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Learning and Design (M.Ed.)

Student Perspectives on the Program

Watch what our current students have to say about the Learning and Design program.


Alumni Profiles

Christy King

Christy King  (2017)

Montessori Art Teacher

Nashville, Tenn.


"Each professor encouraged me to become a reflective practitioner"

Throughout my coursework, I never stopped thinking about two things that I was already interested in: teaching and art-making.  Each professor encouraged me to become a reflective practitioner and to consider the ways that my coursework could be applied to my future practice, and this was immensely helpful in preparing me to utilize what I learned.  My time at Peabody deepened my understanding of how individuals learn, and also challenged me to think about ways of thinking and learning that are privileged in educational settings, and how I might design for equity instead of against it.

A major shift in my thinking has been inspired by the ethnographic work in qualitative research, or the empathy building practices in design thinking. With the idea of 'teacher as learner' in mind, instead of preparing to be the expert, I can learn from the children and families for whom I am designing programs or curricula in order to best meet their needs and create quality learning experiences.

Now I have graduated from the program, I will continue teaching art at two of Nashville's Montessori schools, and will be pursuing art-making and creative ways to be involved in art education throughout the community.  Some local places that I have worked with so far are Preston Taylor Ministries and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.


Jennifer Huang

Jennifer Huang  (2017)

MD/M.Ed. student

Vanderbilt Medical School, Nashville, Tenn.


"Learning about educational theory has also given me a new perspective on the different aspects of medical education"

One of the main things that I've realized during my time at Peabody is how much learning depends on the established environment and culture. Teachers aren't just there to teach, and students and patients aren't just there to learn. I want to be able to contribute to this kind of a collegial environment that encourages teaching and learning in all directions. Learning about educational theory has also given me a new perspective on the different aspects of medical education.

I have always enjoyed teaching, but prior to Peabody, I never would've thought that I would take a year off of medical school to get an education degree. Peabody has given me the chance to learn so much more about the theory and practice of education, not just medically related but also knowledge that will be useful for my future kids! Through the program, I have already met so many great people and had the chance to be involved in a variety of educational research projects. I'm not sure exactly how yet, but I know that my time at Peabody will continue to influence my future plans and am looking forward to whatever it is!

After graduating, I will continue on to residency. In my future career, in addition to my clinical responsibilities, I'd love to be involved with medical education in some way.

Natalie Mays

Natalie Mays (2015)

Residential Counselor

Eagle Hill School, Hardwick, Mass.


"Peabody catapulted my professional experience to the next level"

I work with sophomore girls to facilitate a learning environment in the dormitory and work to create out of school learning experiences. I also coach the swim team.

Vanderbilt shaped my understanding of how people learn in various settings and how we can best cater to learning as educators. Before Peabody, I spent a lot of time thinking about instruction but not in regards to the science and theory of learning. I became particularly interested in understanding authentic learning experiences, such as out of school learning, where children learn organically. In addition, I worked with a number of boarding schools in the Southeast to understand how these schools facilitate extra-curricular learning. 

Learning is not a stagnant, knowable process. It is - instead - a growing, changing enigma that requires constant study and consideration. As the world changes, so do learners. The world in which we live demands educators who are competent in innovative practices and a pursuit of nuanced understanding of learning and design. 

I appreciated the ability to mesh the program seamlessly with my interests. The experience I gained at Peabody launched me into a professional network that I needed to pursue the environments I was passionate about. Peabody is an ideal setting for learners who want to catapult their professional experiences to the next level.

Zohra Nasir

Zohra Nasir (2016)

School Planning and Curriculum Design

The Citizen's Foundation, Pakistan



"I was a co-participant in conversations, rather than a 'student' in the traditional sense"

Peabody was my first experience with education that valued learning and development, rather than deadlines, compliance and authority. In such a supportive and encouraging space, I had room to focus on ideas rather than on manipulating a system. I also always felt like a co-participant in conversations, rather than a "student" in the traditional sense.

I walked away from the Learning and Design program with a set of beliefs about education that are solidly grounded in research, beliefs that I advocate for every day. I know now that inquiry, play, informal environments and projects are rich educational experiences; I understand the importance of context and the richness of cultural and community knowledge; I understand that knowledge is co-created through interactions, rather than handed as a gift from a teacher to a student. I also have a toolkit of practical ways in which to bring these ideas into classrooms.

I'm currently working with The Citizen's Foundation (TCF), an NGO in Pakistan.  I will be setting up a "model school" in which we experiment with bringing inquiry, play, community engagement and integrated curriculum into a low-resource setting. This means creating curriculum and content, imagining spaces and tools, and supporting staff in adopting an entirely new theory of learning, and trying to do so in ways that can be replicated in different contexts.