Student Testimonials

Ph.D. Students

Ed.D. Students

Melanie M. Acosta, Ph.D.

AcostaAs a former classroom teacher I was seeking a Ph.D program that could offer me the opportunity to examine critical instructional issues within the context of a dynamic sociocultural context for the purpose of improving the social and material conditions of local communities. The Ph.D program in Teachers, Schools, and Society at the University of Florida enabled me to elevate my commitment and activism to the cause of equity and excellence in education by providing the supportive independence I needed to emerge as an engaged scholar.

I worked closely with an exceptional cadre of scholars who served as my advisors, professors, and collaborators. These skilled intellectuals encouraged me to construct my own vision of academic scholarship and forge my own intellectual path in ways intimately tailored to my interests, perspectives and developing trajectory. This path included experiences researching, publishing, presenting, and teaching university students, as well as in developing online and face-to-face coursework and professional development, and in supervising preservice teachers. I now realize that the supportive independence I received during my doctoral study in the TSS program at UF was an advantage unique to this program and created a doctoral study context that was rigorous, relevant, and authentic.   This is one of the most distinguishable factors in my doctoral experience in TSS that I attribute to the confidence I have in my ability to contribute to community uplift and social justice.

Kathy Christensen, Ed.D.

The professional practice doctorate program afforded me the opportunity to work with colleagues as a community of practitioners who were like-minded in their desire to address educational problems of practice within their contexts. We built  pedagogical expertise as we grew in theoretical and research knowledge, always supporting one another as critical friends and colleagues. The blended program, with online and face to face interactions, allowed us to bond as a cohort as we each grew personally and professionally. I appreciate how thoughtfully designed the program was with regard to helping us grow in theoretical, pedagogical and research knowledge while fostering inquiry learning connected to our daily work. The faculty was exemplary in their teaching, mentoring, and support. I am proud I earned my doctorate degree from such an esteemed institution as the University of Florida. Go Gators!

Selçuk Doğan, Ph.D. student

Selcuk-DoganI am currently a second-year Ph.D. student in Teachers, Schools, and Society, with a minor in Research, Evaluation, and Measurement. Through my program I have acquired various research skills, knowledge, and different perspectives that are essential to have in today’s reform-oriented school systems. I believe that by the end of my program, I will have the ability to present myself as a scientist, researcher, and trained professional. I’ve had the chance to meet other graduate students as well as other young professionals who live around Florida to collaborate and discuss potential research. We also have the opportunity to attend professional development from the Lastinger Center for Learning to improve our skills in implementing professional development throughout Florida. Our graduate student alliance provides informative seminars around teaching, research, and service and other essential skills for future professors in order to broaden our horizons.

The Ph.D. program offered at the College of Education has given me the opportunity to reach my significant goals; a quality and diverse education, a wonderful learning community, and also to develop as a researcher and scholar.

Mary Conage, Ed.D.

ConageAs a doctoral student in the Teachers, Schools, and Society (TSS) program at the University of Florida, I experienced the power of what happens at the intentional intersection of theory and practice. Throughout the program of study, my daily work as an educational practitioner brought relevance to readings, discussions, and other assignments. Likewise, the knowledge I acquired through my program of study informed my daily work in a dynamic, reciprocal way. The faculty masterfully created conditions for me to define and refine the focus of my interest in research on culturally responsive instruction. At times, they provided resources and information to create a solid, theoretical base that was grounded in existing literature. At other times, they posed rich questions to guide me toward fruitful paths of personal inquiry. My learning was never in isolation. Rather, it was within a community of others who—like me—were wrestling through the process of being liberated from unchallenged attitudes and assumptions which, left uncovered, would have kept us tethered to the status quo in our individual work contexts. As members of the TSS cohort, we sharpened and shaped each other while becoming more knowledgeable, insightful, reflective, and responsive educators. As graduates of the program, we remain connected as a community of practitioner scholars.

Elyse Hambacher, Ph.D.

HambacherChoosing a Ph.D. program is no easy decision. As an undergrad at the University of Florida, I represented the College of Education as a University Scholar, which is what first led me to become curious about educational research. In this role, I worked closely with professors in the School of Teaching and Learning who mentored me throughout the research process. My longstanding relationship with these professors made me confident that I would be in good hands as a doctoral student in the Teachers, Schools, and Society Program in Curriculum and Instruction at UF.

