Jeannie Pfautz M.Ed.’09, alumna of our Reading, Literacy, & Learning (RLL) 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, where she discovered she didn’t know enough about teaching students how to read.
Pfautz started her first job in 2006 teaching ninth-grade English at Powhatan High School in Richmond, Virginia. At the same time, she started her first graduate class, “Reading in the Content Area”, at Longwood University.
Pfautz explains that it was during her first semester in the RLL program when she developed strong analytical skills, analyzing English literature, and how to help students, “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” she says.
The class “Reading in the Content Area” was the opportunity she needed to learn techniques to help support her students, “I remember using nearly everything I learned in that course immediately in my English classes.”
Pfautz says that the program was perfect for working teachers. She was able to pursue her masters, and receive the theoretical knowledge she needed, “I can’t imagine having gotten my masters without teaching or teaching without getting my masters. It worked so well together,” she said.
After graduation, she headed to the Philippines for two more years with the Peace Corps.
In the Philippines, she worked at the high school with a co-teacher, Thelma Presbitero, and started a reading intervention program and a reading center that is operational today.
Pfautz recently completed an 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 toward my Ed.D. coursework.”
Pfautz says what she loves most about her job as a reading teacher 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.
Kim Jacobs ‘93 recently returned to Longwood to add a Reading, Literacy, and Learning endorsement from the M.Ed. program.
“I chose the Reading, Literacy, and Learning program at Longwood because I received my undergraduate degree from there. When I heard about the cohort they had starting in Bedford, I just knew that I wanted to be there as a part of that,” Jacobs said.
The Reading, Literacy and Learning program provides teachers the opportunity to investigate research-based theories in reading and writing, put theory into effective practice, and examine how culture impacts teaching and learning.
With 20 years of experience working in special education, Jacobs passion is to provide struggling students with better and accessible resources and instruction. Jacobs believes that what she learned in the Reading, Literacy and Learning (RLL) program allowed her to do that,
“I applied what I learned in graduate school at my job today, every day. I still have my notebook and refer to it daily. All of the little tricks and trades that they gave us are so applicable,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs says professors know that many of their graduate students are full-time teachers, with responsibilities. Their one-on-one attention, deep knowledge, and extensive experience is why she was successful. “I was working full-time while attending the program and I found it to be very doable with very easy access,”Jacobs says.
RLL Program Director, Dr. Ang Blanchette says, “RLL is extremely proud of the educator profile Kim represents; who could argue with the power-house combination of special education and literacy expertise? As an experienced special education teacher, Kim enriched classes with her ability to speak to authentic scenarios and passion for the area of learning that she knew was most critical for her students: proficiency in reading and writing. She is truly an example of someone doing the right work for the right reasons, and RLL could not be more honored to have someone like Kim representing the legacy of top-notch educators from Longwood."
Jacobs says she knows attending Longwood again, and earning the RLL endorsement has helped her students, “It’s allowed my students to feel better about themselves.”
Hear from Kim Jacobs in her graduate spotlight video.