Committed to a career in teaching, with her first year in the Teach for America program behind her, Allison DuVal, ’08, returned to campus to teach part of the Emerging Leaders program. This innovative project is from the Center for Leadership and Education--a partnership between The School of Continuing Studies and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.

Having only recently graduated from the University of Richmond, Allison DuVal, '08, will be the first to tell you she just can't seem to stay away. And, naturally enough, what brought this new teacher back to campus was teaching.

With her first year in the Teach for America program behind her, DuVal returned to her alma mater in summer, 2009, to teach a weeklong course as part of the Emerging Leaders program. This project of the Center for Leadership and Education is a partnership between The School of Continuing Studies and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies. Students in Hanover County Public Schools go through the program and are exposed to themes such as leadership and ethics through large group discussions and hands-on activities.

As a Jepson School graduate, Duval was very familar with the curriculum. She described the course as being a "very condensed version of the "Foundations of Leadership" course with a little bit of "Group Dynamics" and "Leadership Ethics" thrown in."

The program, which accommodates some 50 rising high school seniors, continues throughout the academic school year, during which the students will participate in a series of elective courses, field trips, speaker presentations and community projects. DuVal worked closely with Tom Shields, director of the University's Center for Leadership in Education, and fellow Jepson School graduate Eric Loepp, '08, the Center's program director.

DuVal majored in leadership studies with a minor in women, gender, and sexuality studies. As a student, she was a Bonner Scholar and Burrus Fellow, co-founded and served on the Collegiate Disaster Relief Team and was the recipient of the E. Bruce Heilman Leadership Award as well as the JSGA Servant Leader Award.

She heard about Teach for America during her first year at Richmond when she attended an information session. She was touched by the inequality of education in our country, and it wasn't until she entered her senior year that DuVal said she knew she would go into teaching. "At that point, I realized teaching would actually challenge me. I was ready to step up and make what difference I could in the lives of students in the community."

The fervor she feels for her involvement in Teach for America was made evident through further discussion. "It is unconscionable that children, who by no fault of their own, are living in low income communities and experience an educational system that is drastically different than more privileged students," DuVal explained. "I am choosing to put myself where my words are and make a difference right now, while also thinking about how I will remain involved in the conversation and activism surrounding the broader and more structural change."

By fall, DuVal was back to her assignment at the Title I elementary school in Durham, N.C., a federal designation that correlates to the number of students who qualify as low income, providing financial assistance to help to ensure that all children meet state academic standards.

Though she now has one year of experience, she knows the challenges she faces will not get any easier. "I'm committed to doing what it takes to ensure we prepare our students for a life in which they are able to make real choices, and that hinges upon their ability to read and write."

Posted: September, 2009S