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Graduate Education Newsletter

December 2015

Greetings from the Chair

Tom Shields - imageWelcome to the first edition of the Graduate Education program online newsletter. As the Graduate Education program has grown over the years, we have been committed to communicating with all of the our prospective students, current students, adjunct and full-time faculty and staff, and external partners.

The online newsletter, which will be published three times a year, will continue that dialogue and commitment to providing timely and important information.

The newsletter will examine what is happening in each of the programs, the successes of current and former students, the accomplishments of full-time and adjunct faculty, and share brief stories about the state of education today.

We encourage you to submit thoughts, ideas, and news items to Dr. Julia Burke ( for inclusion in future newsletters. Again, thanks for being part of UR’s Graduate Education program and happy reading!

Tom J. Shields, Ph.D.
Graduate Education Chair

Registration for Spring Classes

Registration for Spring 2016 classes opened on November 10 and continues until January 10, 2016. Review the schedule of classes for selections, then register in BannerWeb. Spring classes begin either the week of January 11 or January 18, 2016.

Successful Accreditation by CAEP

The Teacher Licensure Preparation and Educational Leadership and Policy Studies programs earned full accreditation for seven years from the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This is a significant recognition of our students, programs, and good work in area schools!

Scholarly Text Released

Dr. Tammy Milby, director of reading, co-edited with VCU’s Dr. Joan A. Roads a volume titled Advancing Teacher Education and Curriculum Development through Study Abroad Programs (IGI, 2015). The collection underscores the value of travel abroad programs for pre-service educators, addressing benefits and opportunities afforded when teachers gain cultural awareness and a global perspective.

New Teacher of the Year

Teacher Licensure Preparation program graduate Chris Kresge, GC’15, was named the Henrico County Public Schools First-Year Teacher of the Year for 2015. Kresge tells about his experience teaching English in Japan in the Autumn 2015 issue of University of Richmond Magazine (see below).

Welcome to Dr. Dionne Ward

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Dionne Ward has joined the Graduate Education faculty as Assistant Professor of Education and Director of Internships for Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS). Dr. Ward will be in charge of all internship functions for ELPS, including teaching EDUC 610U Reflective Leadership Seminar I and EDUC 611U Reflective Leadership Seminar II.

Mid-Year ESL Placements

M.Ed. (Curriculum & Instruction) students Beverly Newell and Lisa Eades, both seeking ESL endorsements, were offered mid-year ESL teaching positions: Newell at Falling Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County and Eades at Springfield Elementary School in Henrico County.

Welcome to Dr. Laura Kuti

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Laura Kuti as Assistant Chair of Curriculum & Instruction. Dr. Kuti joins us from Chesterfield County Public Schools, brings with her significant expertise in the field of English language learners, and oversees the M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction, professional development courses, and endorsement coursework. 

Applying to Graduate in May 2016

If you plan to graduate in May 2016 and have not already completed the graduation application, please contact Kristen Ball in the Registrar’s office as soon as possible.

Classroom Reflection: UR Prepared Me...

By Colleen Cassada, GC’14, Teacher Licensure Program graduate

Like most experiences in life, nothing can prepare a first-year teacher for the unexpected, thrilling, exhausting, rollercoaster that is the first year of teaching. My first year as an eighth grade English teacher included moments when I realized, mid-teaching, that my lesson was an epic fail as I looked out into the crowd of 33 dubious students relying on me to make grammar fun; moments when I truly understood the application of differentiation as I found myself faced by a group of students who breezed through their assignment because it was just too easy for them, and moments of sheer pride when I watched a student finally grasp the concept of the five-paragraph essay. 

I look back and think to myself, “How did I make it through?” The answer to that question is not founded on some mystical logic: I “made it” because I was trained and taught to be prepared for and tackle any obstacle, any challenge, any decision out of the hundreds of decisions a teacher is faced with in a day. The professors and staff in the University of Richmond Teacher Licensure Program provided me with not only pedagogical knowledge of how to structure and plot out effective lessons in accordance with state standards, but also provided continual first-hand observations and practicums, ultimately getting me ready for my semester-long student teaching. These experiences allowed me to confidently navigate my way through the ups and downs of my first teaching year. During one of my first observations, my principal asked me to remind him where I had gone for my licensure program. I recall feeling so proud to name “University of Richmond” as my teacher licensure program because I was recognized as being organized and dedicated to planning and executing my lessons using fun, creative strategies.

