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My life as an educator evolves every year. From the time I started my teaching career -- working in a special education pre-school --  to teaching first grade, to providing academic support to middle school students to, most recently, serving as the reading specialist to sixth through eighth graders, one of my main areas of focus and passion is differentiation through a workshop model. Creating an environment that provides appropriate accommodations and supports for students with diverse learning styles is central to my philosophy of teaching and education.

As I now begin my work at UVEI, I have that familiar “first day of school” feeling of nervous excitement and anticipation. I look forward to sharing my passion for the workshop model and supporting all learners at all levels of education. As this year goes along, I’ll be thinking about how my new role informs and expands my thinking about being an educator. I know that it will be exciting and challenging and inspiring because that’s what being an educator is all about.


Rebecca Wipfler, UVEI's Elementary Education Coordinator and Program Faculty is primarily responsibility for coordinating the pedagogical training of elementary education interns.  She comes to UVEI with nine years of teaching experience in elementary and middle schools and was, most recently,the Literacy Coordinator/Reading Specialist at Richmond Middle School in Hanover.  In addition to Becky's teaching responsibilities, she coached new and veteran teachers and facilitated a team of teachers interested in school-wide improvement.  Becky graduated from the State University of New York, College at Genesco and earned a Master of Education in Literacy from the State University of New York, Plattsburgh.  

After completing a UVEI Master Inquiry class, Becky wrote this piece about how the professional development experience influenced her ability aa a coach at Richmond Middle School in Hanover, NH.

Equity motivates my thinking, my practice, my ethics and my hope for education.  I believe that we can create schools where gender, race, perceived ability, motivation, intellect, religion, sexual identity and class only enhance equitable opportunities in our schools.  While this requires leaders, faculty members, parents and communities to engage in difficult professional dialogue, I believe the result would be an educational experience for all children that is fair and inclusive.  The growing importance of education equity is based on the premise that now, more than ever, an individual’s level of education is directly correlated to the quality of life he or she will live in the future. (1)  An equitable education provides the foundation for a fair and successful society.


 [1} "Ten Steps to Equity in Education" (PDF). Retrieved 4 April 2016.



Nan Parsons, EdD, is UVEI's Associate Director for School Leadership. She has been a school leader for more than 15 years, serving as principal of both Canaan Elementary School and Lebanon High School in the Upper Valley.  Nan currently serves on the school board of Grantham School District in Grantham, NH.  She has been appointed to the New Hampshire State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness Committee, the NH Department of Education's Ensuring Equitable Access to Excellent Educators Taskforce and its subcommittee on communications, along with the NH State Principal Evaluation Task Force.  She is the past president of the New Hampshire Association of School Principals, where she continues to serve as an active board member, leading the association’s Legislative Committee. Nan co-leads the New Hampshire Association of School Principals Mentor Program for newly appointed principals and serves as a mentor for New Hampshire principals. Nan served as the New Hampshire representative on the National Center for Innovation in Education Think Tank.  She earned a doctorate from Plymouth State University, a Master of Education from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from Plymouth State University.  Nan has New Hampshire educators licenses in a wide range of areas, including: Superintendent, Principal (K-12),


Nan’s practice interests include effective school leadership and management, competency based education, and equity oriented approaches to schools and student outcomes.  She is very motivated by how teachers learn, instructional coaching, teacher leadership, teacher professional community, effective teaching, instructional program coherence and school improvement.



  • Pembroke School District- SMART Goals: What do they mean for student and teacher learning?

  • Piermont School- The Ethics of Student Confidentiality

  • UNH- Competency Based Education: Overview and Action Steps

  • Pembroke Hill School- Norms of Collaboration: It's just the way we do business at PHS

  • Pembroke Hill School- Putting SLOs into Practice: More than just compliance

  • NHASP Annual Conference- Moving Toward Change: Collaboration, Collegial Effort and Coaching

  • NHASP- Training and Supporting New Hampshire's Mentors

  • Edward E. Fenn School- What Might the Multi Age Experience Look Like at EEFS?

