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Graduate Education Newsletter

Spring 2020

Greetings from the Chair

Tom Shields - imageAs you are aware, our Graduate Education e-newsletter comes out twice a year — in the fall and the spring. The earlier version of this Graduate Education e-newsletter that was to come out in March looked very different. That version would have highlighted events such as our Graduate Education Speaker Series with author Doug Lemov, our children’s author series with Janet Wong, the culmination of the Next Generation Leadership Academy and many others. It also would have celebrated the work of our incredible graduates and highlight our End-of-the-Year-Party, SPCS Night, and Commencement.

As I write this and reflect on the many events that would have occurred this spring, it is amazing to realize how quickly our lives have been changed and upended due to the coronavirus situation. I’m sure you are doing your best in juggling coursework, careers, caregiving, home-based lessons for children, and concern for loved ones, particularly those who are on the front-lines, who are elderly, who live at the margins of our society or have underlying health conditions. Our collective lives are now governed by Zoom, news updates and the latest measures for social distancing and mask-wearing. In this stressful and anxious time, please know the community of Graduate Education is thinking of you and your family.

I wanted to briefly summarize some of the information that our adjunct faculty and students have received over the past few weeks from the University, SPCS, and programs in Graduate Education.

With the assistance of staff from SPCS and the University’s Faculty Hub, all of our faculty were able to transition spring courses to online and remote learning.

Students who are enrolled in teaching and leadership internship courses have been provided extra assistance to make sure there are sufficient opportunities for them to complete this integral part of their degrees.

Students enrolled in courses this spring semester have the opportunity to choose a Credit/No Credit grading option. If you are a student and want to pursue this possibility, please reach out to me or your program chair. The deadline for making this decision is 5 pm on April 24.

Students who are in the comprehensive exam stage of their programs have received instruction and support to make sure that they are able to complete these culminating degree assignments. We also adapted timelines for students who are piloting portfolios.

The admissions deadline for summer has been extended to May 1 to allow applicants for summer more time to complete their application files, and application fees have been waived.

Our admissions procedures were modified to offer summer and fall applicants more flexibility and offer a complete remote admissions process.

And, finally, we are continuing to monitor and keep abreast of the notifications emanating from the Virginia Department of Education about the need for possible waivers for internship hours and other changes.

As you can see from the above, our chairs, faculty, and staff have been incredibly busy. Looking to the end of the semester, we are still working through many of the challenges that this situation has presented. Here are some items that we are working on.

As we head into the final stretch of the semester, our faculty and staff are working to ensure that students in our Graduate Education programs finish strong and that we accommodate the needs of our students during these difficult times.

For our graduates who were going to walk across the stage in our May commencement exercise, we are sorry that we won’t be together to celebrate this amazing day with you and your families. Please know that SPCS and the University will be providing more updates in the near future about how we will celebrate you and your families.

Many of our Graduate Education students continue to work on classes and their degrees over the summer. Our programs have worked with full-time and adjunct faculty to ensure that all summer courses will be taught online. For students taking summer courses, you should be receiving messages from various sources, including your instructors, about how these courses will be conducted online.

During this time of transition to online and remote learning, Graduate Education faculty and staff continue to seek opportunities to offer appropriate and timely professional development to K-12 educators. For example, this summer we are offering, EDUC 598U Maximizing Student Learning Through Online Instruction. This course will prepare K-12 teachers to design a variety of online learning environments, from 100% distance learning classrooms to supporting in-person instruction with blended tools, resources and strategies. Please be sure to check out this course and other summer professional development offerings for K-12 teachers.

For those who are interested in pursuing a degree or know of someone who would like to advance their career in K-12 education, please visit our admissions page. SPCS has extended our summer application deadline for prospective students to May 1. We have also waived our fees for summer and fall applications.

At this moment, it is heartening to realize how fortunate we are to be part of the community of Spiders. An institution of higher education is more than just a place of learning — it is a caring, loving, and thoughtful community that looks out for all. Yes, this is a spring semester like no other, but it is now when we realize the true meaning of being part of our Spider community.

Be safe and be well!

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

In This Issue

Pictured (above): Panelists in the School Safety Reform Community Conversation held last November.

Scroll to read each each section.

  • Feature Stories
  • Alumni Updates 
  • Graduate Education Speaker Series
  • Upcoming Events & Deadlines
  • News & Info | Faculty & Staff Updates
  • Student Reminders
  • Submit Your News | Education Events 
  • Media References
  • Photo Albums
  • Contact Us | Connect

Previous Issues

Graduate Education Alumni Updates

  • Kelly Maiden, C'18, named Beginning Teacher of the Year

    Kelly Maiden, C’18, was named Beginning Teacher of the Year at Beaverdam Elementary School in Hanover County Public Schools. Maiden earned elementary teacher licensure in 2018 while completing a BA in liberal arts and a concentration in elementary education.

  • LeKiesha White, GC'19, describes teaching experience in published book

    LeKiesha White, GC’19, shared her experience using project-based learning to teach biology to English learners (EL) in a book published by ASCD. The book, Team Up, Speak Up, Fire Up! brings together research, best practices, and voices from educators to help teachers support ELs and their families. White earned an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies in 2019 and teaches in Chesterfield County.

