Graduate Education Newsletter

Fall 2021

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.

As the summer weather fades and cool mornings and colorful trees arrive, we in Graduate Education wish you all the best in your professional and personal lives. Have a great fall!

Greetings from the Chair

Tom Shields headshot Each semester, I make a point in my graduate courses to interact with my students as they arrive and get settled in class. In these brief but important moments, I listen as the students describe what is happening in their classrooms, in their schools, and in their lives. From what I have heard this fall semester and what we have witnessed, the start of the K-12 school year has been incredibly challenging and difficult. We thought that our schools and lives would return to some form of normalcy and the pandemic would recede to a distant memory. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and the return to school has been anything but normal.

Although the school year is young, we are seeing a social-emotional toll that is pushing staff, teachers and administrators to the breaking point. A recent Washington Post article summed up what is happening in schools with a blaring headline, “Why So Many Teachers are Thinking of Quitting.” School systems are taking notice and employing needed measures to assist and help address this growing crisis. In fact, as I write this letter, Richmond Public Schools have recognized this exhaustion and stress and have shifted more resources to assist with the well-being of its employees.

At the School of Professional and Continuing Studies and in our Graduate Education programs, we have also recognized the strain that the pandemic has put on our students and our adjunct faculty, many of whom are employed in schools. As a team, we have worked hard to assist students and adjunct faculty in making sure that they feel supported and accommodated this fall semester. Our staff and faculty have recognized the need for relationships, communication, and to assist in any way possible. I think this focus on a sense of belonging and engagement is what is so special about working in a small, liberal arts university. We realize that our programs are truly about our students and we are willing to do anything to make sure they succeed. From late-night emails, to Zoom check-ins, to supporting students who get sick, to helping out adjunct faculty who are juggling work and teaching, we have tried our best to make sure our students and faculty colleagues feel they are part of our Spider community.

In addition, in this fall 2021 Graduate Education e-newsletter, you will read about how we have continued to work on grants, professional development, and outreach to our local schools. Our staff and faculty have engaged with local schools in creating partnerships in teaching, curriculum, and leadership development. Two areas that we will be focusing on in the coming academic year are culturally responsive schools and assisting provisionally licensed teachers with gaining licensure. Our staff and faculty have already been working hard to address these issues and it will be the focal point of the fall meeting with our Education Advisory Board.

In this e-newsletter you will learn about our Graduate Education Speaker Series on November 4 at 5:30 pm, which features a discussion titled, First Generation Asian Americans in Virginia: A Dialogue on Diverse Migration Experiences. Our faculty and staff will also participate in another diversity, equity, and inclusivity book discussion this year. The book we will be using is titled, Looking Like a Language, Sounding Like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latindad by Jonathan Rosa.

Finally, as part of our Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) process, we have been examining the data on diversity, equity and inclusivity in our programs and have developed a recruitment plan for all students to thrive and have a sense of belonging in our courses and field experiences.

As we look back on the start of the fall semester, we see how the pandemic has disrupted and, in many ways, changed our K-12 schools and educational environment, particularly as it relates to issues of equity. With any change comes challenges, but also opportunities. Be on the lookout for additional information from us in the near future about how we are continuing to assist schools with these changes and provide opportunities to work on these equity challenges.

As the summer weather fades and cool mornings and colorful trees arrive, we in Graduate Education wish you all the best in your professional and personal lives. Have a great fall!

Be safe and be well!

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

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Center for Leadership in Education Updates

October 27, 2021
Center For Leadership In Education
UR supports Chesterfield County Public Schools leader succession planning with LEAD program

The Center for Leadership in Education worked over the summer with aspiring Chesterfield County Public Schools leaders through its LEAD program to explore leadership studies and to examine their own conceptions of and practices in leadership.

October 27, 2021
Center For Leadership In Education
Next Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA) launches 17th annual session

The Center for Leadership in Education, under the direction of Kate Cassada and Dana Jackson, celebrated the kick-off of its 17th annual Next Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA) on September 29.

Asian & Asian American Experience Webinar Series

Photos from Exploring Asian Identity (Oct. 20) from the Intercultural Communication Center (ICC) at Waseda University
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  • Exploring Asian Identities - UR and Waseda University

No events scheduled at this time.

