Katie Adams, recipient of the Donald S. and MaryAnne Bruno Scholarship, the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Award plus the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Margaret, The Lady Thatcher Medallion. This award, presented at graduation, recognizes "Academic Excellence, Scholarship, Character, and Service."
Katie received her B.S. degree from William & Mary in 2008 and her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction in 2009. Katie wrote recently about her career:
Call me crazy, but what gets me up each morning is a desire to help kids others might give up on: kids with deep emotional problems, many who worry how they will get their next meal or whether their parent will come home that night. Some talk back to me, others may want to punch me. I teach fifth-and sixth-grade students with emotional disabilities in a Washington, D.C., public school. Last year, I taught a self-contained classroom of K–2 children with autism in a school near Richmond, Virginia.
As a second-year teacher, I can say with nearly complete certainty that I would not have been prepared to make a vital difference in these children's lives if it were not for the William & Mary School of Education.
Through the School's talented faculty, dedicated supporters, and outstanding curriculum, I obtained both my undergraduate and master's degrees — and, as a result, am better prepared than many young teachers in the myriad challenges and opportunities that I encounter.
Having taught full time now for a year and a half, I am increasingly convinced that effective teachers who employ sound, research-based curricula are vital for helping children to learn and discover their interests and talents. And this is where William & Mary truly excels — training effective teachers who are knowledgeable in the latest research-based educational practices for learners that walk into any K–12 school in the country.
One feature that really sets William & Mary's School of Education apart is the richness of material to which students are exposed, all under the guidance of highly qualified clinical faculty and professors who work collaboratively. The breadth of material in the curriculum is also impressive. For my master's degree, I followed a comprehensive curriculum for K–12 special education.
My particular course of study, combined with my student teaching experience, prepared me to teach students qualifying under any of the 13 categories of special education need — not just the category (autism) that I was initially interested in pursuing. Because of the depth of my experience, I have greater flexibility as a teacher and in my career options.
In addition, while at William & Mary, I was able to participate in all types of school meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and professional symposia at local schools. This exposure has helped me more easily navigate the professional aspects of my first two teaching positions.
In fact, during my first year of teaching, I developed a template for parent involvement in Individual Education Program (IEP) meetings (held according to federal law for children with disabilities) — a template that was adopted by other special education programs at my school. In talking with others in my district, I found that other young teachers had not had the same independent experiences as I had been given at William & Mary to conduct my own meetings and create my own curricula.
In addition to being able to work and plan independently, one of the most comforting things as a young teacher is to know that I not only have a support group of professionals within the walls of my own school, but I also have supportive former professors, advisors, and clinical faculty at William & Mary who contribute to my daily decisions in the classroom. I can still easily pick up the phone or send one of them an e-mail and know that each of them will care to help me work through a question or dilemma that I have.
Katie Adams '08, M.A.Ed. '09