  • Natasha Thomas, GC'19, receives 2019 R.E.B. Award

    Natasha Thomas, GC’19, was among recipients of a 2019 R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. The awards, given by the Community Foundation and the R.E.B. Foundation, recognize excellence in local public educators. Thomas teaches at Southampton Elementary School in Richmond Public Schools and earned a graduate certificate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies through SPCS.

  • Kimberly Bridges, GC'13, quoted in analysis of Virginia politics

    Dr. Kimberly M. Bridges, GC’13, is quoted in The 74 analysis of Virginia education policy gains in the event of democratic wins in the November 5 election. The article was published two days prior to the election. Bridges earned a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies and is now a professor in VCU’s School of Education.

  • Kirsten Logan, GC'18, co-authors article with professor in peer-reviewed journal

    Kirsten Logan, GC’18, has co-authored an article with SPCS adjunct associate professor Erik Laursen titled Does Mindfulness Strengthen Self-efficacy in First Grade Students? in the Journal of Teacher Action Research. This article represents the first peer-reviewed publication published by a student or graduate of the M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction program.

Upcoming Deadline

Scholarship Deadline for Fall 2020

The deadline to apply for scholarships for the Fall 2020 semester is June 1. Don’t miss this opportunity to apply for funds toward completing your degree — the School awards over $140,000 in scholarships each year, and that amount continues to grow!


News & Information

View more related articles

Faculty & Staff Updates

  • Roberts named chair of statewide school attorneys council

    Wendell C. Roberts, adjunct associate professor of education, has been elected chair of the Virginia Council of School Attorneys (VCOSA). The council is an affiliate of the National Council of School Attorneys and the only statewide organization for attorneys who represent public K-12 school boards.

  • Carpenter to serve on Staff Engagement Committee

    Liza Carpenter, administrative coordinator in the Education department, has been invited to serve for a second term (academic year 2020-2021) on the School of Arts & Sciences Staff Engagement Committee.

  • Spires earns promotion to associate professor

    Dr. Bob Spires, professor in the SPCS graduate education program, has been approved by the University Board of Trustees for promotion from assistant professor to the rank of associate professor.

  • Spires co-authors journal article

    Dr. Bob Spires, Assistant Professor of Education, co-authored Cambodian Youth Perspectives on Social and Educational Barriers, a case study published in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education. Spires’ co-authors are Jeremy Tost of Colorado Mesa University and Sokleng In of Love Without Boundaries in Poipet, Cambodia.

  • Wilson addresses leadership summit

    Dr. Jamelle Wilson, dean of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies, recently addressed attendees of the Virginia Foundation of Independent College’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Development Summit in Richmond. She spoke on “Leading Authentically,” positing that we lead most effectively from a place of knowing who we are and where we are at a particular time.

  • Spires to participate in anti-slavery research

    Dr. Bob Spires, assistant professor of education, will participate this summer with Dr. Monti Datta, associate professor of political science, in grant-funded research in Assam, India, to assess the effectiveness of NGOs in liberating enslaved people.

  • Education faculty present at leadership conference

    Four members of the Graduate Education faculty — Dr. Tom Shields, Dr. Kate Cassada, Dr. Dionne Ward and Dr. Dave Myers — co-presented Undergraduate Leadership Studies Curriculum and K-12 School Leader Development at the global meeting of the International Leadership Association in Ottawa, Canada. Dr. Sandra Peart, Dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, chaired the panel.

  • Spires collaborates on article

    Dr. Bob Spires, assistant professor of education, published an article co-written with graduate students & colleagues from Valdosta State University. The article, Effects of the Post-It Note Strategy on Reading Achievement among Eighth-Grade Students with Learning Disabilities, appears in Becoming: Journal of the Georgia Middle School Association.

  • Laursen co-authors article with SPCS graduate

    Dr. Erik Laursen, adjunct associate professor of education, has co-authored with alum Kirsten Logan, GC’18, the article Does Mindfulness Strengthen Self-efficacy in First Grade Students? in the Journal of Teacher Action Research.

  • Shields co-authors report highlighting value of school diversity

    Dr. Tom Shields, SPCS associate dean and associate professor of education & leadership studies, has co-authored a report highlighting the value of school diversity. Written with scholars from VCU and the Virginia Housing Alliance, the report focuses on Richmond’s school rezoning efforts.

Student Reminders

Comprehensive Exams

Spring 2020 Comprehensive Exams will still take place in April. Eligible students have been contacted by their specific programs, and plans for distance proctoring are being communicated.

Graduation Application

Even though May Commencement Exercises have been called off for 2020, if you plan on graduating in May or August 2020, you should still submit your degree application.

If you missed this deadline and require assistance, please contact your respective Graduate Education program advisor. Review Commencement information for updates on plans. Diplomas will be distributed, but the method and timing are being worked out.


School Safety Reform in Virginia - Fall 2019
School Safety Panel Discussion
School Safety Panel Discussion
School Safety Panel Discussion

Media References

Partners in the Arts Workshop at the VMFA
Partners in the Arts at the VMFA
Partners in the Arts at the VMFA
Partners in the Arts at the VMFA

Contact Us

Graduate Education Program
School of Professional & Continuing Studies
North Court
421 Westhampton Way
University of Richmond, Va. 23173

(804) 289-8133 • fax (804) 289-8138

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