By Chase Rossman, ’17

Amanda Kehoe, GC’17, is a fifth grade teacher at Greenfield Elementary School in Chesterfield County. She is currently pursuing an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction through the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. With support from her family and friends, Amanda looks to expand her opportunities with an SPCS education while continuing to teach. Here’s her story.

Why did you return to school to earn your M.Ed.?

I wanted to expand career possibilities for myself and stay in tune with current trends in education. While I love being a classroom teacher, I am interested in seeking opportunities to either work more closely with student teachers in a supervisory role or perhaps exploring professional development opportunities where I would lead workshops or guide teachers with new practices and strategies.

Why did you select UR for your M.Ed.?

The Curriculum and Instruction coursework seemed to be the right fit for me and I had heard about how supportive the faculty is. I enjoy working with curriculum and learning new and different ways to improve my craft. I love being a teacher leader and the course descriptions seemed to be engaging. I was looking to find a place where I would be surrounded by others who share my passion for teaching holistically.

What’s been the biggest challenge of returning to school?

Managing my time between my full time teaching position and my family. I have 3 school age children.

How difficult is it to manage your time like that?

Sometimes the time management is stressful. My calendar can be intimidating, but I have a wonderful husband who has been a huge support for me while I am taking classes. I have also been fortunate to rely on family members, friends, and colleagues who have helped me to make sure I can do my coursework and my children can be involved in their activities.

My 14 year old twins (son and daughter) and a 7 year old daughter have been great cheerleaders for me. When I have to do homework or meet with a classmate or miss one of their events because I have class they support me and encourage me. When I feel stressed or worried they say “You can do it, mom!” One of the reasons I chose to return to school was to model for them how anyone can return to school at any age. I wanted to show them the importance of being a lifelong learner. I wanted to show them that when you want something, you set goals, seek support, and persevere.

What strategies have you used to manage your time effectively?

Sometimes I need to be in two places at once and that can be tricky. I have been known to study and do assignments creatively. I have had professors who understand the life of a working mom who is also a full time student and I have greatly appreciated that. The tips I have for others is to plan carefully for time to work on assignments outside of class. Don't be afraid to say no when you normally say yes and don't be afraid to approach any of the SPCS staff about challenges you are facing.

What’s been the biggest reward of returning to school?

I love the interactions I have had with other educators and I am so happy with how supportive the professors are. I also feel like I can contribute so much to class discussions and my thoughts and ideas are valued. I feel renewed and recharged in my career.

If a colleague asked you about returning to school, what advice would you give them?

Take it one step at a time and know that even when you feel overwhelmed you can do it, especially at UR because all of the professors want to help you succeed.

Do you have any specific positive interactions with professors that have stuck in your memory?

I have really appreciated all of the professors that I have had. My very first class was with Dr. David Smith. He was so warm and easy to talk to. I feel like he shared my love for building relationships with students and I appreciated that he saw me — beyond the fact that I was a student in his class. Dr. Kate Cassada was also remarkable! She helped me recognize some talents in myself that I had been blind to and she has given me ideas for where I may want to move in my career. Kate is so incredibly personable and willing to help! She keeps in touch with me and keeps me updated on potential opportunities.

Lastly, Dr. Laura Kassner had such a way of helping me make connections with research and put me at ease when my stress levels would go up. She has a way of making you feel like you can do anything and that you are the most important person in the room. Laura is easy to approach and excited about helping you reach goals or seek new opportunities. Both Kate and Laura valued the experiences I shared in class. They both listened to my views and valued what I had to say. They respected my experience in the classroom and my thoughts about students today and teachers today. Even though they have far more education than me I feel like they made me see myself the way others see me... a strong, powerful educational role model.