Graduate Education Newsletter

Fall 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 educators participating in the Center for Leadership in Education’s Next Generation Leadership Academy, which launched for its 19th consecutive year.

Greetings from the Chair

Tom Shields headshot Hello. As the temperatures grow colder and we wake to frosty mornings, I am excited to provide you with updates on what has been happening in Graduate Education over the past several months. Since I communicated with you in the spring semester, our students, staff, faculty, and alumni have been very busy.

Much like the approaching holidays, a theme of this fall Graduate Education e-newsletter is connectedness. At a time when education, particularly K-12 education, is a battleground, we have continued to forge deep connections across local, state, and global communities. As an integral part of the University of Richmond, we view our role as helping to promote the ideal that education is a fundamental right for every K-12 student.

In this edition of the newsletter, you will see how we are establishing connections in communities that are just a few miles from our campus to those that are thousands of miles away. Below is a summary of these connections. I encourage you to read and view the pictures in the newsletter:

  • The REB Foundation has awarded the University of Richmond’s Provisional License Support (PLuS) program an additional $188,294 in continued resources to support our efforts to address critical teacher shortages in K-12 education. PLuS addresses teacher shortages in under-resourced schools through mentoring, coaching, and financial support for academic coursework. Through PLuS, we continue to assist teachers in our local school divisions by providing provisional license coursework and quality advising that will hopefully lead to licensure.
  • Faculty and staff are actively engaged with local schools and communities through a variety of innovative programs such as Teacher LEAD, Next Generation Leadership Academy, and our Partners in the Arts.
  • Faculty are busy publishing their research in academic journals, books, and local periodicals on issues that connect disparate groups in education and in our communities. One of our colleagues, Dr. Kate Cassada, is even writing a continual series of articles on K-12 education for the national publication Forbes.
  • Our students continue to be our focus and passion in classes, internships, advising, and capstones. Since we have students at various levels – professional development, undergraduate, graduate — we are always looking for ways to connect them and bring our diverse student population together.
  • Our alumni are enjoying incredible successes, so please be sure to check out (and follow) @URleaders on X (Twitter).

Through the visuals and the narratives in this e-newsletter, you will see the impact that our connectedness is having on communities and schools. I have always appreciated how a former-colleague described education, “as a human-to-human endeavor.” I think in this e-newsletter you will see how we are striving to make our work an example of those human connections.

In previous newsletters, I have closed with this thought and will reiterate it in this one — we all should go out of our way to thank K-12 teachers, staff, coaches, and school leaders. In such a challenging environment, they deserve our praise and gratitude for the work that they do each and every day. And, if you know anyone who wants to be a future teacher, school leader or just take a class — make sure you tell them about our wonderfully connected Spider family!

Have a great end to the semester!

Tom
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
December 1, 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.

Teachers working on a craft project around a table
December 1, 2023
Center for Leadership in Education update

Updates on programs offered through the Center for Leadership in Education (CLE) including the Next Generation Leadership Academy and the Teacher LEAD program.

Announcements & Reminders

Spring 2024 Registration

Spring registration opened on November 15 and the class schedule is available online. Review the spring 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.

Commencement

If you plan on graduating in December 2023 or May 2024, you should have already submitted your degree application. If you happened to miss the deadline and require assistance, please contact your Graduate Education representative.

Education Briefs

John Parra speaking at podium near screen showing book covers

Children’s Author John Parra Visits Campus

The Education Studio was proud to host award-winning children’s book author John Parra for an author talk. Parra is a three-time winner of the Pura Belpré Honor Award for best Latinx children’s literature.

Adult students in a classroom talking with one another

Student Teachers & Educational Leadership Students Unite for Joint Class

Three classes of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership & Policy Studies students enjoyed the opportunity to partner during a recent presentation by Adria Merritt from the Virginia Department of Education. Focused on Standard 6 of the Uniform Performance Standards for Teachers and Principals, students engaged in meaningful discussion and reflection on culturally responsive teaching and inclusive practices.

Person presenting in front of a computer screen

University’s Faculty & Staff Research Symposium

Several SPCS faculty & staff participated in the University’s Faculty & Staff Research Symposium on campus. Dean Jamelle Wilson and Associate Dean David Kitchen chaired panels, while Associate Dean Tom Shields and Professors Bob Spires & Andrew Schoeneman presented their research.

Three people posing for a photo in front of an iCERi banner

ELPS Faculty and Chesterfield Schools Share Partnership Programs Abroad

Drs. Kate Cassada and Dana Jackson were selected to share two presentations at the International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (iCERi) in Sevilla, Spain.

The first presentation detailed Teacher LEAD, a partnership with Chesterfield County Public Schools designed to help aspiring leaders expand their vision of themselves in leadership. Peyton Anderson, ELPS alumnus and Coordinator of Professional Learning for CCPS, co-presented this session.

The second presentation explored the Center for Leadership in Education’s Next Generation Leadership Academy as a successful partnership between our university and K-12 schools to ensure school leaders have the necessary skills to create successful work and learning environments for teachers and students in a post-Covid world.