When I was a middle school classroom teacher, I got to know my students well. I cared about them-- their academic performance, growth as social beings, hobbies outside of the classroom, their family life. Each day could bring laughter, challenge and unexpected insight. Additionally, I enjoyed working with the adults in the building. My colleagues and I couldn't stop talking about teaching-- in the hallways, lunch, on runs after school. So when I began work at UVEI, I knew I'd enjoy working with adults, but I wasn't expecting to feel the same level of fondness for adult learners as I felt for my students. They couldn't possibly be as much fun, as intriguing, as quirky as adolescents, right? 

I was wrong. 

I feel passionately that my job is to make people the best learners, the best educators, they can be. I have seen amazing growth in teacher interns over the course of a year that fuels this passion. People always ask me if I miss the classroom. Although I'm still in the "classroom," I know what they mean: Don't you miss working with kids? Yes. But also, no. I love working with people. I love working with learners of any age. I am a passionate educator, and my students still bring me laughter, challenge and unexpected insight every day. 


Kristen Downey, MEd, has been a middle school language arts teacher in the Upper Valley for twelve years. Several years after graduating from Colby College with a major in English and Creative Writing, she entered UVEI's Class of 2003 (known then as UVTI). She earned a masters degree through Plymouth State University where her action research focused on approaches to student discipline.  In addition to being a classroom teacher, Ms. Downey recently served as Richmond Middle School's Writing Coach, which included designing and implementing training for faculty, as well as facilitating school-wide writing assessments. Her internship with the Vermont Writing Collaborative allowed her to share her passion for and knowledge about helping students become effective writers. She has presented on a district-wide level on topics such as digital learning, argument writing and literacy.  She also serves on the Thetford, VT School Board.

You can follow her on Twitter @UVEIDowney


Kristen has designed and delivered UVEI graduate courses on topics including Instructional Coaching, Project Based Learning, Argument Writing, Differentiated Instruction and the Brain, and Formative Assessment. During her time as an English classroom teacher, she presented to faculty on topics such as the Young Writers Project, back-channels, iPad apps, vocabulary, and Understanding by Design. Her interests include local history, writing for understanding and poetry. 

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Attributed to Aristotle, this idiom also captures the power and potential of collaborative inquiry in education: a small group of teachers pooling their individual capacities to work with a shared purpose on complex problems. And it drives one of my passions as a teacher educator to provide the support and structure—and help teachers learn the skills—to engage in this powerful learning process. Collaborative inquiry involves teachers coming together to investigate their practice, critically examine student work, question how they engage students, and support one another in cycles of improvement toward ambitious teaching. It’s hard work. It takes time, knowledge, trust, commitment, shared vision, structure and support. The benefits, though, are immense and worthwhile: Through engagement in collective inquiry, teachers strengthen their practice, better understand student learning, and value and respect their colleagues. 

At UVEI, I am honored to work with and support teachers who are committed to improving their practice. And I am grateful to be in a position to help these teachers learn the concepts and routines that comprise a collective inquiry process and mindset:  to understand and use protocols for examining student work, develop facilitation skills to lead learning conversations, pay attention to student thinking, and  putting all these skills together in becoming teachers-as-practical-researchers. Furthermore, I am committed to helping UVEI grow into a hub of collaborative inquiry for teachers through our advanced teaching and leadership inquiry cycles and our professional education offerings.

Schools are professional workplaces and teaching is a social practice. It is imperative to help teachers collectively build their professional communities in order to support one another in pursuit of their ultimate professional goals of deep student learning and healthy child development.  


As the Graduate Studies Coordinator at the Upper Valley Graduate School of Education, Christopher Ward, PhD  is a member of the Program Faculties of the Masters Degree Programs as well as the Principal Intern Program and Teacher Intern Program . His work in all programs is focused on teaching candidates how to use and understand research to frame and take action on educational problems of practice.

Before coming to UVEI, he most recently served as Interim Director of Teacher Education in the Department of Education at Dartmouth College. He has also been a faculty member at the University of Washington and the University of Central Florida.

