issues faced in higher education. I would definitely not be the administrator and teacher I am today without their education and investment. In short, my greatest lessons came from people who cared about my development. It was not the content taught, but their approach to learning and connecting to their students.
Nancy Goodman (M.Ed. ’07 C&I)
Senior Project Director at Insight Education Group
My coursework focused on the theory that supports best-practice teaching and broader movements in education. Being armed with an understanding of the “why” (instead of just a bag of tricks… the “how”), allowed me to be a responsive teacher in the classroom and has set me up for work with dynamic school districts across the country.
Jonathan Hine (Ph.D. ’00 Educ Eval)
ATA-certified translator at Scriptor Services LLC
Book-length fiction and non-fiction; Italian-Eng interpreting
Learning about qualitative analysis and interpretive inquiry made the dissertation research possible that turned me into a credible translation scholar. I became the founding Secretary of the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association (ATISA). That helped “build my brand” as a freelance writer and translator much more than the usual business-school recommendations. A special tip of the hat to Bob Covert, who recruited me to the PhD program and served as my adviser.
Sachdeva Kanwaljit (Ed.S. ’08 Admin & Supv)
Assessment coach at Fairfax County Public Schools
Dr. Esposito’s question- “So, what the point”? I now always think about this whenever I am involved in a discussion. This question always help me to research better and know my argument before presenting in front of people.
Steve Keyser (M.Ed. ’03 C&I)
Outreach Educator at New College Institute
My Curry School experiences reinforced the importance of working with a team of people to reach a common goal. It also enhanced my ability to write and present in a formal and very effective manner. It taught me the value of accepting a challenge, and gave me the motivation, ability and skills to lead and encourage others to do the same! Thanks, U.Va. and the Curry School of Education! (added 6/23/14)
Stephanie Maddox (B.S. ’86, M.Ed. ’98 Soc Fdns)
Teacher at PWCS
For me, it was the faculty as a whole who welcomed our questions, pushed us to be our best, and shared their knowledge, especially Dr. Moore and Dean Cooper.
Denise Ondrof (M.Ed. ’00 Ed Psych)
Head of School at Merryhill School, Nobel Learning Communities
Everything I learned under Dr. Carol Tomlinson put me and has kept me ahead of the game when it comes to curriculum & instruction. Thank you!
Heather Quinn (M.T. ’08 Elem Ed)
Teacher at Franklin County Public Schools
Jane Hansen’s class on teaching writing and Jamie Marsh’s encouragement to seek out a short-term middle school practicum placement to explore whether middle school might be a better fit for me than elementary (and finish my thesis). They went above and beyond to find a teacher who gave me free reign in her eighth grade classroom. I taught a unit on writing using descriptive language and finally felt like I’d found my niche. When I interviewed in my district, my interview was officially for a fifth-grade language arts position, but there was a middle school English opening in the county so the middle school principal was on my interview panel as well. At the end of my interview I was offered the middle school position and I’ve never looked back. I love being able to use the writer’s workshop model Jane and Jamie taught me in my classroom.
Michael Chapman (M.T. ’10 Science Ed)
If I had to choose two aspects (sorry, couldn’t choose one!), I think my teaching science concepts class with Randy Bell and the student teaching experience were extremely beneficial. Between the great flow of the class, active demonstrations, and presenting lessons and activities between peers, I started my job with a lot of background information. Furthermore, Randy’s constant advice and our TAs’ reflections were extremely helpful in bettering my teaching practices. For student teaching, I really enjoyed UVA’s intensive program with regards to taking over lessons, creating lesson plans, video recording teaching, and having a TA come observe on a consistent basis. I felt that I always had the needed feedback to get better, and even more importantly, a strong grasp on classroom management and flow. I couldn’t have asked for a better program!
Ginny Fraser (Ph.D. ’10 Math Ed)
The aspect that helped me the most was learning how to use technology to enhance mathematics instruction. Professionally, Joe Garofalo and Robert Berry helped me with my writing abilities and stretching my thinking in different areas I had previously considered. I cannot thank them enough!