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Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction graduate students honored by their schools

ISSUED: 24 February 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Two public school teachers in Shepherd University’s Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction (MACI) program have been honored as Teacher of the Year by their respective schools. Paige Palmer of Ranson is a fifth-grade teacher at C. W. Shipley Elementary in Harpers Ferry, and Caitlin Christian of Winchester, Virginia, is a second-grade teacher at Gainesboro Elementary in Frederick County, Virginia.

Palmer earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Shepherd is currently working toward her Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction. She said her experiences at Shepherd with campus organizations such as Ram Band, Relay for Life, and Kappa Delta Pi, as well as the courses she’s taken, have impacted how she represents herself as a leader and teacher.

“By working toward a degree in curriculum and instruction, I am increasing my content knowledge,” Palmer said. “This allows me to dive deeply into my current curriculum and analyze it to better meet the diverse needs of my students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Palmer employs a variety of strategies to engage students in reading, math, science, and social studies, including comfortable and flexible seating options to ensure her students are learning in their best environment. Palmer incorporates songs, dance, and videos utilizing the Universal Design for Learning to ensure that all students are receiving multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression. In addition, she served Jefferson County Public Schools during the COVID-19 spring extended closure by creating lessons for the county’s teachers to implement during the pandemic.

Christian also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Shepherd and is in her third year of teaching at Gainesboro.

“I was incredibly honored to be named my school’s Teacher of the Year,” Christian said. “I feel as if I still have so much to learn. The profession itself is about continuous learning. Last year ended in such an abrupt manner and this year is filled with so many changes that no teacher was prepared for. I think that earning this honor means my co-workers see that I am trying my best—much like we all are—and that I am willing to go the extra mile if it means that my students can succeed in truly unprecedented times.”

Christian is currently teaching in a hybrid model, seeing two groups of students on an alternate day schedule. She works to create a positive learning environment and a strong classroom community for both students in the classroom and at home.

“My educational experience from Shepherd has been valuable because even in the most challenging of situations, I have learned that students cannot learn if they do not feel comfortable, safe, and valued,” she said. “This practice has been my main goal not just this school year but in past years and will continue to be my goal in the years to come. I love teaching because I love working with students and seeing the positive impact one person can have on another.”

“Shepherd University is proud of its legacy of producing stellar teachers and we are thrilled that Caitlin and Paige are receiving this highest recognition of Teacher of the Year within their schools,” said Dr. Sharon Mailey, dean, College of Nursing, Education, and Health Sciences. “Caitlin and Paige are being recognized for the inspiring gift of uplifting students through their teaching which comes from heart and the pedagogy of the profession. The award recognition is an exemplar of their passion for student learning and building success. We are so proud of Caitlin and Paige.”

“The School of Graduate Studies is pleased and excited to have two of the area’s finest teachers pursuing their Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction,” said Dr. Richard Stevens, dean, School of Graduate and Professional Studies. “The MACI program in enriched by their contributions along with so many others who are completing their degree here at Shepherd.”

Beginning in fall 2020, MACI transitioned to a fully online and asynchronous program with a new curriculum spearheaded by Dr. Belinda Mitchell, associate professor of education and MACI Program coordinator, giving more flexibility to working teachers earning the degree. For more information about the program, visit

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