The Office of Student Research is proud to feature Payton Vernier in this week’s “Scholar Story”. 

Payton Vernier is senior at Longwood University and she is majoring in Theatre with a concentration in PreK-12 Education. In March 2020, she was given the opportunity to fly across the world to Ukraine to present to Ukrainian teachers at the International Scientific-Practical Conference called "Learning Strategies in Inclusive Classrooms Through Basic Subjects and Art”. A Longwood University Office of Student Research Travel Grant helped support Payton’s travel to present at this international conference. 

Payton said that “being able to see other teachers across the globe be so passionate about teaching and their students had the biggest positive impact on me.” Payton’s research with Dr. Ronda Scarrow focused on the theories of Erik Erikson and his take on the psychological development of the mind of a middle schooler. Payton used the research of Erik Erikson to convey the impact that Theatre can make to help middle school students overcome the mental and physical changes they are going through and how it can be incorporated into any classroom. 

Payton’s favorite part of her research was “meeting the teachers. Even though we taught across the globe, at the core of it we were the same; teachers that cared deeply about their students and wanted to make a change with their students.” 

While in Ukraine Payton appreciated “the power of a connection. While we were in Ukraine, we had a translator the majority of the time but there were times when we would take breaks at the conference, and teachers would come up to me and would play me videos of their class singing or playing instruments to help learn things. Even if I couldn't speak the same language, I knew exactly what those videos meant and it gave us a powerful connection to each other.” 

After graduation, Payton hopes to continue to have a positive impact by teaching Theatre to middle school students.   


Payton is pictured with Dr. Ronda Scarrow, Dr. Karen Feathers and a graduate student, Sadie Hodges.  

Congratulations to Payton on her successful research!  

If you would like to have your research featured in a “Scholar Story”, or if you would like to learn more about getting involved in research at Longwood University, please visit Longwood’s Office of Student Research website 

or contact Amorette Barber, Director of the Office of Student Research ( or