Graduate Education Newsletter

Fall 2022

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 Teacher LEAD participants, aspiring leaders from Chesterfield County Public Schools.

Greetings from the Chair

Tom Shields headshot Happy Autumn! As I write this, the leaves on the trees are alive with color. Our campus is vibrant with students walking under the brightly colored canopy and crisp leaves fill our walkways. It is hard to believe that the pandemic is now an endemic and the routines of the academic year have returned with ease and familiarity.

Unfortunately, what is playing out in our schools is not good for the future of our democracy or the hope to achieve a high standard of living as an industrialized country. Not a day goes by without a blaring headline about the state of our public schools. Here is a sampling: “‘A way of protest’: Unsatisfied Richmond-area teachers leaving in droves”; “Threats, Classroom Cameras & Politics: Why American Teachers Are Dropping Out”; and “The Teacher Shortage is Testing America’s Schools.”

More and more teachers are deciding that the profession is not satisfying. Feeling they are not valued or treated well, many teachers are opting to depart — some are leaving in the middle of the school year. Unfortunately, what is playing out in our schools is not good for the future of our democracy or the hope to achieve a high standard of living as industrialized country. Teachers are vital to creating future citizens and helping students become their best and productive selves. Teachers also provide young people a chance to form a relationship that is safe, secure, and trusting. Simply put, without sufficient numbers of quality teachers, our American ethos and republic will begin to fade and falter.

The faculty and staff in Graduate Education are fully aware of this trend and are deeply concerned about these troubling signs in K-12 education and in our society. We know former students who have exited the profession. We look out across our classrooms and see the worry on the faces of our current students. We are not sitting idly by, but are doing things to help with this crisis.

We are actively encouraging dialogue and creating programs to address this unsettling problem of why there is a lack of teachers and why teachers might be mistreated. Dr. Kate Cassada, authored an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch titled “Teacher Vacancy Crisis Demands More Than Piecemeal Fixes.” In that piece, Dr. Cassada argues that now is the time to act before it is too late: “the time for piecemeal correction is long past, requiring dramatic changes and commitments now.” With faculty from Virginia Commonwealth University, I convened a forum of advocates, lawyers, policy makers, and practitioners to discuss the educational civil rights of teachers who feel as if they are silenced and can’t speak openly or teach on the issues of diversity, inclusivity, and equity.

We are assisting those teachers in our local school divisions who have a provisional license move in the direction of completing coursework and receive quality advising that will lead to licensure. Through a generous grant from the REB Foundation, we have created a response to the documented need to support pre-service and in-service teachers who take nontraditional and provisional pathways toward teacher licensure. Our Provisional Licensure Support (PLuS) program offers the School-based Teacher Education Partnership (STEP) for current Master of Teaching students and the Teacher Licensure Completion (TLC) program for provisionally licensed teachers.

We acknowledge there is much more to be done — our children’s lives and our country’s future depends on finding and training the next generation of teachers.

Throughout this newsletter you will also note how active and engaged our faculty and staff are with local schools and our community. The opening up of classrooms, schools, and society has allowed us to bring groups of teachers and school leaders to campus and hold face-to-face meetings and large-scale events. We are pleased that President Kevin Hallock has made community engagement one of the priorities of his Guiding Lights. As you will see from the many pictures in this newsletter, we believe our work with educators — from schools in the local Richmond region to as far away as Germany and Switzerland — fits nicely with this priority.

Finally, as you have come to expect, there are many stories and links on the successes of the faculty, alumni and students. Faculty and staff are publishing, being quoted in local news articles, and even receiving Fulbright appointments. While our students are not only succeeding in pursuing their goals, but also giving back to our Spider community. As always, please be sure to check out (and follow) @URleaders on Twitter.

In closing, we need to be grateful for where we are now that the pandemic has receded, but we also have to mindful that the impact is still felt in our schools and society. If you see a teacher, make sure you thank them for all they are doing and give them the praise that they deserve. And, if you know anyone who wants to be a teacher — make sure you tell them about our wonderful Spider family!

Have a great Fall everyone!

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

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Program Highlights

November 1, 2022
Shields teams up with Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities for 'Unpacking the Census'

Unpacking the Census, a partnership between the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and the University of Richmond, examines structural inequality through census research. On November 7, the project celebrates ten years, shares new research, and engages in conversation with regional experts.

October 18, 2022
International scholars from Europe visit campus in grant-funded faculty exchange

Professors Michael Krueger and Pierre Tulowitzki visited Richmond as part of SPCS Associate Dean Tom Shields’ involvement in an International Digital Education Network (IDEN) grant through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

July 27, 2022
SPCS Academic Update
Educational leadership program implements curriculum changes

The M.Ed. in educational leadership and policy studies has been reduced to 31 semester. The curriculum has an increased focus on human resource management and fiscal leadership as well as change through an equity lens.

Education Briefs

Students sitting at tables posing for a group shot

Grad Ed Alums Give Back

Alums Jen O’Ferrall, GC’17; Maddy Hargis, GC’18 & GC’21; and Maria Bartz, GC’18, support Kate Cassada’s First Year Seminar (FYS) class by serving as guest speakers and hosting the students on their school campuses. The students, enrolled in “The Angst Years: Hormones, High Anxiety, and Happiness,” explore adolescent education and single-sex/coed education.