I fully credit my experience at the University of Richmond for having a successful first year in the classroom. It’s funny — we UR grads can spot each other in a crowd of fellow teachers because we understand how to effectively collaborate, and we exude the passion that is needed to go above and beyond to enhance student learning. Through my classes at the University of Richmond, I made life-long friends who also know what it is to experience “the first year.” I also gained a support system of knowledgeable professors ready to give advice at an email’s notice. While every moment of the first year was filled with every existing emotion a person can feel, I knew that I had the foundations from the UR program to fall back on, and I was able to take risks and truly enjoy being a teacher.

Educate Your Legislators

By Scott Bray, Ph.D., Assistant Chair, Teacher Licensure Preparation program

Now that the fall election season is behind us I urge you to turn your attention to the upcoming legislative session of the General Assembly. This year marks the first time since taking office that Governor McCauliffe has the opportunity to present a budget of his making to the General Assembly. The governor in a speech to the Municipal League of Virginia on October 6, 2015, identified K-12 education as his number one priority for the upcoming legislative session. The areas specifically mentioned by the governor include reducing class size, early education, and increased funding for challenged schools.

A recent study by JLARC on K-12 education spending was presented to the General Assembly in September. Among the study’s key findings was that Virginia relies more on localities to fund K-12 education compared to other states. In fact, Virginia localities pay the highest share of K-12 spending in the Southeast Region. As a result of the imbalance between state and local dollars, nearly 90% of Virginia’s school systems spend less today per pupil than they did in 2007.  School divisions reduced their per pupil spending by increasing class sizes, limiting teacher salary growth, requiring teachers to pay a larger percentage of health insurance and retirement benefit costs. Consider that reductions have come at a time when the challenges facing Virginia’s teachers continue to increase.

Please join Richmond faculty members and others from around the Commonwealth for Day on the Square on February 17, 2016. 

And for more information about the General Assembly visit

Teacher Licensure Program Transcript Gaps

Teacher Licensure Program (TLP) students who need to complete gaps in their transcripts should contact their academic advisor to discuss transcript gap resources.

Graduate Education Faculty Highlights

  • Moderated Law Review forum

    Dr. Dionne Ward, assistant professor of education and director of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies internships, served as moderator for the UR Law Review’s Allen Chair Symposium on School Inequality.

  • Capitol roundtable participant

    Professor Tom Shields, chair of graduate education, participated in a roundtable discussion on the future of teacher and school leader trainining at the Capitol in Washington, DC.

  • Co-presenter at VERA Conference

    Dr. Kate Cassada, asst. chair of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, presented a paper with Dr. Laura Kassner, adjunct asst. professor of Education, at the Virginia Education Research Association (VERA) annual conference in September 2015.

  • Quoted on superintendent resignation

    Dr. Tom Shields, SPCS professor and chair of graduate education, was quoted in a NBC12 story on the resignation of Petersburg Public Schools superintendent Joseph Melvin.

Curriculum & Instruction Comprehensive Exams

Curriculum & Instruction comprehensive exams will take place on Saturday, December 5, 2015. To be sure you are scheduled for exams and prepared to graduate in May 2016, please contact Dr. Julia Burke at

First Aid, CPR & AED Training

The University’s Center for Recreation and Wellness will provide First Aid, CPR and AED training required of all teaching applicants on Sunday, December 6, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. This is the second and last session offered for Student Teaching candidates for Spring 2016. Register online on the Google Sheet; contact Renee Peterson with questions.

The UR Student Experience

The UR Student Experience
Students in a Teacher Licensure Preparation (TLP) class, EDUC 542U Teaching in Middle & Secondary Schools. Taught by Dr. Scott Bray, Assistant ...
Students in a Teacher Licensure Preparation (TLP) class, EDUC 542U Teaching in Middle & Secondary Schools. Taught by Dr. Scott Bray, Assistant ...
Students in a Teacher Licensure Preparation (TLP) class, EDUC 542U Teaching in Middle & Secondary Schools. Taught by Dr. Scott Bray, Assistant ...

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