Spotlight Series: Julie McDevitt

October 30, 2019

Public Relations

All faculty and staff play a vital role in helping Palo Alto College achieve its mission. In her new role, Julie McDevitt, director of the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), is empowering faculty and staff to best-serve students by ensuring that they have the resources they need to grow professionally.

McDevitt previously served as the College's assessment coordinator. This fall, she transitioned to her new role where she will continue her work with assessment, as well as support faculty and staff.

"The whole idea here is that we are a resource hub for faculty and staff for professional development," said McDevitt. "Assessment will now be part of our center, which is a very cutting-edge idea across the country when it comes to the marriage of teaching, learning and assessment. Now that we've got all of that together, the hope is that we work hand-in-hand to improve student learning across campus."

Improving student learning has been a major aspect of McDevitt's work since joining the College in 2016. She stresses the importance of assessment as a means of tracking that improvement.

"We have to prove to our stakeholders – our students, their families, the legislators, the city, employers – that when students come to our school, they're leaving with something: knowledge," said McDevitt. "Assessment is key to telling our story to our stakeholders and reassuring that all the effort, and money, and time that's put into our school is well spent because our students are leaving knowing what we intended them to know."

Having worked in education for 21 years, McDevitt is no stranger to student learning. Her mother was a teacher as well, which inspired her desire to work in education. In addition to her work in the TLC, McDevitt is an adjunct faculty for Palo Alto College's Teacher Education program. When she is teaching, McDevitt finds joy when she is able to reach her students. Since she began teaching at the College, she has expanded the Teacher Education program's JA in a Day to allow Early College High School students to teach at local elementary schools, giving them hands-on experience in the classroom.

"I want to help the students understand and get excited about the content," said McDevitt. "That may happen once or twice out of ten lessons, but that constant challenge of trying to get them engaged and trying to get them excited about the content is what's always driven me as a teacher."

When she is not working with students directly, McDevitt aims to find ways to engage faculty and staff in assessment and professional development.

"It's a very similar feeling. It's very exciting," said McDevitt. "That's what keeps me going: Trying to problem solve."

McDevitt believes that continuous improvement within faculty and staff is key to improvement in student performance. Although still in its early stages, McDevitt hopes that her work with the TLC can make a difference.

"We want this to be an inviting place for faculty and staff," said McDevitt. "My vision is that it's a safe place to come, ask questions, and get resources. It's a place where faculty and staff can express their needs when it comes to development."

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