Katie Leigh smiling with a photo background of the Breneman Courtyard.

Class of 2023: Katie Leigh

Originally from Kewaskum, WI, Katie Leigh is set to become a Double Hoo by earning her Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction this spring.

Audrey Breen

After earning her M.Ed. at the UVA School of Education and Human Development, Katie Leigh returned to pursue her doctorate. While here, she took on a leading role in one of the school’s most innovative initiatives: The Simulation Lab. As director of the SimLab, Katie oversaw the school’s use of the computer-based simulator designed to provide hours of meaningful practice for UVA students training to become teachers, education leaders, mentors and more.

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

This is my second round at the School of Education and Human Development. In 2013, I chose to pursue an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and ever since then, I've stayed in contact with Professor Catherine Brighton about when I was going to come back to get my Ed.D. The stars aligned and I left my full-time teaching position in 2019 to pursue an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. 

Q. What are some of the ways you were involved at UVA EHD during your program, including your work with the SimLab?

I started working for the SimLab as a graduate student during my second year and then became the director two years ago. The majority of my time has been spent with the SimLab, supporting instructors' and students' research projects, helping create simulation scenarios, and working with other universities. I was also a part of Ed Council for several years and supported a variety of student-centered projects. In addition, I co-led a group that helped EHD students understand the role of racism in education and the impact of whiteness. Over the course of two years, the group read several books and helped participants understand their role in dismantling systems of oppression. There have been and continue to be groups across EHD that support similar efforts.

Q. What is the most significant thing that has shaped your time while you’ve been here? 

I have been given the opportunity to work with incredible EHD students. During the first year of my Ed.D. program, I supported Associate Professor Stanley Trent's Teaching as a Profession course. During that time, I worked with first-year students who were considering becoming teachers, and it solidified my desire to work with preservice teachers. I've since taught several teacher preparation courses and am honored to be a part of so many students' journeys to becoming elementary educators.

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

This was the first time I had ever been in a position where it was essential to my academic success to be in a community of learners. With other educational experiences that I had, I felt as though I could get by more independently. However, during the Ed.D. program, I quickly learned how important it was to have a strong community of people who understand what you're going through and how to support one another. I wouldn't be where I am without my incredible cohort.

Q. What will you be doing next? 

Starting in June, I will be the Undergraduate Degree Director for EHD Teacher Education. In this role, I will join the teacher education team, partnering with the program coordinators to oversee undergraduate teacher education programs and support our preservice teachers. I am excited to continue teaching several teacher preparation courses and to begin advising current B.S.Ed. students, collaborating with instructors, and recruiting prospective students. I am incredibly grateful that I will continue to support preservice teachers in this new role.

Class of 2023 Graduation Profiles

We invite you to get to know a few members of the UVA EHD Class of 2023 as we celebrate the accomplishments of the entire class.

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