Working at UVEI is Inspiring

Education is inspiring. There aren’t too many jobs out there that allow us to do intellectually stimulating work, impact young people (sometimes in life-changing ways) and make a decent living. Leadership in schools is even more impactful and inspiring. Leaders have the power to transform teacher-learning, and therefore student learning, affecting thousands of individuals across the lifespan of a career in school leadership.

Now imagine the impact of that work, teaching and leading, times ten. That’s what it’s like to work at UVEI.  

extension, we have an impact on hundreds of kids every year. Now that’s an inspiring and humbling statistic.

Working at UVEI is inspiring. We’re an organization focused on research-based innovation in education. Our programs are experiential, using competency-based assessments to help candidates become ready to teach and lead. Although this model is becoming less rare in the teacher-preparation world, we’re a unique and powerful model for graduate school education.

Graduate School Coordinator and Program Faculty, Chris Ward, heard about UVEI while he was working at Dartmouth. Since Chris’s experience at universities consisted of course-based, front-loaded content approaches to teaching, UVEI’s approach was “a really powerful model for teacher education,” that he hadn’t experienced before. “I wanted to be a part of that.”

But what makes the daily work we do at UVEI sustaining is the deep, meaningful collaborative work among faculty and staff. Unlike the school environment, in which educators move at a frenetic pace, we have time to think, talk, and reflect within the structure of our learning community. “The collaboration here is what I hoped for -- honest and open collaboration,” Chris attests. Nan Parsons, associate director for school leadership, agrees: “Our environment allows me to be part of a think tank, always striving to improve our own practice to support our candidates in their practices.”

On Fridays, when we have our collaborative meetings, we brainstorm, argue, laugh, share articles and research, and push each others’ thinking, striving for continuous improvement. Page Tompkins, our executive director, adds, “I appreciate the depth and quality of relationships I have with my colleagues. Beyond tasks, logistics, and getting things done, we care about each other. It really feels like we’re in this together, and we’re part of team.”

We won’t lie-- there are challenging aspects to this work. Since we’re small and personalized, we’re able to be more nimble than larger organizations and schools. But with that nimbleness comes lots of logistical hurdles. “Logistics take time,” Chris confirms. “And they’re not necessarily what I’m good at!” he laughed.

To inspire means to breathe life into, and as UVEI breathes life into teachers and leaders who want to transform their practice, UVEI and its participants breathe life into those of us who work here. We’re inspired to come to work every day and do challenging, amazing, maddening, and satisfying work.

Join us. We’re hiring!

Commentary by Kristen Downey

Kristen Downey is UVEI’s Associate Director for Teacher Education.  Her other blogs can be found at:

​You can follow Kristen on Twitter @UVEIDowney