Jeannie Pfautz teaching in the Philippines.
Jeannie Pfautz teaching in the Philippines.

Jeannie Pfautz, alumna of our Reading, Literacy, & Learning graduate program, credits Longwood University for helping her find her niche as a reading instructor.

She started her journey teaching English in Uzbekistan with the Peace Corps. After this experience, she realized that she didn’t know much about how to teach students to read.  Then, in 2006, Pfautz started her first job in the United States as a 9th grade English teacher at Powhatan High School.  At the same time, she also started her first class at Longwood University, “Reading in the Content Area.”

Pfautz explains that it was in this first semester at Longwood she learned that she knew how to analyze English literature, but didn’t have a strong idea of how to help students access difficult text.  The class “Reading in the Content Area” was the perfect opportunity to help her learn more techniques to help support her students.  “I remember using nearly everything I learned in that course in my English classes immediately,” Pfautz says. “I quickly learned that students needed to be able to understand the text first before they were able to do more critical thinking, and my Longwood classes helped me to support students in that access of text.”

As a graduate student who was also working full-time at a high school, Pfautz claims that the classes were great both for their usefulness and because they were structured for teachers to take while already teaching.  The structure of Longwood’s masters program made it possible for her to pursue her masters, while also giving her the theoretical knowledge that she needed to implement better practice.  “I can’t imagine having gotten my masters without teaching or teaching without getting my masters.  It worked so well together,” she goes on to explain.

Pfautz graduated from Longwood in 2009 from the Reading, Literacy, & Learning masters program. After she graduated, she immediately headed to the Philippines for two more years in the Peace Corps.  While in the Philippines, she worked with a fantastic co-teacher, Thelma Presbitero.  Presbitero and Pfautz started a reading intervention program at the high school where they worked and later went on to build a reading center that is still operating today.

As a teacher who consistently is striving to better herself for her students, Pfautz recently finished her Ed.D from the University of Virginia. “Starting the program with my masters definitely helped me with foundational knowledge.  At this point I had been a reading specialist for several years, so I had seen a lot of the practical side of things.  Without my masters from Longwood as well as my practical experience, I don’t think I would have been nearly as strong of a candidate.  I was also able to count some of my masters credits towards my Ed.D. coursework.”

Pfautz is often asked her favorite part about teaching reading. What she loves most about this job is the ability to see the progress her students make in reading development every year and to know that this literacy growth will make a positive impact on their lives well after she has had the pleasure of working with them.

Visit our CGPS Blog for more Graduate Spotlights here.