Pace Profile: Dr. Laurie McMillan

Profile by Jenna Scaglione

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Dr. Laurie McMillan

Education & Career Path
After graduating from Brandeis University with a major in psychology and elementary education certification, Dr. Laurie McMillan began teaching. Even though she loved teaching at the elementary level, she felt she needed a change.

Dr. McMillan is passionate about reading and writing, which encouraged her to further her education. She decided to continue her education at Duquesne University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English Literature. Dr. McMillan then started teaching at the college level because it gave her the opportunity to teach writing and literary studies while also spending time doing her own research.

Dr. McMillan joined Pace’s Department of English and Modern Language Studies in September 2016. She appreciates the strong department community and enjoys the creative writing presence found at Pace.

Teaching Goals

Dr. McMillan is very dedicated to helping students become better writers, which is currently what she is working on at Pace University. She says that her greatest accomplishment is helping her students achieve their goals and improve.

Dr. McMillan is currently exploring possibilities for adding a writing major to the offerings on Pace’s Pleasantville campus. The Department of English and Modern Language Studies already offers a creative writing minor and a writing track within the English major, so Dr. McMillan believes a full writing major seems like the next step and says it would appeal to a wide range of students.

Spare Time

Dr. McMillan loves reading and writing. One of the books she recommends is Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Dr. McMillan enjoys many forms of writing. She is especially enthusiastic about multimedia writing digitally online such as blogging and creating Youtube videos.

Dr. McMillan also enjoys activities around the house such as fixing up old furniture,  painting, and gardening.

Advice

Dr. McMillan believes college students should follow their passion in life and not be afraid to pursue their dreams. She also stresses the significance in having a backup plan. Life is full of surprises, so it’s helpful if you’re ready to adapt.

Faculty Profile: Dr.Francine Falk-Ross

Profile by Amy Venusio (’19)

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Dr. Francine Falk-Ross

Who is Dr.Falk-Ross?

Dr. Falk-Ross is a literacy specialist who fell in love with being a speech therapist. She preferred to work in the education setting and got a full time job with speech and language for 8 years. Most of the work she was doing was literacy: helping with the language, how to read, the language when reading books, and how to write.

After getting her Master’s she decided that she wanted to know and do more. She then went to get her doctorate in curriculum with a concentration of reading. In 2008 she came to Pace and became a full-time professor. She is in charge of the literacy specialist graduate program.

Who influenced her?

Dr.Falk-Ross was influenced by her graduate teacher, Christine Pappas, who was in the doctoral program. Dr. Pappas drove Dr. Falk-Ross to understand classroom discourse. She learned the way you ask questions is very important to how students respond. Dr. Pappas showed Dr. Falk-Ross how to write and more of what she knows today.

Career highlights?

Instead of having students get pulled out of the classroom to support their literacy needs, Dr. Falk-Ross wanted all students in the class. Even students with different backgrounds and especially second language students belong in the same classroom.

Dr. Falk-Ross wrote a book called Classroom-Based Language and Literacy Intervention: A Programs and Case Studies Approach. She also worked as a research professor in Illinois and was an assistant professor in Northern Illinois.  

Advice she has for future teachers?

Dr. Falk-Ross says to find something that you really like to do, and find a focus within that field.

For future educators, she said that when you’re in a regular classroom to keep a focus because the school may need your perspective and expertise to do programs. She also recommends getting your graduate degree: “You learn a lot more in grad school than undergrad.” From there you will be able to understand more and move forward successfully. 

 

 

 

Alum Profile: LeeAnn Reynolds (’16)

Profile by Jessica D’Angelo

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LeeAnn Reynolds (’16)

LeeAnn Reynolds is a Pace University alumna who graduated in December of 2016. She earned her degree in English with a minor in Creative Writing. While attending Pace, she was an animal caretaker at Pace’s Nature Center. This allowed her to take care of animals, create informational packets, and give tours. She currently has a job as a personal assistant and is writing a novel.

Life at Pace

While at Pace, LeeAnn was influenced by several professors—Dr. Poe, Dr. Collins, Dr. Kirschtein, and Dr. Martin were just a few. She strongly believes that the English department was a positive influence in her experience at Pace. She said,

“I think the English department at Pace is really unique, because you get the sense that the whole department cares about you and wants to help you.”

