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Professional Development Plan and Recent Experiences

Recent Professional Development Experiences:

Joined TANO - Texas Association for Non-profit Organizations

Attended workshops at Greenlights for Non-profit Success

Planning retreat for the Austin Discovery School board of directors

A sample of writing on the topic:

Professional Development Plan

Erin A. Ronder

Texas State University- San Marcos

Time Line:


Move Mexico to US. My second daughter is born*. My last semester at UT-Austin.


I graduate and walk the stage with a B.A. Major in History and minor in Applied Learning and Development. I move myself and two daughters to live in New Mexico.


Return from New Mexico. Volunteer at KLRU with Educational Services division.


Return to SWT to work on my M.Ed*. Want to become bilingual teacher. Watch the towers fall with my family. Oldest standing friend is Navy Seal and is in Iraq.


My sister lives with us while she gets chemotherapy treatment for germ cell cancer and has a 2.2 lb. tumor removed*.


My oldest daughter and I travel to Guatemala* to work on documentary for Thesis project. I complete all course work for my M.Ed. and graduate from Texas State.


I begin my first public school teaching assignment at Maplewood Elementary in AISD as a bilingual Kindergarten teacher. Most disappointing experience of my life.


I resign AISD after only one year. I discover the Austin Discovery School a charter school that is preparing to open in the fall and land job teaching Kinder/First grade.


I am hired to be the Development Coordinator at ADS. $50K, planning events, finding sponsors, organizing volunteers and planning parent education program, programming after care enrichment classes.


I am rehired to be the Development Coordinator at ADS*. This time charged with raising $150K. I also begin work on my Ph.D. at Texas State University.


I retire from ADS to complete Ph.D. My second and final year of course work for Ph.D. Begin dissertation work. Sit on school boards of 1 private & 1 charter school.


Complete dissertation.


Defend dissertation. Graduate with my Ph.D. from Texas State.


Apply for jobs with Texas State universities and foundations, PBS, national policy institutions and non-profit organizations that serve children, families and schools.


Work for university or foundation in Leadership/Community Development or PBS, policy institution or non-profit organizations that serve children, families and schools.


Establish myself in my career within a university, foundation, PBS, policy institution or non profit organization. Oldest daughter graduates high school.


Get promoted. Get published. Chair committees.


Get promoted. Get published. Chair committees.


Get promoted. Get published. Chair committees. Youngest daughter graduates.


Get promoted. Get published. Chair committees.


I am 45. Well established and prepared to take the next jump in my career to become Dean, Provost, President of a University/Executive Director of organization in 2028!

Challenges I expect to encounter and how I might overcome them

     I remember as a child politicking my parents to allow me to attend public school. After all, how many college professors were homeschooled in the 1970’s? I knew at that time working at a University was what I “wanted to do when I grew up”. Since that early revelation, education has served to be my spiritual guide on a path to working for social justice. Tisdell (1999) states that, “for many, spirituality is a grounding place for working for justice in the world”.

     Once, when I was four, my mother’s feminist friends, who often took me to book readings at independent lesbian books stores and feminist political rallies at Loyola University in Chicago, gifted a t-shirt to me. I will never forget what it looked like. It was bright blue and the cursive, rainbow, iron-on decal said, “Never under estimate the power of a woman”. I never did. This has become my personal motto and represents my belief in my ability to achieve my goals. Tisdell (1999) continues that, “spirituality is about constructing knowledge through image and symbol. But it is also about attempting to live or act in the world in accordance with one’s spiritual path, which for many has an orientation to community.” These women in my community helped me to make this connection early on.

     I expect obstacles and I welcome challenges; my life has been fraught with them. Exactly how I anticipate overcoming them is an entirely different issue however. Mostly I play it by ear and try to roll with the punches that the universe throws at me. For the better part of my life, I succeeded by pure determination and the support of a strong sense of community. I have overcome the various hurtles placed before me by sheer will, critical reflection and a bit of good attitude sprinkled in for good measure. Cranton (2002) maintains that, “critical reflection is the means by which we work through beliefs and assumptions, assessing their validity in the light of new experiences or knowledge, considering their sources, and examining underlying premises”.

     In the following pages, I will attempt to construct a plausible outcome of all of this hard work and how it might manifest itself in to an actual career which addresses both my personal social and spiritual developmental needs. You will see that central to my vision is the desire to create opportunities for emancipatory knowledge for transformational change in the U.S. through all levels of education. Cranton (2002) asserts that, “emancipatory knowledge, the self-awareness that frees us from constraints, is a product of critical reflection”. The power of our society rests in our ability to reflect and catalyze the strength of our communities to achieve social justice. My strength as an educator and my spiritual guide is my belief in our society’s ability to mend it’s fractured whole and become truly a nation of life-long learners.

Social and Spiritual Development through Life Work

     If we as a society are to indeed prosper, we must reject “the oppressive aspects of the Anglo-centric culture of the past (in favor of) a new model that validates all the cultures within this diverse society” (Zimmermann, 2000). Students who perceive themselves to be outside the dominant culture can suffer from alienation which, in turn, can lead to a loss of compassion for others, lowered self esteem and low performance in academics (a construct of the dominant culture to which they do not belong). As authentic relationships with trusted adults can provide the support system needed by these “at-risk” students, an ethic of caring is vital in the classroom.

