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Alumni Spotlight: Eleanor W. Gensemer '05

eleanor gensemer

EdD Cognitive Studies in Reading

Other Degrees

MEd, Educational Psychology, Widener University

BS, Psychology, Widener University


Glenolden, PA

Current Position

Head of Middle School
Benchmark School

My Widener Experience

why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in cognitive studies in reading at widener?

I was already teaching at Benchmark School, an independent school for children who learn differently or who haven't reached their potential, when I decided to pursue a graduate degree in reading and language arts. The importance of helping students learn the skills and strategies necessary to meet their learning potential was clear to me from my work at Benchmark, and I wanted to increase my knowledge of the research base that supports outstanding reading instruction so that I could continue to help students grow in their knowledge of themselves as learners and to be part of transforming their futures.

what made you choose widener?

As an adult learner, the choice to attend Widener was based on several factors. Convenience was certainly important, as I had three small children at home and wanted a school that was close to my home. I had been supported as an undergraduate with grants and scholarships, and had succeeded here as an undergraduate. I also was attracted to Widener because of the courses that were offered and the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree in reading and language arts.

My Professional Experience

what advice would you give a prospective student considering your graduate program?

A student considering a graduate degree in reading and language arts should be dedicated to lifelong learning and to helping students understanding themselves as learners. Pursuing a graduate degree requires hard work, creativity, and a willingness to think in different ways about instruction and students. Students pursuing a graduate degree should have clear goals and the time and stamina to learn in the field. I believe it is also important for someone pursuing a graduate degree to have experience in the field of the degree, in order to take full advantage of the opportunities offered in the program.

what do you like most about your current position?

Benchmark School offers unique opportunities to students and staff. My position as head of the middle school in an independent school is one that provides me with constant opportunities to impact the learning of the adolescents with whom I work. The students are curious and are developing as learners and as people, and my position allows me to help them along that path in exciting ways. I also have numerous opportunities to continue to grow professionally at Benchmark through our inservice program, and through presenting at and attending local and national conferences.