Author: Natalie Akumiah

Staying in Storrs: SPM Alumnus on Networking and NCAA Rules

The University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership is fortunate to have well-connected alumni who continue to work with the university post-graduation or who have returned after years of work in diverse professional settings. The “Staying in Storrs” series highlights our talented EDLR program alumni and the work they are currently doing with UConn. This feature focuses on the Sport Management Program.

Eric Schneider headshotEric Schneider, the current Assistant Athletic Director for the University of Connecticut’s Athletic Compliance Department, is a proud UConn Sport Management alumnus. Schneider, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management returned to Storrs in November of 2017 to work at his alma mater. 

During his time as an undergraduate student at UConn, Schneider took full advantage of the Sport Management Program, both inside and outside of the classroom, which broadened his perspective on sports. His interest in NCAA rules and interpretations grew tremendously during this time. In the sport world, it’s important to look at the whole picture and know what goes on behind the scenes – from the individual player experience to the individual fan experience. Schneider says,

“Overall the Sport Management Program exposed me to all different levels of sports.” 

Schneider believes that it is important to work with experts in all different levels of sports. He says that it allows for collaboration and is a way to see how the rules are interpreted differently.

After graduating from UConn, Schneider went on to earn a Master’s degree in Sport Management from Adelphi University, where he continued to gain valuable experience. He took on several coaching jobs, which he says he enjoyed as they gave him the opportunity to learn about sports from an NCAA and legal angle. He then completed a variety of impressive internships, and worked for the NCAA in its Academic and Membership Affairs division.

In the fall of 2017, Schneider returned to UConn because of the impactful role he felt the Sport Management Program had on his success. He credits the program for providing exposure and preparation for the professional world which helped him identify the trajectory of his career path.

In his position, he is responsible for answering questions when it comes to rule interpretations, so having an idea of the possible ways the rules can be (mis)interpreted allows him to not only give better answers, but to also improve the educational materials he provides to the athletic staff. Schneider expresses that he loves his job because of the many roles he has which include: ensuring that staff, coaches, and athletes are following NCAA rules and integrity, verifying eligibility standards for student-athletes, and creating educational materials to inform the athletic community about University rules and regulations. 

Schneider’s advice to aspiring sport professionals is to focus on networking. Networking in the sport industry is crucial to being successful, he says, because it is the best way to expose yourself to new opportunities. Forming connections and building relationships with a broad network of people in the field is something that Schneider did as a student and is something he credits to where he is today.

Staying in Storrs: Adult Learning Alumnus, Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.

The University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership is fortunate to have well-connected alumni who continue to work with the university post-graduation or who have returned after years of work in diverse professional settings. The “Staying in Storrs” series highlights our talented EDLR program alumni and the work they are currently doing with UConn. This feature focuses on the Adult Learning Ph.D. Program.

Dr. Kevin Thompson, Assistant Professor in Residence in the UConn School of Business’ Management Department, is no newcomer to the UConn community: he is also an alumnus. He earned his Ph.D. in Adult Learning from the Neag School of Education and decided to bring his expertise back to UConn to work with the next generation of business professionals.

Dr. Kevin ThompsonAfter 30 years in the corporate world and earning a Ph.D., Thompson decided to leave his senior management position and return to Storrs to share his skills and knowledge with business students. He says he hopes to provide students with the same experiences and opportunities he received during his time as a student. Thompson’s mission to help students achieve success is clear in his research.

“My research focuses on how to enhance learning for the millennial generation and how service-learning impacts career success,” says Thompson.

Using his research as a foundation, Thompson has introduced experiential, project-based learning to the Business School curriculum. In December of 2018, Thompson was awarded the UConn Provost Award for Engaged Scholarship for Non-Tenure Track Faculty, which recognized his dedication to pairing community engagement and student success.

During his time as a Ph.D. student in the Adult Learning Program, Thompson said he wrote a paper that compared and contrasted adult learning scholarship and practice. Ever since that paper, he has been fascinated by the role scholarly research plays in improving lives and increasing student success. Thompson says his experience as a UConn student played a big role in his professional success. “I find that relationships can be even more important for career success than your level of technical expertise,” says Thompson. “In my Ph.D. program, I was able to develop relationships with both other students and faculty that are an essential part of my support network to this day.”