The TSS program prepared me to become a well-rounded scholar through rigorous coursework and a path of scholarly pursuits that helped to define my research interests. Specifically, the program provided me with opportunities to coach preservice teachers and develop partnerships with local elementary schools. I was also able to work collaboratively with colleagues in developing and teaching online and face-to face courses. I helped to design, implement, write about, and report on research. I believe this program has prepared me for life in academia, pushed me to think in ways I had never considered, and furthered my commitment to social justice in education.

Ann Harding, MME
Middle School Vocal Performing Arts
P.K. Yonge DRS

The format of this program fosters growth and allows for you to learn in the context of your own practice, helping you define your passions and identify your circle of influence. The online classes are perfectly crafted to facilitate all kinds of learners and to encourage reflection and growth. From the very beginning you can see why they are ranked #1 in online learning. The connections I have with my cohort and faculty are some of the most influential, personally and professionally.

Amy Murphy, Ph.D.

Amy 8-11After ten years of teaching at the middle school level, I entered the TSS program at UF to become a teacher educator and scholar. My program of study started with courses such as Teacher Learning and Teacher Socialization in High Poverty Schools, Critical Pedagogy, and Professional Development and Teacher Learning, which provided a solid foundation for my work as a teacher educator working for social justice.

Eager to put ideas from coursework to practice, I am fortunate to have spent the last two years of my doctoral studies in a university-school partnership initiated by my advisor, Dr. Kennedy-Lewis. Working with educators at a local middle school provided an authentic opportunity to remain engaged with the complex realities of today’s schools. This invaluable experience also positioned me very well for my upcoming position as a clinical assistant professor in the University of Georgia’s Middle Grades program where I will partner with a professional development school.

When I started the program I was a bit nervous because I had little research experience. Through the mentorship of TSS faculty, however, I participated in a variety of research experiences, from assisting with data collection and analysis to eventually designing and coauthoring papers with faculty. I am graduating from the program confident that I am well prepared for research, teaching, and service as a faculty member.

Mike Wisniewski
Classroom Teacher
Beltsville, MD

The TSS program integrates several issues in education through a rigorous and practical lens. The program has a real and influential effect on my own context as both a teacher and leader within my school. The online aspect of the program is better than any I have taken previously. By being online, I can directly and immediately implement the concepts from the TSS program into my own school. Both the cohort model of the program and the instructors within the program create an intimate atmosphere, allowing everyone in the program to support one another and grow as educators. I am extremely satisfied with this program.

Rachel Wolkenhauer, Ph.D.

Rachel-WolkenhauerWhen making the decision to pursue a Ph.D. I chose to study at the University of Florida in the Teachers, Schools, and Society program because of the expertise of the professors I would have the opportunity to work with. TSS professors are experts in their fields of study, but also take pride in excelling in the mentorship and teaching of future teacher educators. As a Ph.D. student in TSS, I worked elbow to elbow with my professors, other doctoral students, and local K-12 educators to engage in rigorous academic study that was always purposeful and relevant, as we worked to make a positive and immediate impact on the field of education at local, state, national, and international levels. My Ph.D. program prepared me to begin an academic career with a well-rounded vitae and a deep sense of purpose for working with and for teachers. I had robust experiences researching, publishing, presenting, and teaching university students, as well as in partnering with school districts, developing online and face-to-face coursework and professional development, and in supervising preservice teachers. It is because of this program that I believe I can make a contribution to the field of education. It is because of TSS that I love what I do.

Amy Wagner
Vice Principal for Academics at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame
Miami, FL

Amy WagnerThe online structure has really worked for me as a learner in ways I was not expecting.  Throughout my education I have not been someone who is overly vocal in my classes, but this program allows me to engage deeply and meaningfully with my classmates through written dialogue that really pushes my thinking.  I’ve also learned about different kinds of technology that allow for long distance collaboration with my classmates- across the nation and across the globe!

Jen Miller

This program has provided a supportive and nonjudgmental environment for me to challenge my preexisting ideas and grow as an educator.  The online and on campus aspects of the program invigorate me professionally and allow me to create lasting bonds between my fellow cohort members and professors.