Five years ago, Dennis and Christina Reardon felt stuck in a rut. They had been professional journalists for seven years – successful but unfulfilled. In their work, they examined societal problems, such as poverty and educational underachievement, but never had the opportunity to help solve them. The couple’s yearning to do that led them in 2007 to Temple University Harrisburg.
Dennis pursued a master’s degree in education, with a specialization in elementary education. Near the end of his studies, he used his newly acquired skills to student teach at Downey Elementary School in Harrisburg School District. After graduating in May 2009, he worked as a first-grade teacher at St. Rose of Lima School in York County and returned to Temple to pursue a certificate in special education. He then took jobs as a special education teacher of teens with behavioral difficulties for Manito Inc. in Dauphin County and as an elementary life skills support teacher for Lincoln Intermediate Unit No. 12 in York. He now serves as a learning support teacher of sixth graders with Dallastown Area School District.
Christina sought a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Her learning at Temple extended beyond the classroom. She twice participated in service-learning trips to the Caribbean (once joined by Dennis), where she shadowed educators and social workers serving the population of Vieux Fort, St. Lucia. The experience inspired her and another student to launch Beyond Our Borders, a student organization dedicated to international social work. She also found a way to combine her writing and social work careers by serving as a regular contributing writer to Social Work Today, a newsmagazine for social workers. She graduated in August 2010.
Since then, the Reardons have had the chance to give back to Temple Harrisburg. Dennis acts as the campus’ writing coach, helping students write better. Christina works at Temple Harrisburg’s Nonprofit Evaluation, Services and Training program, where she helps nonprofits improve their capacity and ability to serve their communities. Her duties include helping Temple engage with nonprofit agencies through trainings, professional development events and communications. In fall 2012, she got an opportunity to give back directly to MSW students as an adjunct instructor in a program evaluation course.
For Christina and Dennis, their Temple journey resulted not only in graduate degrees, but changed perspectives on life.
"We have met such a wonderful variety of people and have been exposed to such a rich diversity of experiences through Temple Harrisburg," Christina says. "We are so grateful for this great opportunity we’ve had to further our education and serve others in the process."
"From our professors to the other staff members to our fellow students, Temple Harrisburg brought many special individuals into our lives," Dennis says. "We cherish our experiences there and look forward to enjoying several new ones."