     An “ethic of caring” supports adult, bilingual, special and alternative education programs in that it provides a natural avenue to the creation of authentic relationships between teacher, student, parent and peers. This approach is culturally responsive to the diverse needs of our society. It can also provide teachers who can communicate with their students and the parents of these students. Finding ways of integrating this ethic of caring into the dominant culture of my work places may prove to be the most difficult of my challenges. I propose to address this challenge by introducing the seven C’s of learning identified by Luckie (2005): continuous, collaborative, connected, collective, creative, captured and codified. Many studies provide support for the notion that parent involvement is key to student success. The recognition of the need for parental involvement is simply an acceptance of the need to embrace the cultural needs unique to every learner in our society.

     Paolo Friere (1985) says: “The pursuit of full harmony cannot be carried out in isolation or individualism, but only in fellowship and solidarity; therefore it cannot unfold in the antagonistic relations between oppressors and the oppressed.” This statement clearly encapsulates my personal educational theory. American society is made up of factions of people. The success of our culture lays in the notion that “our culture” is a complementary blend of global cultural mores and folkways. An essential element to effective learning environments is the ability to teach tolerance and acceptance for all facets of our society. In addition, recognizing the need for a caring, self-esteem building classroom-environment can only increase our effectiveness and affective-ness in the classroom.

     The social justice framework has the possibility to be one of the most effective tools for motivation and transformation of the young mind that a teacher (namely me) has to work with. Sinnott (2005) suggests that the motivation factor why a person might want to do the difficult work of rising to the challenge posed is for the construction of and maintenance of the Self through a connection to others. From this paradigm, all education has the power to transform a community, not just the individual. The notion of reciprocity has recently been explored as a viable means for engaging student involvement and garnering community support. It is for this reason that teaching from a social justice perspective speaks to me.

     I believe that all of these perspectives: multicultural education, a social justice paradigm, bilingual instruction and democratic educational institutions are integral pieces of the current educational puzzle. Educators must continue to embrace the notion of community involvement as the key to student success. Merriam (2005) describes that, “for a transition to be developmental, to be transformative, we do more than accommodate that change, solve the problem, or neutralize the stress. We must actively engage with the event, as painful as it might be”.

     It is through understanding the communities’ needs through language and culture and demonstrating respect for differences within our communities that we can truly reach every student. When careful consideration is given to these concepts, education becomes a democratic process that will engage and prove to be meaningful for all participants. It is time to move away from the teacher-centered, Euro-centric model of education for the sake of our students and the sake of our communities.

     The Southwest Educational Laboratory defines constructivist education as “a philosophy of learning…who held that humans can only clearly understand what they have themselves constructed”. This philosophy encompasses not only how the students learn, but how parents as well as teachers learn. We all accept responsibility for our learning and our involvement in the school as a community of learning. This philosophical framework defines our culture as a community. However, as with any community it also provides limitations on how our goals are reached.

     The distrust that some have for “big-brother’s” involvement in our school system has caused the creation of factions in our community and slowed the progress of the school toward full inclusion of all stakeholders. Sergiovanni (2000) writes of the high level of political skill that is required for negotiating this delicate balance. Improvement and change in a culture where all are given equal representation is a slow thing. It is frustrating a lot of the time, but it is the community that I have chosen to be a part of and it is the culture that I seek to grow.

     Wolf (2005) maintains that, “every class has such a mix of individuals-all coming to the learning experience with their own perspectives, needs, developmental stages-and every classroom is a cauldron for change and growth”. This conscious development of our educational cauldron is what drives me to do the work that I do. With enough endurance, I will make it back to Central America to work with indigenous educators, develop a sophisticated understanding of my theoretical perspective in a University setting and eventually follow Dr. Trauth’s footsteps into Leadership at a college somewhere in the world. And I will never underestimate the power of this woman.



      Cranton, P. (2002). Teaching for Transformation. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 93, 63-71.

      Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education: culture, power, and liberation. South Hadley, Mass: Bergin & Garvey.

      Luckie, J. (2005). Life Journey: Awakenings and Learning Experiences. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education,108, 69-78.

      Merriam, S. (2005). How Adult Life Transitions Foster Learning and Development. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education,108 ,3-13.

      Sergiovanni, T. (2000). The new Lifeworld of Leadership: creating culture, community and personal meaning in our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

      Sinnott, J. (2005). The Dance of the Transforming Self: Both Feelings of Connection and Complex Thought Are Needed for Learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 108, 27-37.

      Tisdell, E. (1999). The spiritual dimension of adult development. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 84, 87-95.

      Wolf, M. (2005). Life Span Well-Being. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education,108 , 53-59.

      Zimmerman, L.W. (2000). Bilingual education as a manifestation of an ethic of caring. Educational Horizons, 78, 72-76.

Evidence of the Portfolio Planning Matrix criteria found here for:

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