Chris is a member of the New Hampshire Council on Teacher Education and  of the New Hampshire Institutions of Higher Education Network, where he serves in a leadership role on the Teacher Common Assessment of Performance research and coordinating committee. He also serves on the Board of Changing Perspectives, a local disability awareness nonprofit. Chris received his PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Washington.  His article, Situating Motivation, written with colleagues from the University of Washington and Vanderbilt University and published in the journal, Educational Psychologist, won Division 15 of the American Psychological Association’s 2015 Best Article of the Year.


Chris’ research and practice interests include collaboration and collective inquiry, the relationship between motivation and engagement in learning, and novice teacher learning, motivation and identity development.



April 2016
American Educational Research Association, Washington DC
“A localized policy framework: A statewide collaboration toward teacher candidate performance assessment” 

April 2013
American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA
"Productive Friction: Conflict in Student Teaching Creating Opportunities for Learning"

April  2012
American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, BC, Canada
"Engagement in What? The Negotiation of Joint Enterprise in Project-Based Learning"

April 2011
American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA
"A Situative Account of Changes in Novice Teachers’ Thinking about Student Motivation"

May 2010
Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO
"Novice Teachers' Motivation to Learn and Employ Asessment Practices"

August 2008
4th Biannual European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction SIG 14: Learning and Professional Development Conference, Jyväskylä, Finland
"A Situative Approach to Identity Development and Motivation in Novice Teachers"

April 2008
Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY
"Trajectories of Participation, Goals, and Identity in Learning to Teach" 
"Identity Development, Motivation, and Learning in “Becoming” a Teacher: Findings and Theoretical Advances" 
"Becoming Teachers: A Situative Look at Identity, Motivation, and Learning"


Nolen, S. B., Horn, I. S. & Ward, C. J. (2015). Situating motivation. Educational Psychologist, 50, 234–247.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., & Horn, I. S. (2014). Changing practice(s): A situative account of teachers’ motivation to learn. In P. W. Richardson, S. A. Karabenick, & H. M. G. Watt (Eds.), Teacher motivation: Theory and practice (pp. 167–181). New York: Routledge.

Horn, I. S., Nolen, S. B., & Ward, C. J. (2013). Recontextualizing practices: Situative methods for studying the development of motivation, identity and learning in and through multiple contexts over time. In M. Vauras & S. Volet (Eds.), Interpersonal regulation of learning and motivation: Methodological advances (pp. 189–204). New York: Routledge.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., & Horn, I. S. (2012). Methods for taking a situative approach to studying the development of motivation, identity, and learning in multiple social contexts. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 27, 267–284.

Ward, C. J., Nolen, S, B., & Horn, I. S. (2011). Productive friction: How conflict in student teaching creates opportunities for learning at the boundary. International Journal of Educational Research, 50, 14–20.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., & Horn, I. S. (2011). Motivation, engagement, and identity: Opening a conversation. In D. M. McInerney, R. A. Walker, & G. A. D. Liem (Eds.), Sociocultural theories of learning and motivation: Looking back, looking forward (pp. 109–135). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Nolen, S. B., Horn, I. S., Ward, C. J., & Childers, S. (2011). Assessment tools as boundary objects in novice teachers’ learning. Cognition and Instruction, 29, 88–122.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., Horn, I. S., Childers, S., Campbell, S., & Mahna, K. (2009). Motivation in preservice teachers: The development of utility filters. In M. Wosnitza, S. A. Karabenick, A. Efklides, & P. Nenniger (Eds.), Contemporary motivation research: From global to local perspectives (pp. 265–278). Ashland, OH: Hogrefe & Huber.

Horn, I. S., Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., & Campbell, S. S. (2008). Developing practices in multiple worlds: The role of identity in learning to teach. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35, 61–72.

Nolen, S. B., & Ward, C. J. (2008). Sociocultural and situative approaches to studying motivation. In M. Maehr, S. Karabenick, & T. Urdan (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement: Social psychological perspectives (Vol. 15, pp. 425–460). London: Emerald Group.

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