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2nd+ Generation Asian American & Pacific Islander Experience in Virginia

Spring 2022 date TBA

Announcements & Reminders

COVID-19 Response

We remain in the Lime stage of the University’s Physical Distancing Framework. Please regularly check the SPCS COVID-19 response page for updated information. SPCS spring classes are available as in person, online, or hybrid classes.

Spring 2022 Registration

Spring registration opens on November 9, 2021. The class schedule is available online. 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.

Comprehensive Exams

Fall 2021 Comprehensive Exams will take place in November. Eligible students have been contacted with additional details by their specific programs.

Graduate Application

If you plan on graduating in December 2021 or May 2022, 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.


Education Advisory Board

The Education program will convene a group of program graduates, local P-12 partners and leaders, and other community stakeholders in our Education Advisory Board. This group collaborates and shares ways to improve the preparation of future teacher and leaders, while also finding ways for our institution to support and serve these stakeholders in our community. This year, we will be working collaboratively to discuss the current teacher shortage and alternative routes to teaching and the need for culturally responsive practices to achieve equitable schools.

Celebrating Arts Integrated Learning Certificate Earners

August 23, 2021
University of Richmond, Richmond Public Schools To Celebrate Results of Department of Education Grant for Arts Integration
Nearly 200 Richmond Public Schools educators have received training through the Arts Integrated Learning Certificate program in the School of Professional & Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond.
Photos from the Partners in the Arts AILC Celebration
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Partners in the Arts Featured Programs

PIA logo

Illuminating History: InLight Lantern Making

Remote online free workshop for educators led by Kerry Mills, held October 28

Discover how to use light and shape to make curricular connections through 1708 Gallery’s InLight Richmond. Learn how to create a unique lantern that your students can create in your class, and use their creations to participate in the InLight Community Lantern Parade Nov. 12.

Mending Walls K-12: Teaching Empathy & Creative Collaboration

On-demand online free workshop for educators led by Hamilton Glass and mural artists

Explore prompts and strategies for having difficult conversations on how we can connect as people, and as artists working together to create community murals. The Mending Walls RVA Mural Project facilitates the ongoing conversation around racial and social justice in our country, and was founded as a response to the community unrest following the murder of George Floyd.

Observing with Your Sketchbook

On-demand online free workshop for educators led by Aijung Kim

Integrate observation and sketch-journaling skills into your classes. Basic drawing/journaling, and PIA content to performance task alignment tools are modeled using ELA and Visual art standards. The link above gives you access to the workshop video, lesson plan, and resources within a PDF document

PIA Partnership: Modlin Arts School Series

Limited-time free streaming video and resources provided by the Modlin Center for the Arts

  • October 18-25, Cartography: A virtual theatrical work centered on themes of migration, dislocation, and resilience, geared towards grades 7-12.
  • November 18–January 28, 2022, Sonia De Los Santos: A free virtual concert for grades K-5 centered on Latin American culture and the immigrant experience.

Bob Spires
Spires Publishes Chapter in Human Trafficking Collection

Bob Spires, associate professor of education, has published a chapter in an edited collection titled Human Trafficking: Global History and Perspectives. Spires’ chapter is titled “Human Trafficking, Antitrafficking, and Contemporary Theory.” The collection is available for pre-order and will be released later this month (November 15).

View Bio
Jamelle S. Wilson
Wilson Facilitates Economics Executive Briefing

Jamelle S. Wilson, dean of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies, facilitated the Eighth Annual Executive Briefing on “The Economics of Early Childhood: Smart Beginnings for Virginia’s Workforce Pipeline” co-hosted by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation® and the Virginia Chamber Foundation.

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Laura M. Kuti
Kuti Earns University Distinguished Educator Award

Laura Kuti, assistant chair of teacher education and assistant professor of education, was named a 2021 recipient of the University’s Distinguished Educator Award at the annual Colloquy celebration held August 18.

View Bio
Bob Spires
Spires Offers Tips on Heading Back to School

Bob Spires, associate professor of education, offers tips for parents and students alike to make the initial return to class, and then the remainder of the school year, work best for families — especially after enduring remote learning during the previous year. Spires’ tips are featured on Fox Richmond and Connect RVA’s School’s On video segments.

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