Renee Dawson ’10, ’23 chose to study at Shenandoah because many of her colleagues shared with her the wonderful experiences they had at the university. During her time at Shenandoah, Dawson is reminded of her incredible experiences with multiple professors.
“Dr. Shiffman being a quiet, powerful force that talked me off the ‘proverbial ledge’ when I was frustrated with a class,” said Dawson. “She was and continues to be the true definition of an advisor and thoughtful teacher who has high expectations, but makes certain you are prepared for the challenge.”
Shenandoah professors, including former Assistant Professor of Education Larry W. Brooks; Associate Professor of Quantitative Methods Sarah Daniel, Ph.D.; former Associate Professor of Education Diane DeMott Painter; and Professor of Research, Organizational & Leadership Studies John R. Goss, III, Ph.D. not only helped guide Dawson through her Shenandoah experience, but also encouraged her to think outside the box.
Dawson is the assistant director of CTE, Computer Science, and Community Connections for Loudoun County Public Schools. Before this position, she was the principal of Brambleton Middle School in Ashburn, Virginia, which is the 16th middle school to open in Loudoun County. Dawson found it to be tremendously rewarding to help open the school.
“I would say that the first day of school at Brambleton Middle School, where the entire staff flanked the entrance of our building and cheered, danced and gave high-fives to every student who walked through our doors, was the epitome of my dream realized,” said Dawson. “Creating the climate of each student knowing their value was there before my eyes and it was one of my proudest moments.”
However, Dawson continues to dream bigger. “My ultimate goal in education is to be a part of a university faculty. My hope is that I can be to others what they have been to me,” explained
Dawson. She received her Master of Education degree in educational leadership at Shenandoah University in 2010 and her Education Specialist in Educational Leadership degree in 2023.
Dawson attributes the success in her career to Shenandoah’s wonderful community and faculty, as well as the university’s commitment to nurturing leadership qualities in all students.
The impact that they have had on shaping me, preparing me and nurturing me into to a school leader has not only benefited me as a professional, but also my entire school community. Integrity, grit, hard work, thoughtful and purposeful decision-making are a few of the lessons I learned as a graduate student at Shenandoah University.”
And, Shenandoah is more than “just books” to Dawson. “Shenandoah University is not just any university. It is a place that nurtures learning, cultivates future leaders, inspires excellence, and welcomes every human being with open arms,” said Dawson.
Dawson’s advice to students is: “Learn everything you can, reflect on your experience, be a critical thinker, seek opportunities to meet others in your profession, share your experience, be present in every moment and be kind.”