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EDUCATION connection For more stories about the Curry School, Curry alumni, and the profession of education, visit education-connections

May 31 - June 3 For more information, visit

Curry Reunion Luncheon Saturday, June 2 Noon - 1:30 p.m.

New Curry Alumni Magazine Now Online Mobile Device Friendly In the Spring 2012 edition: • Alumni Living Abroad • Alumni Writing Contest Results • Curry’s Role in School Desegregation • Faculty in Print • and more!

Education Connections is published by the Curry School of Education and is sponsored by the Curry School of Education Foundation, P.O. Box 400276, Charlottesville, VA 22904


U.Va. Reunions Weekend

Student Autonomy

Evidence shows that increasing autonomy also increases engagement


dolescent students don’t necessarily come to school with an intrinsic desire to please adult authority figures. Keeping these students motivated and engaged, especially as they progress through the secondary grades can be a significant challenge for teachers. One way to keep students motivated is by supporting their autonomy, according to a recent study of 578 Virginia high school students conducted by the Curry School’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL). Students who perceived at the beginning of the year that a class offered low levels of autonomy lost interest, and their engagement declined over the course of the year. The exciting news is that students who rated a course as offering them higher levels of autonomy displayed increasing engagement throughout the year. Students both claimed to be engaged and exhibited engaged behavior. They asked questions, volunteered information, participated in activities, and stayed on task. How do teachers create a classroom environment that supports an appropriate level of autonomy while also staying on track with a packed curriculum? “It’s mainly about giving students meaningful choices within lessons and authentic opportunities for leadership and responsibility,” says Chris Hafen, a research associate at CASTL. Hafen is part of the research team that developed an observational instrument for describing classroom characteristics that predict student achievement. Support —continued on page 2

“It’s mainly about giving students meaningful choices within lessons and authentic opportunities for leadership and responsibility.”

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for autonomy is one important aspect of a broader dimension they refer to as “regard for adolescent perspectives.” He recommends the following: 1. Give students a choice in how to complete their assignments. This can be as simple as letting them choose whether to work on an assignment alone or with a group. 2. Offer opportunities for leadership within the classroom. Leadership can come in the form of assisting with classroom procedures,

planning special events, being a group leader, or leading an activity. The key is to promote involvement from all students, which will instill in them a sense of responsibility for the classroom. 3. Challenge students to take ownership of their own learning by asking them how an activity or content is related to their own lives. Involving them in a discussion of how the material they are learning is relevant is a powerful tool for increasing their interest.

Class Notes

The benefits of engaging students in learning are profound. Students not only retain more knowledge, but they present fewer behavioral problems. For more information about the Center for Advanced Study of Teacher and Learning, see Read more about this engagement study at

Submit your class note at

We were thrilled to receive an overwhelming response of class notes from our alumni! There were so many, we couldn’t fit them all in the newsletter. The following is a listing of alumni who submitted information. You can read their complete class notes online at education-connection

2010s Ben Blohowiak (M.Ed. ‘11 IT) Christina Brown (M.T. ’11 Engl Ed) Whitney Hinnant (M.T. ‘11 Spec Ed) Jenna Pastuszek (M.T. ‘10 Elem Ed) Maggie Thornton (M.Ed. ‘11 Engl Ed) Alice Wiggins (M.Ed. ‘90, M.Ed. ‘10 Ed Psych) Liz Wood (M.T. ‘10 Math Ed)

2000s Brian Campbell (M.Ed. ‘03 Ed Pol Studies) Michelle Capozzoli (M.T. ‘01 Spec Ed) Erika (Glavan) Caruso (M.T. ‘05 Elem Ed) Robin G. Crowder (Ed.D. ’00 Admin & Supv) Michelle Henry (M.Ed. ’07 Spec Ed) Sarah Henry (M.T. ‘09 Elem Ed) Jenny Johnson (M.T. ‘02 English Ed) Tracey Jones (M.Ed. ‘06 C&I) Kate Juhl (M.T. ‘06 Soc St Educ) Cindy Kean (M.T. ‘06 Elem Ed) Soojin Lim (M.Ed. ’07 Ed Psych) Patrick J. McGuinn (M.Ed. ’01 Ed Policy Studies) Chester Mummau (Ed.D. ‘04 Admin & Supv) Denise Ondrof (M.Ed. ‘00 Ed Psych) Brendan O’Shea (M.Ed. ‘01 Admin & Supv) Michelle Reininger (M.Ed. ’01 Ed Policy Studies) Alexandra Roosenburg (M.T. ‘05 Elem Ed) Daniel Smith (M.T. ‘07 Sci Ed) Terrell Strayhorn (M.Ed. ‘00 Pol Studies) Jennifer Ursomarso (M.T. ‘08 Spec Ed) Kathleen VanOrden (M.Ed. ‘05 Reading)

Alexa Frisbie (M.T. ‘91) Roberta Gentry (M.T. ‘97 Spec Ed) Robert Heffern (Ed.D. ‘99 Admin & Supv) Craig Herring (M.T. ‘94 Math Ed) Francine Johnston (M.Ed. ‘86, Ed.D. ‘95 C&I) Virginia Loh-Hagan (M.T. ‘99 Spec Ed) Natalie Lorenzi (M.T. ‘90 Elem Ed) Kathleen Millar (Ed.S. ‘92 C&I) Nicole Myers (M.T. ‘96 Spec Ed) Leslie Parpart (M.T. ‘95 Elem Ed) Michelle Paul (M.T. ‘92 Elem Ed) Maryl Randel (M.T. ‘99 Spec Ed) Carol A. Sinwell (M.Ed. ’00 Soc Fdns, Ed.D. ’08 Admin & Supv) Martha Spencer (M.Ed. ‘90 Elem Ed) Amanda (Renaghan) Taylor (M.T. ‘99 Engl Ed) Elizabeth White (M.Ed. ‘91 Elem Ed) Dion Woolfolk (M.T. ‘98 Elem Ed)

1980s Allison Brochu (B.S. ‘82 Math Ed) Alfred Butler (M.Ed. ‘68, Ed.D. ‘77 Admin & Supv) Robert Horn (M.Ed. ‘82 Admin & Supv) Gerry Kruger (M.Ed. ‘83 Reading) Carol Pope (Ed.D. ‘83 Engl Ed) Karen Reidelbach (B.S. ‘83 Elem Ed) Susan Roda (M.Ed. ‘73) Patricia Walters (M.Ed. ‘85 Admin & Supv)

1960s AND 1970s Ruth Allen (M.Ed. ‘69) Winston Odom (M.Ed. ’79, Admin & Supv)



Amy Angelo Cohen (M.T. ’97 Spec Ed) Charles Easley (M.Ed. ‘96 Admin & Supv)

Deborah D. Pettit (M.Ed. ’84, Ed.D. ’94 C&I) of Louisa County Public Schools (Region 5)


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and Bob Grimesey (Ed.D. ’91 Admin & Supv) of Orange County Public Schools (Region 4) were both selected as 2013 Regional Superintendents of the Year for their respective regions by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

IN MEMORIAM Sylvia J. Henderson (M.Ed. ’74 Admin & Supv) died on January 21, 2012, at the age of 69. Henderson was principal of Woodbrook, Agnor Hurt, and Meriwether Lewis Elementary Schools in Charlottesville and worked with many Curry faculty and students over the years. Mary Hall Pace (M.Ed. ’56) of Falls Church, Va., died on March 24, 2012. She was a retired principal of Cedar Lane Elementary School in Fairfax County, and she served a term on the Curry School Foundation Board of Directors from 1986 to 1989. Her husband Warren J. Pace (M.Ed. ‘54) is a retired superintendent of Falls Church Schools. Joseph Neal Payne (M.Ed. ’51, Ph.D ’55 Math Ed) died at age 82 on March 6, 2012, in Charlottesville. Payne taught at Indian Springs School in Birmingham, Al., and the University of Wisconsin in Madison before joining the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Education, where he enjoyed working for forty years. In his retirement years, Payne served on the board of directors of the Curry School of Education Foundation. Patricia Louise Pullen (M.Ed. ‘76) died at age 73 on March 20, 2012, at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge after a six-month battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She was a retired special education teacher at Jackson-Via Elementary School. She was married to James Kaufman, Professor Emeritus of the Curry School.


Alumna Ann Clark pulls off reform in a large urban school district.


What important lessons have you learned in the process of achieving this success?


s chief academic officer for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in North Carolina, Ann B. Clark (M.Ed. ’82 Spec Ed) can take a good share of the credit for leading the district’s impressive advances in student achievement on a number of fronts. The district, which is the 18th largest in the country, has faced the typical challenges of a large, urban school division. Fifty-three percent of its students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch and one tenth are English language learners. Yet, between 2007 and 2010 the district narrowed the achievement gap between white and minority students by 11 percentage points in high school reading. Last year 62 percent of the district’s seniors took the SAT exam. Over 89 percent of the district’s schools averaged more than one year’s academic growth for students, which is a substantial gain from 54 percent in 2006. “Philosophically, you can’t be in the excuses business as educators,” Clark says. “I believe a quality education can be what helps turn the tide of poverty in this country. Your home life and economic status can’t determine your academic achievement.” Clark took a few moments from her work to answer some questions for Education Connection: What success under your purview at CMS are you most proud of?

Without question, I am most proud of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools being recognized as the Broad Prize for Urban Education winner in the fall of 2011. The Broad Prize is given to the urban district with the greatest student achievement gains with particular success in reducing the achievement gap over a four year period. In addition, CMS was a finalist for the Broad Prize in 2004 and 2010, and I am thrilled about our academic progress on behalf of every student.

