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Alumni Success Stories

Jamie Sisson

Jamie SissonWhat year (years) did you graduate and which program(s) did you complete?
PhD in Curriculum and Instruction- 2011

Are you currently employed, and if so, where?
Yes, I am currently employed at the University of South Australia as a lecturer.

What were some of your biggest challenges after graduating that shaped your career?
After graduating from KSU one of the biggest challenges I faced was the decision to move with my young family for an academic position at the University of South Australia. I have always been interested in the early childhood research coming from Australia however; my husband and I were also interested in returning to our alma mater where I had also applied for an academic position. With the support of family, friends and my wonderful advisors at Kent State University we made the decision to move to Australia. This decision was not only based on the opportunities it provided for my career but also the opportunities it provided my husband and my two young children. It has been almost two years and we are very happy and enjoying our new life.

 Being that my first position as an academic was in a different country I not only faced the challenge of adjusting to my new role as an academic but also the challenges of understanding this role in a new culturally situated context with a different educational system. While the first two years have been challenging I am certainly thankful for the opportunities this experience has afforded me to learn and develop. One of the most significant strategies I have used to overcome these challenges has been to become involved in local professional groups and to establish relationships with area schools and preschools.  

What has been your most significant professional accomplishment since graduating?
My most significant professional accomplishment has been securing a grant and expanding my dissertation research in Australia. My dissertation was focused on understanding the professional identities of public preschool teachers. In securing a DRPF grant at UniSA I have been able to expand this work which now includes four researchers and expands across the preschool and Jr. primary school contexts. The use of narrative inquiry has been significant to this research and has contributed to the field by providing a space for the voices of preschool and Jr. primary teacher from the United States and Australia to be heard.

Alicia Weaver


What year (years) did you graduate and which program(s) did you complete?
I graduated in December 2008 and completed the Early Childhood Education program.

What were some of your biggest challenges after graduating that shaped your career?
I had a difficult time finding a position once I graduated. I subbed for a year, but I had a strong desire to have a classroom of my own. I decided to take a teaching job in Bush, Alaska. I live in a remote community where our biggest mode of transportation is a small plane. Pushing myself and trying something new has allowed me to teach here for the past two years. It truly has helped me both personally and professionally expand my teaching and try new things.

What has been your most significant professional accomplishment since graduating?
Currently, I am working towards my master’s degree in Special Education at the U
niversity of Alaska SouthEast. It is an online program, so I am able to take my classes at night. My biggest accomplishment has been getting to know the culture and community that I live in. One of the things I like about Alaska is that you never know what to expect. There are no shopping malls or restaurants. The closest village is a few miles away and to get there I must board aplane, snow machine, or boat. The culture is very interesting and I have learned about hunting and fishing. The community has been very inviting and welcoming. Since the community is remote, it is important to learn about the resources the land and community has to offer.

Are you currently employed, and if so, where?
I work in a Yupik village of 300 in rural Alaska. I am a 3rd and 4th grade teacher in the Lower Kuskokwim School District. I came across the job in Alaska through the Kent State Teacher Interview Day. I begin to find out information and become very interested in the position. I took the leap and decided come here to teach.

Heather Hutmacher


What year did you graduate and which program did you complete?
I graduated in December of 2010 and I received my bachelor's of science degree in early childhood education. 

Are you currently employed, and if so, where?

I am employed as a Year 1 primary school teacher at Gladstone Primary School in Auckland, New Zealand.

What were some of your biggest challenges after graduating that shaped your career?

Since graduating, I have found I have had many challenges in the world of education.  The first would be the lack of jobs available to teachers in the Midwest, which is one of the reasons I chose to relocate to New Zealand.  When I moved here over a year ago, there were a plethora of teaching positions available, so it was not very difficult to find a job. 

While teaching in a foreign country has been such an amazing experience, and I have no regrets deciding to move here, it creates another challenge of living away from my friends and family.  As much as I LOVE living in New Zealand, I find that I do really miss the comfort of home. Fortunately, I have found a solid personal support group, as well as within the teaching staff at Gladstone, but nothing can replace home.

Something else I find challenging is being able to accept that I will never finish everything I would like to finish in planning and organizing my classroom.  As a primary school teacher, there will ALWAYS be something that needs to be done.  Another teacher has taught me to divide my work into three categories, "Must get done," "Eventually needs to be done," and "It would be nice."  This way of organizing my many tasks has been a big part in helping me get through my first year of teaching.