FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: KRISTINE STILL
It didn’t take Dr. Kristine Still long to realize that a university campus was the place she wanted to call home. That destination seemed a bit in the distance, but opportunity soon came knocking.
When it did, Still didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I was working on my master’s degree in education [at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio] at the time,” recalled Still as her third-floor office in the Cleveland State University Teacher Education Department at Julka Hall overlooked Euclid Avenue. “I loved being on a college campus and knew from the time I was an undergrad at the University of Akron that I wanted to be a professor. Things just materialized a lot sooner that I thought.”
Still, now an associate professor of early literacy, coordinator of the Literacy Education Program and co-director of the Community Learning Center at Cleveland State, started out as a first grade teacher in the Jackson Local School District in Stark County after earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Akron.
That path took a quick turn when Still began pursuing her doctorate.
“My husband, Craig, drove me down to Ashland [University], but there were only programs for administration and my heart was in the classroom,” said Still. “That same day, he drove me to [the University of] Akron where I met with Dr. [Susan] Olson about the curriculum and instruction program. It just so happened that during my second meeting with Dr. Olson I was offered a part-time teaching position. I started teaching at Akron during the summer of 2001. I continued to teach first grade, but I fell in love with being in a college classroom.”
That feeling made Still take a leap of faith. She had 10 years of service as a first grade teacher, but decided to leave it behind.
“I applied for a doctoral fellowship at Akron in the fall of 2003,” said Still. “I quit my job as a first grade teacher. It was a little scary to let go of that day-to-day job security, but I was determined to follow my heart.”
Still would only spend one semester as a fellow before her fortunes changed again.
“Dr. [Lisa] Lenhart [at Akron] was the lead [Principal Investigator] on the Reading First grant and needed someone to take over part of her teaching load,” said Still. “I was hired as a visiting professor starting in January 2004. I stayed at Akron until 2006 when I came to Cleveland State.”
In 2006, Still earned her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a focus on early literacy and technology specialization from Akron. Ironically, Cleveland State Dean of the College of Education and Human Services Dr. Sajit “Zac” Zachariah served as the technology content expert on Still’s doctoral dissertation committee. Zachariah at the time was the associate dean of Akron’s College of Education.
Just two days after receiving her Ph.D., Still began her position as assistant professor at Cleveland State. She earned tenure in 2012.
In addition, Still served as director of the Cleveland Schools Book Fund in her early years at Cleveland State. The program creates libraries in all K-4 classrooms in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and continues to thrive.
“I loved my time at the University of Akron, but I wanted to forge my own path at [Cleveland State],” said Still. “Having Zac come to Cleveland State was a dream come true. It’s the silver lining in this journey.”
5 THINGS ABOUT KRISTINE STILL
Favorite movie: Somewhere in Time
Last concert attended: Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concert at Severance Hall
Favorite TV show: “Downton Abbey”
Favorite food: Popcorn
One thing you don’t know about me is…
• “I love designing small spaces. I like making small spaces look cozy. Being an interior designer could be my second career.”
• “I love to sing.”