CMS chose two key levers for our reform strategy. These two levers were to have an effective principal leading each school and an effective teacher in each classroom. Realizing that we were not where we needed to be with either of these key levers, CMS initiated a Strategic Staffing Initiative to place our most effective principals in our lowest performing schools with a team of five to seven highly effective teachers, literacy facilitators, and assistant principals. These teams are granted freedom and flexibility with accountability to implement a turnaround strategy matched to the unique needs of the schools.

How do you balance strategic staffing and aggressive school turnaround efforts with principal/teacher stress and burnout?

The urgency of the graduation cohort rate and student achievement gap in CMS has required us to strategically staff 24 schools in the last three years. Our kids cannot afford for us to slow our pace and that is why our strategy focused on placing our top talent in our neediest schools. What do you wish every teacher knew?

In CMS the title of our strategic plan is “Teaching Our Way to the Top” for a reason. No school district in this nation can be more successful than the level of effectiveness of its teaching force and teacher impact on student achievement.

Curry School Workshops for Teachers and Administrators Increasing Teacher Effectiveness - May 31 Learn how to make data-driven decisions to support teachers and improve student learning in elementary classrooms. Enhancing Instructional Interactions by Creating a Common Language - June 25 Learn how to help secondary teachers make the most of instructional time. For more information about both workshops, visit

Curry School Off-Grounds Education Programs • Administration & Supervision: EdS, MEd, Endorsement • Gifted Education: Endorsement • Reading Education: EdS, MEd, Certificate • Social Foundations: MEd

“you can’t be in the excuses business as educators.” Clark has nearly 30 years of experience in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, since joining the district in 1983 as a teacher of behaviorally and emotionally disabled children. She served in various school leadership positions for nearly a decade. In 1994 she was named National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Later, she moved to district administration and become chief academic officer in 2009. She is currently a finalist in the CMS superintendent search.

• Special Education: MEd, Initial Licensure • ESL: Endorsement, Certificate Fall 2012 application deadline for degree programs is June 1 Or register for a class as a professional development student. Administered and delivered solely by the Curry School as of fall 2012.

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Education Connection P.O. Box 400268 417 Emmet Street South Charlottesville, VA 22904-4268

Find more Curry stories at

West Coast Charter Experience


ina Schuster Chavez (M.T. ‘04 Soc Stud Ed) fell in love with teaching while serving in the Peace Corps in Namibia, which is what brought her to Curry. She taught at Fluvanna High School, then spent three years at the Carol Morgan American School in the Dominican Republic. Upon returning to the US, she taught a year at High Tech Middle Media Arts in Point Loma, Calif., then moved to High Tech High North County in 2010, where she teachers 12th-grade Government and Politics. High Tech High is an independent public charter school launched in 2000, which now encompasses a network of schools spanning grades K-12, as well as a teacher certification program and Graduate School of Education. Students are accepted by lottery to maintain an ethnically and economically diverse student body. To graduate, they must complete a substantial academic internship in a local business or social service agency. Ninety-nine percent of the Class of 2011 went to college last fall. Chavez loves her job, which is obvious from her responses that follow: What is most exciting about teaching at HTH?

Working at a project-based school makes every day so different. As teachers we have complete creative license to design a project that will pull students into the work. There is constant engagement, and I am always amazed at the quality of work that the students produce during their exhibitions of work at the end of each project. What is most different about your experience there compared to previous schools where you’ve taught?

The focus is completely on the students and their projects. I don’t feel outside pressure from testing or “getting through” a textbook. We don’t use textbooks, so we are able to completely design the direction of the students’ learning. There was a slight adjustment to this new way of approaching teaching, but I realized quickly that this is how I will keep 4

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from burning out. I always feared that after a certain number of years, I would burn out and look to do something else, perhaps in the field of education. Teaching in a project-based learning school and being surrounded by other thoughtful and creative educators, I feel grateful to have found this school. What have you learned there about teaching kids who face difficult challenges in their personal lives?

I think that kids build up different degrees of defensiveness depending on things that have happened to them in their lives. You have to be persistent in working through these layers to get to the core of trust. We don’t have a tracking system at our school because separating students can further cement a message they might have received somewhere along the line that they are not good enough or smart enough to be with other students. By integrating all kids, you show that you believe they are all capable of creating beautiful work. What accomplishment over this school year are you most proud of?

We have been learning about US government through the lens of the education system. The students picked one of the departments, and then we found some field work so that we could really go into depth examining the politics and inner workings of the Department of Education. My students have been going out into the community and working with two middle schools from one of the neighboring counties. They presented their research and understandings to a panel of community members and parents. They also wrote creative pieces about one of the issues they were focusing on. Hearing them read their creative writing pieces about issues such as standardized testing, modern day segregation in schools, funding, tenure, gender divisions in the math classroom and many more topics, I was amazed at how much they learning through doing, talking to students and teachers instead of simply reading about these issues. Chavez is currently enrolled in the HTH Graduate School of Education. Read her reflection on collegial coaching from her digital portfolio at http://


Education Connection Alumni Newsletter  

Newsletter for alumni of Curry School of Education education professional preparation programs.

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