When she started at Pace she was originally an Education major. She wanted to double major but then eventually dropped Education entirely when she decided that being an English major would give her more job opportunities. She did have some discouragement from others about her choice in major at first. People told her that there were no jobs for English majors, but she feels differently:

“I feel that being an English major has really helped to give me a diverse set of skills that I can apply to a wide variety of jobs.”

Role of Reading and Writing

Currently LeeAnn has a job as a personal assistant, which consists of many different things. She never really considered becoming one, but she saw a job opening, and she decided to apply. She saw that it would be a great job that included writing, learning  more about businesses, and cooking and cleaning. There were over 75 applicants, and she was chosen for the position. Her job consists of context writing, website maintenance, childcare, cleaning, and errand-running.

Her job consists of writing in financial language which is not easy for her, so she has to do a lot of research beforehand.  However, LeeAnn explains, “Because I was an English major, I’m able to pick apart things and understand them relatively quickly.” She writes two articles a week, so reading and writing play an important role in her career.

Her favorite things to read and write about are Young Adult literature, especially fantasy. Some of her recommendations would have to be Tithe by Holly Black, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, and Howl’s Moving Castle by Wynne Jones. She also insists that the Harry Potter series is a must!

Accomplishments

While at Pace LeeAnn says her most memorable moment was her thesis reading. She had to write and edit a novel, so it was very personal to her. Currently, LeeAnn is in the progress of writing a book. She has been working very hard on it, and she even said, “It seems like the editing will never end!” She is about 86,000 words in, and she is very proud of her work.

 

 

Alum Profile: Ashley Linda

Profile by Jackie Coughlin

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A Courageous Move

Ashley Linda originally graduated with a BA in Communications with an Advertising concentration and an English Writing minor from Marist College in 2009. She began her education at Pace University when she ended her career at NBC in the Integrated Marketing Company. She became inspired, excited, and eager to seek out different ways to use her brain. She made phone calls to explore different graduate programs, later connecting with the superintendent of her high school. After convincing her to choose Pace, Ashley quit her job in the city and enrolled in the program in Pleasantville. Today, Ashley is a Pace School of Education alumna and current English teacher.

New Directions

Pace’s program helped shape Ashley’s teaching philosophy. Dr. Joan Walker, Beth Kava, Mary Horgan, and Dr. Christine Clayton were women who helped to shape how she thought about the profession as a whole. Having a strong teaching philosophy and a deep rooted passion for the aspects of her job that she loved allowed her to stand up for what she believes in. Ashley became confident and passionate about working towards a common goal with colleagues, especially against tough obstacles.

An Influential Career

At the end of Ashley’s first year teaching at her current school, she was approached by two students who asked if she’d help them start a Women Empowered club at the high school: “Just the fact that they thought of me was an honor, but since then we have worked for three years and have turned the club into the most attended club at the high school.” They discuss issues of equality, welcome guest speakers, and write letters to representatives in government. Ashley has witnessed these young men and women grow and become leaders in the school. She has seen them face the backlash and bullying that comes with this responsibility and supported their efforts. She conveys that it’s been a fulfilling challenge.

“I truly believe that empathy and social justice are two things that we need in society. And nothing teaches you to be empathetic more than reading; you are literally walking in someone else’s shoes. And learning to communicate your thoughts and ideas is a power that no one can take away from you. And you can stand up for others using your voice.”

Inspiring Faces

Other than her professors, Ashley is inspired by her boyfriend: a Pace graduate and teacher for AP and Regents US History. He supports her drive in being the best educator she can be. She additionally admires the work of her Department Chair, a teacher involved at all levels of the school, and a natural leader.

Learning Inside and Outside of the Field

Ashley’s work in literacy, research, and writing changes every year based on personal learning goals and initiatives within her school. This year, she worked with her Department Chair to incorporate an Independent Reading program into curricula based on research conducted last year, mainly by Penny Kittle (Readicide) and Chris Tovani (Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?).

At the end of every year, she finds herself reflecting on ways she can improve the program for the following year. Sometimes it’s a conversation for the department; other times it’s more personal.

Ashley emphasizes her first job as a lesson for the importance of life balance. She loves getting outside, exploring, and taking her dog Penny for hikes and long walks. She advocates for exercise and visiting the gym as ways to clear the mind.

Ashley loves to read, particularly about strong women and what it means to be a woman today. She claims to be a sucker for anything 1920’s and highly recommends Live By Night by Dennis Lehane. Ashley is also currently involved volunteering with the Peekskill Democrats.

Advice for English Majors:
“An audience is always warming but it must never be necessary to your work.” —Gertrude Stein