Education Department Spotlight
A recent alum, Douglas Weir ’14 is already immersed in an environment that many lifelong career professionals never have the opportunity to experience.
Weir was recently promoted from assistant principal to principal at St. Paul American School’s STEM Program in Shanghai, China. “My minor in secondary education, as well as the mentorship of professors such as Dave Powell and Kaoru Miyazawa, helped me to feel confident in the classroom, secure my pedagogical philosophy, and eventually feel capable enough to pursue a leadership role in school administration,” he said.
In addition to this administrative role, Weir serves as the lead social studies teacher, specializing in both United States and World history. “The most rewarding part of my career is working so closely with students from all over the world,” Weir said. “The diversity of their skills, goals, and learning styles makes my job so interesting every day.”
Weir frequently travels to places such as Seoul, South Korea, Beijing, China, and the Philippines to meet with other school leaders. His students come from countries such as Korea, China, Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain, the United States, Botswana, and the Philippines—and Weir is exposed to cultural diversity each day. He credits his passion for global learning and his ability to navigate cultural nuances to Gettysburg’s renowned study abroad experience.
“The way the College made studying abroad so painless and useful definitely aided in my decision to work abroad,” he said. “Without such an experience, I would have never been able to find the courage to move somewhere halfway around the world for my career.”
Durr currently works as an art therapist at the Center for Autism in Philadelphia,PA.
At the Center for Autism in Philadelphia, Katie Durr ’14 makes a difference in the lives of children who are visibly suffering each day. She has witnessed non-verbal children learn to speak and violent children learn to safely request attention—actions that were previously considered impossible by medical professionals. “I have gotten so many crying phone calls of people thanking me because their child has learned to look at them, or say thank you to them, and a million other little things in between,” Durr said. “Those moments make the hard parts worth it.”
In addition to her full-time job at the Center for Autism, Durr also works at the Creative Healing Center, where she is a primary art therapist for teens suffering from trauma and other mental health difficulties.
Being an art therapist was a dream that came true because of the interdisciplinary studies program at Gettysburg College. Her personalized major, “Therapeutic Visual Arts Studies,” gave her exposure to classes she would take in post-undergraduate education. “I believe that Gettysburg gave me a leg up over my [graduate school] classmates, some of whom had never written a research paper before,” Durr said. “I am not sure I can even put into words how grateful I am to Gettysburg for making me the person I am today.”