Ameeta Schmitt, a 2020 alumna of the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Language, Literacy, and Culture program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, recognizes the growing need for English-speaking students to learn a second language in education.
“By introducing and learning languages from younger grades, it enables students to potentially pick more specialized programming in high school and beyond.”
Schmitt aims to build upon world language education programs in her new role as the World Language Curriculum Supervisor for Pittsburgh Public Schools and continue the work of the previous supervisor, Marsha Plotkin-Goleman. In this role, Schmitt’s primary focus is to provide district-wide instructional support to foreign language educators in all aspects of planning, instruction, assessment, and teacher growth and evaluation.
“Language offerings in the middle-school years are particularly slim, and elementary level offerings are generally couched within magnet programs, which highlights access and equity issues,” explained Schmitt. “We need to work to rebuild language accessibility regardless of a student’s magnet status.”
Schmitt also assists in developing curriculum centered on culturally relevant and responsive practices for students. She sees this work as an opportunity to further language learning for all students.
“Students who, once exposed to language learning, are inspired to pursue it further in their lives,” says Schmitt.
Schmitt credits Pitt Education for giving her foundational research tools that she regularly uses in her educational practice. Through the EdD program, Schmitt refined her understanding and extended herwork in regards to social justice and equity within education.
“I learned how to conduct research properly, engage in action-oriented research, work collaboratively, and to manage my time in a way that has continued to benefit me as a professional,” says Schmitt. “The EdD program placed a high emphasis on social justice and my coursework empowered me to enact my learning within my practice and to share my learning with others,”
Schmitt also highlighted her faculty doctoral advisor, Richard Donato, pushing her thinking and enriching her foreign language education expertise.
“Being provided opportunities to work one-on-one with my advisor so frequently and in a triad with another peer is rare,” says Schmitt. “I appreciated Dr. Donato consistently making the time for these interactions.”
During the EdD program, Schmitt was thankful for support from her family, colleagues, and administrators at Pitt Education.
“The accessibility of the program was beyond my greatest hopes when I entered the program,” explained Schmitt. “I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I had to frequently work with professors in small group settings and one-on-one. I have kept in touch with many of them since I graduated, which makes me still feel like part of the Pitt community.”