Josh Bearman (M.T. '13): Preparation leads to appreciation

Alum values SOE experience “a little more each year”

Josh Bearman
Josh Bearman (M.T. ‘13)

After graduating from Brown University in 2000 with a geology degree, Josh Bearman (M.T. ’13) went to work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as an environmental educator. Part of his job was designing and conducting environmental education courses for elementary, middle and high school students in the field. He enjoyed working with students and for a time, entertained a teaching career.

Before he could pursue that dream, Bearman was awarded a state fellowship to attend the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where he earned his master’s degree in 2008. He didn’t want to pursue the field right away, so he pursued another passion: he toured as a professional bluegrass musician for a few years until the time spent away from home (up to 200 days a year) lost its appeal.

That’s when Bearman thought more seriously about teaching. When an acquaintance at the VCU Rice Rivers Center suggested he contact the VCU School of Education, Bearman already knew about the school’s reputation. The more he learned, the more he realized the timing was right.

“I knew I wanted to teach within the city of Richmond, and I knew that the School of Education prepared students to teach in urban and high needs environments,” he said. “More importantly, I wanted access to the thinking and the literature that it takes to teach students in these environments.”

Bearman learned about the school’s Richmond Teacher Residency program, and was immediately attracted to its streamlined approach and generous stipend for each resident. His 13-month residency at Richmond Public Schools’ Lucille M. Brown Middle School helped him earn his Master of Teaching degree in secondary education in 2013.

Bearman became a full-time science teacher the same year when his residency mentor transitioned into an administration role. His first year teaching at Lucille Brown, he noticed that his colleagues who graduated from other schools of education were becoming overwhelmed by requirements of the job not directly related to teaching. Things like calling students’ parents or meeting with them, and even cleaning up the classroom.

“The Richmond Teacher Residency prepares you well for all of those things and more, which is extremely beneficial,” he said.

Bearman, who’s been teaching at Lucille Brown now for almost five years, says he still calls on his School of Education experience, for example, when he’s looking for new ideas in the classroom.

“I still refer back to my class notes and projects from my Reading Instruction in the Content Area course with Dr. Bill Muth, and I think about discussions we had on progressive ideas in education in Dr. Kurt Stemhagen’s class, when I’m looking for new strategies or approaches in the classroom,” he said.

“It makes me very appreciative of what I learned at SOE a little more each year.”