Author Angela Dominquez speaking to a group of listeners seating and looking at a screen showing book front covers

Children’s Author Angela Dominguez Visited Campus

On October 26, children’s author and illustrator Angela Dominguez spoke about her work. There were nearly 75 people attendance to hear Dominguez. This was the first time in three years that the event was held in person.

Participants posting for a group photo in front of a globe sculpture in a courtyard

CCPS Aspiring Leaders Attended Workshop

Teacher LEAD is a partnership between Chesterfield County Schools Office of Professional Learning and the Center for Leadership in Education. This summer, Tom Shields, Dana Jackson, and Kate Cassada led an energized group of CCPS aspiring leaders through a multi-day workshop exploring leadership in educational contexts.

Announcements & Reminders

Spring 2023 Registration

Spring registration opens on November 8 and the class schedule is available online. Review the spring academic calendar for details.

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

Graduation Application

If you plan on graduating in December 2022 or May 2023, you should have already submitted your degree application. If you missed this deadline and require assistance, please contact your respective Graduate Education program advisor. Additional details are available on the Registrar’s Graduation pages.

Fall 2022 Comprehensive Requirements

  • Curriculum & Instruction students: Exams will be held November 4-22. Eligible students will be contacted with further details by their respective program in early fall.
  • Educational Leadership & Policy Studies students: Capstone projects due Sunday, November 13.

Introducing the Education Studio

Formerly the CMC, the Education Studio supports students and faculty in the Teacher Preparation Program by providing an assortment of print, instructional, and technology resources for exploration, use, and evaluation.

Updates from Our Centers

November 1, 2022
Partners in the Arts update: Joan Oates Institute for Integrated Learning

Over the summer and into the current fall semester, Partners in the Arts (PIA) has been utilizing its REB Award funds to pilot the Joan Oates Institute for Integrated Learning (JOIFIL) model of educator and community expert side-by-side training, planning, and in-school implementation.

November 1, 2022
Center for Leadership in Education update: Next Generation Leadership Academy

The Center for Leadership in Education (CLE), in partnership with school divisions of Amelia, Caroline, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Powhatan Counties, and Richmond Public Schools, kicked off of the 18th Next Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA) this fall.

Welcome New Education Staff!

Alison Travis is the new Program Coordinator for Partners in the Arts. Reach her at

Marcia Carrell is the new Administrative Coordinator for Education and other degree programs. Reach her at

Megan Kertis is an advisor with the PLuS grant. Reach her at

New & Ongoing Initiatives

PLuS Grant Update

We’re supporting pre-service and new teachers who have been granted temporary licenses to fill classroom vacancies caused by educators leaving the profession. These teachers need classroom support and assistance to achieve full licensure and thrive in their classrooms. Using funds awarded by the REB Foundation, the Provisional License Support (PLuS) program provides advising, coaching, discounted coursework and testing vouchers for those serving in high-need schools. To learn more, contact Deborah Napoli at

CCPS Gifted Education Cohort Launched

Chesterfield County Public Schools began a cohort of gifted education teachers this fall. The teachers will take the four gifted education courses required for the add-on gifted endorsement and will complete the courses by July 2023. We are thrilled for this opportunity to work with Chesterfield teachers and know that they will provide excellent support to the students in gifted education in Chesterfield County Public Schools.

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

Education Faculty Serving on University Committees

Dana Jackson is serving as a faculty representative to the Board of Trustees Committee for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Kate Cassada is serving on the Provost Search Committee

Bob Spires is serving on the University’s Planning & Priorities Committee

Faculty Updates

Katherine (Kate) Maurer Cassada
Cassada, Alums & Student Present at Symposium

Kate Cassada, associate professor & assistant chair of educational leadership, and Harold Fitrer, adjunct associate professor of education & CEO of Communities in Schools of Richmond, facilitated a panel presentation by former & current students Annika Kuruvilla, ’22; Addi Mansini, ’22; Katherine Pollock, ’22 & Nichole Schiff, ’23; at the Brightpoint Community College SYNCH 2023 Symposium.

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Harold Fitrer
Fitrer, Alums & Student Present at Symposium

Harold Fitrer, adjunct associate professor of education & CEO of Communities in Schools of Richmond, and Kate Cassada, associate professor & assistant chair of educational leadership, facilitated a panel presentation by former & current students Annika Kuruvilla, ’22; Addi Mansini, ’22; Katherine Pollock, ’22 & Nichole Schiff, ’23; at the Brightpoint Community College SYNCH 2023 Symposium.

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Robert McAdams Jr.
McAdams Facilitates MLK Day Community Conversation

Rob McAdams, director of Partners in the Arts, facilitated a community conversation with Glen Lea Elementary School principal James Gordon during this year’s MLK Celebration. The conversation, titled “How can we become beacons of light and hope in our communities?” focused on what Gordon calls “heartwork” and “hardwork.”

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Tom J. Shields
Shields Facilitates MLK Day Community Conversation

Tom Shields, SPCS associate dean and graduate education chair, facilitated a community conversation with Offce of Community Wealth Building director Caprichia Spellman during this year’s MLK Celebration. The conversation, titled “How do we respond to the intersectional crises in our communities?” focused on inequality in Richmond and the role of intersectional work in positively impacting communities.

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