Improving the Title IX program at Nazareth

I’m also a deputy Title IX coordinator at Nazareth. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education and also works to raise awareness on sexual violence. I wanted to bring my educational background to this role and use valuable peer-to-peer education to raise that awareness. There is more richness and authenticity between peers and I wanted to harness that energy for this very critical need to move the needle on sexual violence. Data was first collected on sexual violence in the 1950s, and at the time roughly one in four females had been affected by it. Seventy years later, that number was the same, and this is both unacceptable and shameful. We need to move the needle and do better. Education, especially through a peer model, might just be an avenue for success to reduce this intolerable statistic.

We developed a peer-to-peer educational program and applied for a grant from the justice department to fund the program. We all worked incredibly hard and it paid off! We were awarded $300,000 from the federal justice department to improve this program. I couldn’t be more proud to continue this program and important work.

Advice for students

Seek out others who are different from you. Practice being uncomfortable with those differences and reflect on what that means to you and find connections to help you grow. Be humble, ask questions, and act upon your new knowledge.

Fun fact 

Family is the most important and valuable thing to me. I’ve been married to my husband for 28 years, and we met when I was only 5 years old. That said, I hated the guy the first 10 years I knew him! The best part of my day is when he walks through the door.

My two children teach me more than anyone else, and our two rescue dogs round out our family.

Student perspective

"Nazareth is known and honored for their exceptional program for educators. I believe that Kerry Dunn is one of the reasons this statement holds true. Kerry is a charismatic leader, who models exceptional teaching through her own practices. What makes Kerry stand out from her colleagues is her undeniable LOVE for her students both past and present. I owe much of who I am as an educator to Kerry."
— Melanie Antos '15, '17G, third-grade teacher

"Kerry Dunn was one of the most impactful and passionate professors I have ever had. One of my biggest takeaways from her is to always remember to teach to the 'whole child,' ensuring that a child's academic, social, emotional, and basic needs are always equally met."
— Brittany Heffler '19, '21G, elementary school teacher

How do you engage students?

The first thing I think is this is not my class, it's our class. Education is about the students and not about me. We create a class compact to decide what is expected of each other at the beginning of the semester. I tell my students to call me Kerry and I work to create a sense of rich authenticity. By standing side by side with my students and doing the same things I ask them to do, it allows me to show my vulnerabilities and build trust. Then, that authenticity can build organically. I like to focus on progress not perfection.

Clinical assistants — a win, win, win

The thing I am most proud of at my time at Nazareth is the creation of the Clinical Assistants Program. Clinical Assistants are current graduate students who already hold teaching certification. We pair these students with local schools to give them real-world experience and also to give back to our local communities and schools. This program is a win, win, win. 

  • The clinical assistants get hands-on experience.
  • The schools get certified professionals to help their students grow.
  • A partnership is developed between Nazareth and these schools.

In fact, our assistants are in such high demand that there’s a waiting list! I have educators and administrators move between schools and call me to see if I have anyone available to send their way. This type of program is wholly unique to Nazareth and I’m truly proud to work with these assistants and also the students they teach and the schools they work with.

Why Naz?

I was a self-professed Naz fan before I even worked at the college! I used to see the Nazareth Education Department at the same conferences and workshops I would attend. They always had a sense of growth and collaboration among them. At many of these things, the people presenting ideas will think they know everything there is and throw their nose up at you if you try to talk to them or make suggestions. I never felt that way from anyone at Naz and loved to talk to them. When I was looking for a new position and saw one open at Nazareth I was thrilled to apply. The fact that “inclusion” was included in my original title is what brought me here. Inclusion is how I live my life. All means all. All voices are expected and respected and I believe Nazareth truly represents this belief.

TED Talk on judging by appearance

Giving a TED Talk was the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I had been teaching about accessibility for years and by a stroke of fate found myself living it. I discussed my experiences in my classroom with my students and they were the ones that pushed me to do the TED Talk. They told me, this can’t live just in GAC-236, you need to tell this to the world. My family says it was they who pushed me to it but it was really my students!

The talk is called Please Don’t Pat My Head, and it discusses the barriers in our society and how we are so quick to judge on appearance. I’m incredibly proud of this talk — especially in front of a huge audience — but I’m also my biggest critic. It’s something I’m incredibly proud of but still would change many aspects of it. Like I tell my students, focus on progress, not perfection.

Watch TED Talk

    "I'm not sure if there's just one thing I can say about Kerry. She is an incredible teacher and will stop at nothing to help her students become amazing educators. She has a way about her that allows for what most would consider 'dry' material to be easily understood, engaged with, and applied to real life situations with ease. Kerry understands that education is not one-size-fits-all, even in higher education, and allows for students to learn and express their learning in ways that cater to each student's individuality.

    My many favorite memories with her were from my clinical assistantship as a graduate student. She helped me understand my role and develop my skills as a teacher and a researcher in the classroom. This is now something that I do every day in my own classroom!"

    — Jeffery Garrett '18, '19G, special education elementary teacher

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