From Theory to Practice
Bradshaw says she appreciated being able to bounce ideas off of her classmates during her first years of teaching.
As a pre-law undergrad at Smith College, Janelle Bradshaw was pretty certain of her future — law school and then a professional career as an attorney. But an academic minor in education and a student teaching assignment her senior year changed all that. "I really loved and valued that experience," she says. After graduation, Bradshaw pursued a teaching position in Boston and was hired as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, the oldest elementary school in the country.
"Baptism by fire" is how Bradshaw describes her first few months on the job. "I had received good, basic instruction in education, but truthfully, I wasn't fully prepared to handle the job and the issues surrounding urban education. I had ideas, but didn't have the practical solutions to problem solve."
Bradshaw's solution came in applying to Simmons's Urban Education program the following spring. "The program's mission is to prepare teachers to teach in an urban environment. Its dual focus on teaching theory and practical application of issues found in complex urban educational settings was exactly what I needed. Every weekend class I attended provided material and knowledge that I could immediately apply in the classroom on Monday."
An added bonus for Bradshaw was the camaraderie she experienced with other classmates in the program. "The environment was very encouraging and supportive. Having the opportunity to bounce ideas off of my classmates was very helpful, especially during those first difficult years in my teaching career."
Bradshaw completed the program in 2003 and is now pursuing a second master's degree from Simmons, this time in Educational Leadership. "One of my professors, Roberta Kelly, strongly encouraged me to apply. Through this program, I am examining my leadership style, how I communicate, and how others perceive me. My career goals now include obtaining an administrative position in an urban district. I love what I do and I am committed to working with urban children."