Thompson says that the most fulfilling part of his faculty position is the regular experience of engaging with students and helping them achieve their learning and career goals. “Not a day goes by that this effort does not bring me satisfaction,” says Thompson. “It drives me to try to create an even more valuable experience for the students I teach.”

Overall, Thompson describes his UConn experience as “inspired” and says that it’s important to take opportunities to pause and reflect on one’s life and career.

“It is heartwarming and inspiring to know that I’ve come to a place in my career where I can leverage all that’s been given to me for the benefit of UConn students.”

Staying in Storrs: Ed.D. Alumna Joins PK-3 Leadership Program

The University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership is fortunate to have well-connected alumni who continue to work with the university post-graduation or who have returned after years of work in diverse professional settings. The “Staying in Storrs” series highlights our talented EDLR program alumni and the work they are currently doing with UConn. This feature focuses on the PK-3 Leadership Program and Ed.D. Program.

Ed.D. student Tayarisha Stone is writing down strategies on a large yellow post-it, during her time in the Ed.D. Program
Tayarisha Stone-Batchelor engages in classroom activities while obtaining her Ed.D. degree. Photo credit: Shawn Kornegay/Neag School of Education

This March, Dr. Tayarisha Stone-Batchelor, Principal of Rawson STEAM School in Hartford, CT, will return to her alma mater at the University of Connecticut to co-facilitate the latest module for the PK-3 Leadership Program.  Stone-Batchelor will be teaching alongside her Ed.D. classmate and returning PK-3 instructor, Dr. Roszena Haskins.

The Leading for Equity, Excellence, and Early Success module focuses on the critical components of leadership inside schools, the community, and across government and private agencies. Stone-Batchelor’s experience in the education field is extensive and includes a doctorate in education from The Department of Educational’s Ed.D. program. She graduated in 2017, and during her time as a student was actively involved with her cohort, which enabled her to strengthen her leadership skills by working with different students both inside and outside of her classroom experiences. She shares the most important part of being a leader is being able to be collaborative.

“To be successful in partnerships, it is imperative to have people working together, listening to other voices, and most importantly, being open to hearing other views.” – Tayarisha Stone-Batchelor

Stone-Batchelor used the strong leaderships skills she developed while in the Neag program to build and sustain positive relationships like the one with EDLR’s Husky Sport Program, an in-school and after-school program geared towards engaging Hartford youth through healthy nutrition, positive life skills and physical literacy.

In addition to her work and experience at UConn, Stone-Batchelor has been the principal of Rawson Elementary School in Hartford for the last 8 years. She was interested in working in an urban district to apply her expertise in developing a new model that would ensure all students have equal access and can compete for future jobs.  As the principal, Stone-Batchelor strives to give her students STEM opportunities that fully immerse and engage them. Stone-Batchelor’s efforts towards improving urban schools goes hand in hand with the passion she has for using her platform to become a voice for minorities. In February of 2019, she was recognized by the Voices of Women of Color earning the Trailblazer award for providing Women of Color with leadership skills that lead to employment opportunities and success in their communities.   

Because of Neag’s integral role in her success as an administrator, Stone-Batchelor has decided to return to Storrs. She hopes to give others the same experience she had, share what she has learned, and encourage and inspire others who undecided on their career path. She says that she made the decision to come back and teach at Neag because she sees that education has an impact on students and she wants to be a part of it. Specifically, Stone-Batchelor is excited to work with adult leaders, serving PK-3 aged students. 

What sets this program apart from others, says Stone-Batchelor, is that Neag’s PK-3 program uses modules that bring together an expert panel as a means to incorporate all perspectives and create a bigger picture for educators.  She believes it is important to expose educators to strategies that she has picked up in her time working in an urban district and she plans to implement the whole-child perspective which focuses on considering the child’s family as well stating,

“We’ve danced around the achievement gap for over a decade now,” she says. “We need to look at programs that partner with families early on so that we can break down the barriers early.”

Throughout her career, Stone-Batchelor has always kept a certain question in mind: how do we sustain what we have built so far and make it better? As she takes on this new role as PK-3 instructor, Stone-Batchelor says she finally hopes to be able to answer that question.