College of Education

2021 Impact Report

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Scholar-Practitioner: Kim Ferraro

Kim Ferraro smiling sitting down at a computer

Kim Ferraro, recognized as one of Illinois’ top teachers through a prestigious fellowship she received, reflects on the many ways the College of Education primed her for success in the classroom.

Kim Ferraro learned a vital lesson from Mister Rogers—yes, that Mister Rogers—when she took an educational psychology course at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

More precisely, she learned how to plan lessons from a class David Zola taught. The late Zola, a clinical professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, used Mister Rogers’ simple yet effective approach as an example.

“He showed clips of how Mister Rogers would introduce what the kids were going to learn that day, how he was going to go about it, and then a reflection at the end,” says Ferraro, a 2015 graduate of Illinois who is in her fourth year of teaching at Lake Zurich (IL) High School.

At first, Ferraro didn’t get it. But in a discussion class of Zola’s, it clicked. “I saw how Mister Rogers was showing you how to create a lesson plan based on what you want the kids to achieve, how you go about it, how you angle it, how you engage in it,” she says. “That stuck with me.”

“I learned how to reflect on what I do, how to measure how successful I am, what things I would change,” says Ferraro, who currently teaches AP Human Geography and U.S. History. “A lot of my administrators have told me my reflections are very good, because I’m able to articulate what I can improve."

Ferraro received a $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowship in 2019. The fellowship is geared to help secondary level history, government, and civics teachers become outstanding educators of the U.S. constitution. Ferraro is one of only two teachers in Illinois, and one of 53 in the nation, to receive the fellowship.