Episode #126: Helping Students Feel Safe, Seen, and Stretched with Julie Schmidt Hasson

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

Dr. Julie Schmidt Hasson is a professor teaching graduate courses in educational leadership, a researcher, and a teacher advocate who researched the ways teachers influence students’ lives. She interviewed hundreds of people about the teachers they remember. This research became the Chalk and Chances project with what those stories mean for teachers, and the information and inspiration that educators need in her upcoming book, “Safe, See, and Stretched in the Classroom.”  
Background and where you grew up
I grew up in Central Florida. My mother and grandmother were both teachers, and I loved playing school as a kid. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, where I met my husband, Brian. We were married in 1990 and have two children, Connor and Cailin. I spent twenty-five years as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and principal.  While working in school administration, I earned my doctorate degree in educational leadership from the University of South Florida. In 2015, I left my principal position to become a professor at my alma mater, Florida Southern College. In 2020, I accepted a faculty position at Appalachian State University and moved to Boone, North Carolina.
What it was like for you as a student and how your 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Russell impacted you
I was a highly anxious kid. I struggled with dyslexia and was terrified to walk into my first-grade classroom. I just knew I wasn’t ready for first grade. Lucky for me, I ended up in Nancy Russell’s class. Because of her patience, persistence, and creativity, I learned to love reading. I know that if my teacher had shown frustration instead of patience, I would have seen myself differently as a learner. Because of Mrs. Russell,  I grew to love school. So much so that I became a teacher, just like her. After fifteen years in the classroom, I  became a principal. And Mrs. Russell was on the faculty of the school I led. I got to spend three years reconnecting with my first-grade teacher.

When my beloved first-grade teacher retired in 2015, I reflected on the impact she made on my life. Everything I achieved was built on the foundation Mrs. Russell laid, and I wondered if everyone had a Mrs. Russell. As a new professor, I needed to choose a research focus. I decided to investigate what teachers (like Mrs. Russell) said and did to make a lasting impact on students’ lives.
Your Family
As a child, I spent many hours helping my mother prepare her classroom. She was passionate about teaching and believed it was her calling. She taught many of my friends, and so, I saw the impact she made. My daughter, Cailin, is so much like my mom. She is the perfect mix of soft and strong. Cailin is now in her third year as a third-grade teacher. I love seeing teaching through the eyes of a young teacher. 

Your journey as a teacher, principal, professor
I spent fifteen years teaching in the primary grades. I loved being able to teach through thematic units and projects. I earned National Board Certification and served as a mentor. I left the classroom to become an assistant principal and principal,