Class of 2022: Maryam Bailey

“Choosing a career in education meant that I could change the narrative for BIPOC learners and provide them with a role model and mentor with whom they could connect.” Maryam is from Raleigh, N.C., and is graduating with her M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction.

What inspired you to choose a career in education? 

It’s always been a passion of mine to help people, especially learners, realize their full potential. Growing up, I was fortunate to have amazing teachers from elementary school all the way up to the university level, and my schooling was filled with positive experiences. However, as an African American, I seldom had teachers that I could identify with on a cultural level. Choosing a career in education meant that I could change the narrative for BIPOC learners and provide them with a role model and mentor with whom they could connect.  

 Why did you choose the UVA School of Education and Human Development for your program of study? 

I searched long and hard for a school that would meet my academic and professional needs. When I researched UVA’s School of Education and Human Development, it stood out from all the other universities. I was most impressed by the variety, flexibility, and robustness of the programs offered. As a mom and full-time employee, I needed a program that would allow me to maintain a healthy work-life balance, so the M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction, which was offered asynchronously, was the perfect fit for me.  

 What is the most significant thing that has shaped your time here? 

The courses and the instructors have been phenomenal. Every course was applicable to what I was doing in the classroom on a day-to-day basis. I had endless opportunities to connect theory with practice, which was an important part of my professional development. The instructors were knowledgeable, approachable, and understanding. It was an amazing experience from start to finish. 

What is one thing you learned during your studies that surprised you most? 

What surprised me most was how many times I would begin a course with preconceived notions and by the time the course ended, I had a totally different perspective. For example, the course on foundations of reading completely changed what I thought I knew about the most effective ways to teach reading and how a child learns to read. 

If you can, name one person who has made a special impact during your studies and how? 

Someone who’s made a special impact during my studies is Dr. April Salerno, my advisor and one of my instructors. From the first email I sent to her inquiring about the program, she has been my go-to person for just about everything. She helped me choose a clear program path; she checked in with me each semester to see how I was doing; she offered advice when I needed it; and she connected me with other instructors and advisors if I had a question that she didn’t have the answer to. She really guided me through the program from start to finish.  

What will you be doing next? 

My goal is to transition out of classroom teaching and into curriculum development. Since I began my career in education, I’ve always wanted to be a part of the creation and improvement of curricula. The behind-the-scenes work, so to speak, is some of the most important and impactful work in education, and I’d love to be a part of it. 


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  • Curriculum, Instruction & Special Education