After a year of interacting entirely online, the inaugural cohort of Mason’s Transformative Teaching master’s program recently spent a week learning together on the Fairfax campus. Except for a one-week summer session in the beginning and in the middle of the program, all coursework is fully online.

“These week-long, face-to-face sessions are so valuable,” explains cohort member Beth Hall, a teacher from Loudoun County. “They bridge the gap between online learning and classroom learning in a very effective way. I am really a fan of this hybrid learning model — we get the best of both worlds.”

Because of Mason’s strategic location and faculty connections with education policy leaders at both the state and national levels, these in-person sessions are particularly potent. After researching current education bills, the teachers spent part of their time together meeting with the legislative aide for Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and with representatives from their own districts.

teachers in the online Transformative Teaching master's program

This summer, teachers in the online Transformative Teaching master’s program met with
Congressional representatives to discuss education issues affecting their students.
Photo courtesy of College of Education and Human Development.

“I thought to myself, if I can go to a senator’s office to discuss my well-researched views on education policy, then certainly I can do the same on a local level to promote changes in my school, district, or maybe even state,” says cohort member Michael Suppa from D.C.

Led by the faculty team of Betsy DeMulder, Jenice View, and Stacia Stribling of Mason’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), this program aims to reframe teachers’ roles as teacher-leaders. Those in the program engage in research projects and develop a critical stance that will advance student outcomes, often leading to action back at their own schools.

transformative teaching students and faculty

Transformative teaching students Jean Peretzman (far left) and Anne Dawson (far right) presented at the Teach to Lead summit in D.C., joined by program faculty Drs. Betsy DeMulder (center left), Stacia Stribling (center right), and Jenice View (not pictured). Photo courtesy of CEHD.

“We hear the word ‘powerlessness’ a lot,” says Dr. DeMulder. “The reality is that many teachers see themselves as ‘only a teacher’ when in actuality, what we see are impressive, talented, dedicated, and experienced professionals. Our work together offers teachers an alternative narrative that values their potential to have a significant impact on students.”

In July, cohort members Anne Dawson of Richmond and Jean Peretzman from Fairfax presented a proposal to use equity audits in schools. Out of over 125 submissions, their proposal was one of only 28 selected for the Teach to Lead Summit in D.C., sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

“I realize now that I am a leader and I will be moving forward to take on more of a leadership role for this upcoming school year,” notes cohort member Shamika Carey from Richmond. “My first step will be the implementation of my program called ‘Reach for Success’ for at-risk sixth graders.”

Through this strong connection to their own circumstances and experiences, this online program encourages teachers to “get out there” in a meaningful way. Carey adds, “This Transformative Teaching program is definitely transforming me into the educator I knew I could be.”

Interested in learning more about the online Transformative Teaching master’s program? Visit our program profile!

This article originally appeared as “A Summer for Teacher Leaders” on the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) website.