Graduate Education Newsletter

Spring 2023

Welcome to the newsletter of the Graduate Education program at the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies (SPCS). We publish twice annually, once each in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Pictured are student teaching interns participating in a mindfulness session facilitated by Roger Mancastroppa, associate director of the UR Academic Skills Center.

Greetings from the Chair

Tom Shields headshot Happy Spring! Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful spring weather.

It is certainly an exciting time to be a Spider. It is almost the end of the spring semester which means that we are busy with final assignments, exams, capstones, and internships. We also realize that Commencement, which is on May 6th, is on the horizon and quickly approaching. Beyond the normal end of the year events, there is much going on in Graduate Education Programs, the School of Professional and Continuing Studies (SPCS), and the University. Below are some highlights and for more detailed information please read this edition of the spring e-newsletter.

Beginning in Summer 2023, the Partners in the Arts (PIA) Consortium will offer its programming as the Institute for Integrated Learning (IIL), integrating community and culture into all PK-16 learning spaces through the arts and technology. For more information, check out the website for PIA, which will soon be known as IIL!

To serve the programmatic needs of our local school divisions, we are pleased to announce tuition discounts! We have launched a significant discount for our Spider alumni known as the Spider Spirit Alumni Discount. We also offer tuition discounts for educators in K-12 Consortium School Districts. If you are unsure about whether your school or school district is part of the Consortium, please reach out to Kris Waikart, Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator for Graduate Education Programs, at

We continue to work with local school divisions in addressing their professional development and provisional licensure needs. We are fortunate to continue to implement the grant from the R.E.B. Foundation to support the Provisional License Support Program (PLuS). Also, check out the courses and advising that we offer for provisionally licensed teachers.

Over the past year, SPCS has been celebrating its 60th Anniversary! It has been a year full of celebrations, with more events to come in the spring and summer. Please check out the updates and details on our 60th Anniversary page.

Our new president, Kevin Hallock, is focusing on areas of opportunity for the University of Richmond. President Hallock launched a planning process, called Guiding Lights, to determine strategic areas of opportunity. Learn more about President Hallock’s Guiding Lights in the draft strategic plan.

As you can see from this list above and from the contents of the e-newsletter, there is a lot going on. Like I said at the beginning, it is a great time to be a Spider!

Please enjoy this edition of the Graduate Education spring e-newsletter and hope you have an amazing spring!

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

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Updates from Our Centers

Educators at a table working together during a hands-on workshop
April 12, 2023
Partners in the Arts update

Brief update on what the Partners in the Arts consortium is doing and offering for the Richmond region’s educators, artists, teachers, schools and school divisions.

Announcements & Reminders

Summer 2023 Registration

Spring registration opened on March 14 and the class schedule is available online. Review the summer academic calendar for details.

Advisors are initiating advising appointments. Licensure students should be prepared to discuss progress being made towards passing the required licensure exams and (as needed) course gap completion.

Spring 2023 Comprehensive Requirements

The MEd in Curriculum & Instruction and MEd and Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies are holding capstones. Eligible students will be contacted with further details by their respective program.

Commencement-Related Events

  • Graduating students are invited to register to drop in for Graduation Celebration & Regalia Pickup on Tuesday, April 25, 3-7 p.m., in the Jepson Alumni Center.
  • All Graduate Education students are invited to attend the Graduate Education End-of-Year Party on Tuesday, May 2, 5:30-7 p.m. in the North Court Gillette Courtyard, just outside of the Ed Leadership office and Perkinson Recital Hall.
  • Graduating students are invited to attend SPCS Night, the school’s annual awards ceremony celebrating the graduating class of 2023, on May 3 at 6 p.m. in Alice Jepson Theatre, Modlin Center for the Arts. RSVP by April 19 using the link in the invitation email sent to all graduating students.
  • Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 9. Graduating students with regalia should arrive no later than 7:30 a.m. to the Weinstein Center for Recreation; regalia can be collected starting at 7 a.m. in the same location.

Scholarship Deadline

The deadline to apply for Fall 2023 SPCS scholarships is June 1.

Education Briefs

George O'Connor speaking at a podium

Children’s Author George O’Connor Visits Campus

The Education Studio was proud to host New York Times best-selling author and illustrator George O’Connor for an author talk. O’Connor is best known for his graphic novel series The Olympians, where he retells classic Greek myths in his fast-paced comic book style. His talk focused on his development as an artist and detailed his creative process from sketch to published work. Over 125 students, staff, faculty, and members of the community enjoyed his engaging lecture.

