Adjunct Spotlight: Julie Cannizzo

By Rachel Beck –

Leadership is a characteristic seen among all educators, but Dr. Julie Cannizzo’s leadership role exceeds most, as she is both an adjunct professor for FHSU’s Department of Education and a school district administrator.

While teaching, Cannizzo had a principal who asked if she had ever considered pursuing administration. At the time, she had only one semester remaining in her master’s program in curriculum and instruction at Wichita State University. With encouragement from her school’s principal, she switched her degree to administration. “Since then, I’ve never looked back,” she says. “I had been involved in a lot of leadership opportunities. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always seen myself as a leader, but I really enjoyed teaching at the time. I realized I could make an even greater difference in students’ lives by becoming an administrator.”

Cannizzo has led as Assistant Superintendent of the Goddard School District for the last nine years. In this role, she oversees Pre-K through 12th-grade curriculum, assessments, title programs and professional development, among several other responsibilities within the school district. In 2011, after earning her Doctorate at the University of Kansas, she became an adjunct instructor.

She recognizes the value of continuing her role as a teacher on top of administration: “One of the most important things I have always said is when you go into administration, you can’t forget what it’s like to be a teacher. The further you get away from classroom operations and the day-to-day, you can forget just how hard teachers work and how difficult it can be.”

Not only does adjunct teaching provide an opportunity to connect with students and continue learning from them, but it keeps her connected to the practice of classroom instruction. Her experiences as an adjunct professor ensure she remains grounded as an administrator and that she acknowledges the challenges of teaching.

While building a relationship with her students at FHSU, Cannizzo has them submit introductory videos at the beginning of the semester. Within this assignment, students can share pictures of themselves and personal information, like “I’m getting married this year, or I’m expecting a baby, or this is my last semester before graduation,” she says. While watching these videos, Cannizzo will take notes about each student, allowing her to follow up with them later, initiating authentic conversations. “I do this to show them that I do care about them as people – that I’m not just behind a screen, but an actual person, who values and appreciates them,” she says.

This isn’t the only way Cannizzo builds relationships in the classroom. She often makes an optional discussion forum on Blackboard called “Good Things,” where students can share any positive moments in their life. It allows the class to celebrate their own and one another’s personal or professional highlights. Cannizzo finds that this interaction will enable students to feel more comfortable in the course and with her and encourage them to reach out when they have questions.

Outside of teaching and administrating, Cannizzo serves on FHSU’s Adjunct Faculty Advisory Committee. Being on the council is rewarding, as it focuses on enhancing the adjunct teaching experience. “I’ve really enjoyed serving on the council because it’s helped me be connected to the university and feel like I’m a part of it, even though I’m not going there every day,” she says.

Cannizzo prioritizes balancing her professional life and her personal life. While she loves spending time with her family, traveling and supporting the Cheifs and KU basketball, she also values making time for herself. These personal hobbies include working out or reading a book.

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