Hanna Luce is on a mission to increase access to literacy for all students.

"I love everything about watching my students become readers and writers, and now I’m excited about the prospect of working in government and changing the way we support students and families."

The UVM alumna received her B.S. in Elementary Education in 2017, and just completed her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. In the fall, Hannah will begin pursuit of her Ph.D. in Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Through a graduate research assistantship, she will work with a research team evaluating the effectiveness of a new professional development program for educators teaching literacy in Kindergarten through third grade.

“Course work at UVM challenged me to examine issues involving equity and access,” she says. “Following my junior year of undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to intern for a nonprofit organization called The Children's Literacy Foundation (CLiF). My most memorable experience at CLiF was talking with incarcerated mothers about how to share books with their children. That inspired me to think about our work with children and families from a systems perspective and how to disrupt generational trends.”

For Hannah, the Curriculum and Instruction program provided an optimal balance between core and elective courses. Over the span of two years, she took six literacy instruction classes and four elective classes.

"The literacy courses transformed the way that I teach reading, writing and phonics, while the elective courses gave me a deeper understanding of other practices that impact education," Hannah explains. For example, educational technology classes taught her how to transform students' experiences and differentiate instruction. "The courses also challenged me to think about how to explore digital citizenship and encourage digital literacy."

For the past three years, Hannah has been teaching at Cambridge Elementary School (CES). Overcoming some challenges in the first year, she describes the following two years as an incredible experience.

“After the first year, I understood the scope and sequence for instruction and what students needed to know to be successful. I got really good at running intervention groups in my classroom to support students in meeting rigorous standards. For three years, I used the Bridges Mathematics program and enjoyed the model so much that I designed literacy workplaces to engage students in reading foundational skills through play-based learning experiences.”

Hannah Luce with friends at Commencement

Above, from left to right: College of Education and Social Services graduates Hannah Luce, Hannah Dear, Emma Ferland and Ali Evans on Commencement weekend in 2017.

Influential Professors

When she transferred to the College of Education and Social Services as an undergraduate student in her sophomore year, Hannah was surprised by how hard the faculty worked to engage students in lessons. “Learning was social, professors were approachable, and the dialogue between students in and out of the classroom was inspiring. You could always tell that students truly wanted to be there and do their best.”

Holly Busier taught one of the first classes that captured Hannah’s interest. “Holly turned me onto author Jonathan Kozol, and that inspired my commitment to justice-oriented work. She also provided the space and time for rich discussions to flourish. She stepped back and took a facilitative role, while students explored new ideas.”

Cindy Leonard was another faculty member who shaped Hannah’s commitment to strong literacy instruction by getting students to apply theoretical concepts in engaging ways.

Throughout her undergraduate and graduate studies at UVM, Hannah took seven courses with Juliet Halladay. “I really appreciate the way Juliet provided authentic opportunities to reflect on and apply new learning. During her Literacy Assessment course, we would read about new assessments, and then she would provide opportunities to give them a try. This course definitely changed my assessment practices in my classroom.”

Halladay says the goal of the Curriculum and Instruction master's program is to help educators move forward professionally and improve their ability to meet students’ needs. "We emphasize research-to-practice connections as a way for educators to build a solid theoretical foundation while learning specific tools to help them with their daily classroom work. Hannah took this research-to-practice connection to heart, and I’m thrilled that she will be continuing her own learning by pursuing her Ph.D.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 shut down schools in mid-March, professors in the Curriculum and Instruction program were quick to adapt and expand assignments effectively. 

“They showed a commitment to teaching content and creating project-based opportunities to demonstrate new learning, and that inspired me to give my first graders at CES the same choices as a way to engage all types of learners successfully," Hannah explains. “My time at the school has been amazing. I am so thankful that innovation, creativity and collaboration are always encouraged.”


Doug Gilman