Group of people posing in front of a sign in Cambodia

Spires Travels to Southeast Asia with EnCompass Program

Dr. Bob Spires and Dr. Monti Datta led residential undergraduate students on an EnCompass study abroad experience titled Social Justice & Non-Profits: Southeast Asia & Richmond. The program examined the role of humanitarian nonprofits, or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), in the Greater Richmond Area and in Cambodia. NGOs have been on the rise in recent years, worldwide, during what some have called a golden age for NGOs. And yet, the NGO sector can be fraught with challenges, from controversies in funding, internal political divisions, to unforeseen adverse effects on populations meant to benefit. The group visited local NGOs in Richmond then traveled to Cambodia to visit NGOs in Siem Reap, Battambang, and Phnom Penh. NGOs visited included those working on a variety of issues including human trafficking, poverty, and historic legacy.

New & Ongoing Initiatives

PLuS program receives REB Foundation funding

The REB Foundation has awarded the University of Richmond’s Provisional License Support (PLuS) program $188,294 in continued resources to support their efforts to address critical teacher shortages in PreK-12 education. PLuS is a collaborative initiative of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies and the School of Arts and Sciences to address teacher shortages in under resourced schools through mentoring, coaching, and financial support for academic coursework.

A unique collaboration between Dr. Laura Kuti, Assistant Chair of Graduate Education and Dr. Deborah Napoli, Director of Clinical Practice, PLuS helps to support those on a teaching path who have already received an undergraduate degree. PLuS recruits and trains coaches to support participants in their classroom instruction throughout the year. Advisors from UR interpret licensure requirements, help educators enroll in discounted courses, and offer financial support for licensure exams and fees.

To date, PLuS has provided weekly support to 47 provisionally licensed teachers and in turn supported the learning of more than 1,300 students in Title I public schools across the Richmond region. At least 14 PLuS participants have completed the requirements for licensure and are currently employed by local school divisions. Participants have ranged in age from 24 to 67, with an average age of 38.

Teacher licensure initiatives are a critical component of addressing the teacher shortage. The assistance provided in the PLuS program helps to ensure teachers are fully licensed, eligible for hire, and effective in the classroom. The third year of this project will focus on continued program improvement and sustainability.

For more information on PLuS, please contact Deborah Napoli at dnapoli@richmond.edu.

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 or individual courses when a member of the alumni enrolls in a degree or certificate program through the School of Professional & Continuing Studies.

Partnership with VAIS

We attended and provided resources for educators at the VAIS Annual Conference on November 3 at the Benedictine Schools of Richmond. And we’ll attend and provide resources to school leaders at the VAIS Heads of School Conference to be held January 21-23 at the Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville.

Thanks for the opportunity to partner with independent school educators and leaders. SPCS is proud to partner with VAIS.

Education Consortium

SPCS Education programs are pleased to continue the Education Consortium initiative. Qualified employees in Chesterfield and Goochland County Public Schools are eligible for a 20% tuition discount if they are interested in pursuing any degree in education (Teaching, Curriculum & Instruction or Educational Leadership). Qualified Caroline and Henrico County Public Schools employees are eligible for a 20% tuition discount for their Educational Leadership degree at the University of Richmond. If interested, please reach out to Kris Waikart, Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator, at kwaikart@richmond.edu.

CCPS Gifted Education Cohort Launched

Chesterfield County Public Schools began its second gifted education cohort of teachers this fall.  The teachers take the four required gifted education courses required for the add-on gifted endorsement. 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. For details, please reach out to Kris Waikart, Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator for Graduate Education, at kwaikart@richmond.edu.

Faculty Updates

Tom J. Shields
Shields Co-Authors A&S Next Case Study

Tom Shields, associate dean and chair of graduate education, with Emmy Ready, visiting lecturer of Latin American, Latino & Iberian studies, co-authored an A&S Next case study titled “Multilingual Student Success in Public Schools” examining issues of Latinx students’ graduation and retention rates in Richmond Public Schools. Alums Lyons Sanchezconcha, GC’23, Victoria Case Gochez, GC’22, and Jonathan Zur, ’03, collaborated on the project.

View Bio
Bob Spires
Spires Named Co-Editor of Urban Review

Bob Spires, associate professor of education, has been named co-editor-in-chief of The Urban Review: Issues and Ideas in Education, with James Martínez, professor of education from Valdosta State University. The Urban Review provides a forum for the presentation of original investigations, reviews, and essays which examine the issues basic to the improvement of urban schooling and education.

View Bio
Dana R. Jackson
Jackson Presents with Cassada at International Education Conference

Dana Jackson, assistant professor and director of clinical practice in educational leadership, gave two presentations at the 2023 International Conference of Education, Research & Innovation (iCERi) in Seville, Spain. The first, with Kate Cassada, associate professor & chair of educational leadership and director of the Center for Leadership in Education (CLE), and educational leadership alum Peyton Anderson, GC’20, focused on the CLE’s Teacher LEAD partnership. The second, led by Cassada, focused on the CLE’s Next Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA) regional model.

View Bio
Katherine (Kate) Maurer Cassada
Cassada Presents with Jackson at International Education Conference

Kate Cassada, associate professor & chair of educational leadership and director of the Center for Leadership in Education (CLE), gave two presentations at the 2023 International Conference of Education, Research & Innovation (iCERi) in Seville, Spain. The first, with Dana Jackson, assistant professor and director of clinical practice in educational leadership, and educational leadership alum Peyton Anderson, GC’20, focused on the CLE’s Teacher LEAD partnership. The second, led by Jackson, focused on the CLE’s Next Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA) regional model.

View Bio

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