Participants sitting on blankets participate in mindfulness session

Mindfulness Session for Student Teaching Interns

Social-emotional health and wellness is a focus for our teacher and leadership interns. With a focus on stress-management and relaxation, Dana Jackson, ELPS director of clinical practice, and Deborah Napoli, director of teacher education, partnered with Roger Manacastroppa, associate director of the Academic Skills Center, to present a mindfulness session at the Well-Being Center. Interns left armed with strategies for deep breathing, calmness, and resilience to apply in the field.

Participants posing for a group photo with philanthropist Marcus Weinstein

Encompass Program Students Visit Virginia Holocaust Museum

Bob Spires, associate professor of education, and Monti Datta, associate professor of political science, accompanied undergraduate students to the Virginia Holocaust Museum in support of a class on nonprofits and social justice that Spires and Datta are co-teaching. The course is part of the EnCompass program and will culminate in a travel experience this summer to Cambodia to examine issues and visit a number of nonprofits as well. While at the museum, surprise guest Marcus Weinstein joined the students, speaking of the need for good teachers and asking the students to consider education as a field.

Adjunct Faculty Updates

Congratulations to Dr. Joe Douglas, Instructional Specialist in Colonial Heights Public Schools, for promotion to Adjunct Associate Professor.

Welcome to Dr. Cort Schneider, Director of Disability Services for the University of Richmond, as one of our newest Adjunct Assistant Professors.

These and other faculty recognitions were announced during the Spring 2023 SPCS faculty meeting held January 5.

New & Ongoing Initiatives

Spider Spirit Alumni Discount

University of Richmond alumni who have earned an academic certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, post-bachelor’s certificate, graduate certificate, master’s degree or juris doctorate are eligible for the Spider Spirit alumni discount. The Spider Spirit alumni discount offers UR alumni a 25% savings on tuition over the lifetime of a degree program when a member of the alumni enrolls in a degree or certificate program through the School of Professional & Continuing Studies. This 25% tuition discount is also applicable to individual courses taken for credit as a non-degree seeking student in SPCS.

Partnership with VAIS

We hosted the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) annual Safe & Healthy Schools Conference on February 15, 2023. Approximately 150 school counselors, nurses, athletics directors, school safety & security professionals, teachers, and school leaders from across Virginia gathered to explore topics and strategies to support safe and healthy schools. We shared UR-related expertise in three sessions:

SPCS is proud to partner with VAIS.

ELPS Consortium Initiative

The Educational Leadership & Policy Studies program celebrates the pilot ELPS Consortium initiative. Qualified educators employed in Chesterfield, Goochland and Henrico County Public Schools are eligible for a 20% tuition discount if they are interested in pursuing their educational leadership degree at the University of Richmond. If interested, please reach out Kris Waikart, Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator, at

Alumni Accolades

Congratulations to Desiree Dabney, GC’22, on being named head of the musical theater program at Virginia Commonwealth...

Posted by University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies on Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Faculty Updates

Laura M. Kuti
Kuti Published with Napoli & Spires

Laura Kuti, assistant professor and chair of teacher education, co-authored a chapter in the edited collection International Perspectives on School-University Partnerships with Deborah Napoli, director of clinical practice for University education programs, and Bob Spires, associate professor of education. The chapter addressed the teacher shortage in Virginia.

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Bob Spires
Spires Published with Napoli & Kuti

Bob Spires, associate professor of education, co-authored a chapter in the edited collection International Perspectives on School-University Partnerships with Deborah Napoli, director of clinical practice for University education programs, andLaura Kuti, assistant professor and chair of teacher education. The chapter addressed the teacher shortage in Virginia.

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Deborah Napoli
Napoli Published with Kuti & Spires

Deborah Napoli, director of clinical practice for University education programs, co-authored a chapter in the edited collection International Perspectives on School-University Partnerships with Laura Kuti, assistant professor and chair of teacher education, and Bob Spires, associate professor of education. The chapter addressed the teacher shortage in Virginia.

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Tom J. Shields
Shields Presents at Oxford Symposium

Tom Shields, SPCS associate dean, education & leadership studies professor and chair of graduate education, presented “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Leadership of Congressman Bobby Scott” at the Oxford Education Research Symposium held July 17-19 at St. Hilda’s College of Oxford University.

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