Kaitlin Sommer Fleischmann ’11 first came to Shenandoah University to meet with former Shenandoah Field Hockey Coach Lois Bowers, but from the moment she stepped on to campus, she knew Shenandoah was the place she was meant to be.
Next to meeting her husband, Andrew Fleischmann ’12, at Shenandoah, Fleischmann’s fondest memories come from her time playing field hockey and lacrosse. “Sprint Field at Shentel Stadium literally holds my blood, sweat and tears, and I will never lose or forget the bonds I made with my teammates and coaches when I wore number 8 as a Hornet,” said Fleischmann.
Fleischmann is a high school dean of special education for Loudoun County Public Schools. She works with students, families and staff to ensure a free and appropriate public education for all students in accordance with all state and federal guidelines. She is also a varsity field hockey coach at Loudoun County High School, and coaches club field hockey for Metro Hockey Club.
With the mentorship, guidance, love and support from Coach Bowers, Fleischmann was able to start the field hockey program at Loudoun County High School in 2016. That year, she was also named Dulles District Coach of the Year.
The most rewarding experiences throughout Fleischmann’s career as a teacher and coach are helping students and student athletes to surpass personal goals and develop growth mindsets. “I will never forget, during my first year of teaching, when I told a student I was proud of him for the hard work he had put in to writing an essay,” said Fleischmann. “He looked at me and said, ‘Nobody has ever said they’re proud of me.’ Small moments when young people feel success are truly the most rewarding.”
The political science faculty, particularly Dr. Shendow, Dr. Leonard, and Dr. Winn prepared Fleischmann for the career field by encouraging her to respectfully challenge the status quo, ask meaningful questions, become a better writer and think deeply about how each person and every idea can impact the world. She also continues to model her coaching practices after Coach Bowers and Shenandoah Women’s Head Lacrosse Coach Lindsey Lutz, and continually utilizes the lessons she learned from coaching classes with Shenandoah Head Baseball Coach Kevin Anderson. “I will forever be grateful to my coaches Lois Bowers and Lindsey Lutz for their guidance and leadership, and for helping me become a better, more impactful teacher and coach,” said Fleischmann.
Fleischmann’s advice to students is: “Always have a student-centered approach, be a lifelong learner and admit when you’re wrong or unsure. Additionally, find mentors who inspire you to be a better teacher and/or coach, and try to learn everything you can from them.”
Written by Harley Ryan ’16
Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs