The Virginia Tech School of Education will continue growing as a catalyst for positive change throughout Virginia and beyond, said Kristin Gehsmann, the school’s new director. 

Gehsmann will begin leading the school Aug. 1.

“Dr. Gehsmann is a spectacular choice to lead our School of Education,” said Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “I look forward to a rich partnership and to working together to build programs ranked among the nation’s finest. Her vision, energy, and experience will be tremendous assets to the college.” 

Gehsmann most recently served as professor and chair of the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education at East Carolina University. 

Among her accomplishments at the university, Gehsmann created an innovative online master’s program, increased her department’s peer-reviewed scholarly output and sponsored research, and improved the visibility and rankings of several of the department’s programs. She worked with university and state government officials, K–12 educators, nonprofits, and members of the business community to advance legislation and initiatives in early learning and early reading. She is credited with raising $20 million in sponsored research and programs over the course of her career.

Gehsmann, who will also be appointed as a professor of education at Virginia Tech, earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s in early childhood education from Central Connecticut State University. She earned a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Vermont. She has new editions of two coauthored textbooks on literacy development and literacy assessment coming out later this year.

Gehsmann began her career in education as an elementary school teacher in 1992. She became an assistant professor at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, in 2006, where she also served in leadership roles before moving to East Carolina. 

“I’m a lifelong learner, and the older I get, the more questions I have,” said Gehsmann. “Education is a field where things don’t just stay the same. They’re constantly evolving and changing, and I like to be on the cutting edge. As teacher educators, we need to focus on preparing our students to teach in schools we can only dream of today. I want our students to see themselves as agents of change.”

As a leader in the field of education, Gehsmann said she’s focused on equity along with innovation.

“When it comes to education, it’s crucial to consider how we can improve people’s access to higher education and opportunities for continuous learning and growth,” said Gehsmann. “We need to put ladders in place so more people can reach their goals.”

The Virginia Tech School of Education offers 18 master’s programs, 20 doctoral programs, 14 teaching licensure programs, six educational specialist programs, five advanced licensure endorsement programs, and five graduate certificate programs led by award-winning faculty members. 

Additionally, the school has four centers: the Center for Research and Development in International Education, the Training and Technical Assistance Center, the Center for Instructional Technology Solutions in Industry and Education, and Virginia Career View. 

“I’m excited to work with a variety of stakeholders to envision the future of the Virginia Tech School of Education,” said Gehsmann. “Amplifying and building on the outstanding work already underway in the School of Education are among my top priorities.”

— Written by Andrew Adkins