Skating to Success

Brooke Turner_HP

Brooke Turner flies down College Avenue, four wheels at her feet and a head full of music. She’s humming. “I feel like Superman …” The first line of a favorite song, it mirrors the vibe the UMW senior gets when she glides across campus on her skateboard. Invincible. Her unique way of getting to class, as fresh as her passion for empowering others, has steered her toward a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She plans to keep those wheels turning at Mary Washington, even after she graduates in May. “My whole life I’ve had a passion for teaching,” said Turner, who aims to attend UMW’s Master of Education program in the fall. “Helping and caring for others is something I strive to do every day. It’s something that comes naturally to me.” Her nurturing nature, especially for underprivileged children, has led Turner to make some powerful contributions in the Fredericksburg community. Through internships with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and James Monroe High School, where she … [Read more...]

Exploring Education

Environmental science student Katy Chase works with Professor George Meadows to create several portable environmental education kits. Photo by Bob Martin.

Katy Chase has bug viewers, digital microscopes, binoculars and GPS navigation systems at her disposal when she shares her knowledge about environmental science with the community. Using two recently purchased environmental science kits, Chase is one of 15 University of Mary Washington students teaching local families at the England Run Library as part of a partnership with UMW. She aims to ignite in them a similar passion and appreciation for science that she holds dear. “In schools teachers might be a little afraid of science and kids aren’t always exposed to different tools and materials related to the sciences. They learn a lot from textbooks,” said the environmental science and Master of Science in elementary education student. She’s already spread her love for science to Brazil, where as an intern, she taught environmental science in public schools. After she graduates, Chase plans to continue in the classroom, either home or abroad. Using the kits, Chase creates … [Read more...]

Teaching Tactics

Lauren Puglia

Lauren Puglia remembers teaching her stuffed animals as a first-grader in her basement using a toy easel. Today, she’s living that childhood fantasy as a multiple disabilities teacher while taking classes for her master’s degree in education at the University of Mary Washington. … [Read more...]

Educating Innovators

Professor Teresa Coffman uses new technologies to teach her education graduate students.

Don’t walk into Teresa Coffman’s classroom and expect to see a typical lecture. “I flip my classroom,” said Coffman. “I want my students to read and explain and think about the information. I like to hear what they have to say and how we can make it better.” An associate professor at the University of Mary Washington’s College of Education, Coffman pioneers innovative education in the classroom to inspire future teachers. “Technology is a tool that can create an environment that really gets students thinking effectively,” said Coffman. “It provides a vast amount of new sources and possibilities.” Coffman’s graduate courses focus on critical and creative thinking for real-world applications. “I want my students to think about ways that they can engage their students in new ways of thinking,” said Coffman. “You can’t just sit in front of a computer and expect learning to occur.” She requires blogs in all her classes, where students reflect and post assignments to … [Read more...]

Flipping the Classroom

Mustache-Mathematics-Jon-Meister

At first glance, Jon Meister ’13 looks like a teacher from another time with his handlebar mustache, black satin vest, and thick-framed glasses, but his teaching style – honed at the University of Mary Washington – is anything but old fashioned. For his final research project, Meister explored one of the latest trends in education, a flipped classroom. At its most basic level, a flipped classroom is where students learn a lesson at home via video and then come to class to work on homework. It’s a move away from the traditional classroom where a teacher gives a lecture and then students work on homework problems on their own time. In his final semester at UMW, Meister was a student teacher at his alma mater, Norview High School in Norfolk, Va. He worked with 18 seventh-grade students to flip the way that they learn algebra and geometry. Meister recorded YouTube math lessons that the students watched outside of class time, and then the students worked in the classroom on … [Read more...]

Homework Helpers

Education student

Math homework stumped one local Fredericksburg second-grader. She was puzzled by the number sequence problem in the evening assignment, and the more she tried to work the problem, the more exasperated she became. UMW senior Ciara Norquist sensed her frustration and convinced her to take a break from her studies. They built charts and focused on finding patterns. Within minutes, the student returned to her homework and completed it with ease “For the kids, it’s like having a second teacher. The one-on-one time is important,” said Norquist, who is among 31 UMW tutors who have volunteered with the Hazel Hill Homework Club. The club, which started fall semester, began as a way to help UMW students fulfill their service-learning requirement in an “Elementary Social Studies Methods” class, taught by John Broome, assistant professor in the College of Education. Students in Broome’s class are required to complete 10 hours of service and many opt to volunteer as tutors for the … [Read more...]

Envision, Design, Print

Think Lab_cropgm

Imagination flourishes on the second floor of Simpson Library. Just ask University of Mary Washington senior Alice Watkins who is turning her two-sided creations into wearable art. She joins others in the UMW community who have discovered the wonders of a new three-dimensional printer, called MakerBot. Watkins is investigating 3-D printing through art in her independent study project called “Blending into Reality.” In a classroom at Simpson Library dubbed the Think Lab, Watkins watches the MakerBot as it whirs and hums while a spool of plastic thread slowly transforms a flat image on a computer screen into a three-dimensional object. She picks up the small, gray piece from the printer and places it with her collection. “That’s the reason it is called the Think Lab,” she said. “If you can think it, you can make it here.” She hopes to make a full-size tunic or vest with the pieces, called “scale mail,” by the end of the semester. Watkins, a studio art major, received … [Read more...]

Growing a New Generation of Educators

Laurie Abeel

Grades aren’t foremost on the mind of Laurie Abeel. The College of Education associate professor focuses more on the journey for her graduate-level students. “My approach in every single class deals with growth, not grades,” said Abeel, who teaches gifted education courses. “I’m more concerned with ‘do they understand what I’m trying to teach’ and ‘have they shown growth by the end of the course?’” Some of her students have gone on to use her strategies and methods in their own classrooms. Abeel credits much of her classroom philosophy to her involvement with Destination Imagination, known as DI, an international program focused on the creative process, critical thinking, leadership and team work. For almost the past decade, she has served as Virginia affiliate director of DI, volunteering to coordinate Virginia’s programs and the state tournament. “It influences almost everything I do. All the skills we try to teach the kids [in DI], I use in my classes,” she said, … [Read more...]

Fun and Learning Foremost at UMW Play Lab

Play Lab 4

When Laura Johnson '12 registered for classes for her last undergraduate semester at the University of Mary Washington, she added one that wasn’t required—the Play Lab, an education course that gives students hands-on experience working with disabled students. Johnson, who majored in historic preservation and elementary education with a focus in museum studies, thought the class would be beneficial to her as a teacher. “You can’t control who comes into your classroom,” she said.  “As a teacher, you’re responsible for giving every student the best education that you can, so I thought it was part of my responsibility as a teacher.” The Play Lab, in its third semester at UMW, is a parent resource and clinic for children with developmental delays, such as autism and intellectual disabilities. Bolstered through community donations and grant awards, the course has been cited as a model program by Virginia Commonwealth’s Center for Autism Excellence. UMW students spend seven … [Read more...]