Skip to Content

Learning and Design (M.Ed.)

Alumni Profiles

 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.


Ben Lischwe

Ben Lischwe  (2014)

8th Grade Math Teacher

Meigs Academic Magnet Middle School, Nashville, Tenn.


"[Peabody] Gave me the tools to really push students past surface-level learning"

I got a much better handle on what deep and impactful learning really looks like. It gave me the tools to really push the students past surface-level mathematics and get to what’s important – critical thinking, problem solving, justification – skills that will not only help them succeed in math, but in their everyday life.