Join guest host Gary Langsdale as he interviews Rachel Kuper, URMIA’s new learning specialist. Gary and Rachel talk about her experience as a former Latin teacher at the secondary level, what she is studying in her master’s program at Wilkes University, and what she hopes to bring to the table at URMIA.
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Rachel Kuper- Learning Specialist, URMIA
Gary Langsdale- Education Manager, URMIA
Gary Langsdale: Rachel, welcome to URMIA. You've been here for how long now?
Rachel Kuper: Uh, hi, Gary. Uh, I've been here since May, the end of May/start of June.
Gary Langsdale: Of 22?
Rachel Kuper: 22. Yes. Time has flown by.
Gary Langsdale: So, so you are here now as our learning specialist. Talk to me a little bit about your background, about, you know, what you've done and, and where you've been in your education, that sort of thing. It's probably a member institution, that you went to.
Rachel Kuper: Yes. Uh, I think both of them are actually. So, uh, yeah. Right before I came to URMIA, I was a middle school and high school Latin teacher for about eight or nine years, both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Uh, I graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania with my degree in Latin in Ancient Greek. You know, who knew that would be useful? Uh, and it was for eight or nine years or so. Uh, and I'm currently getting my master's degree in instructional technology from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania as well.
Gary Langsdale: So, okay. Well, that's, that's great. So, so Rachel, where do you live?
Rachel Kuper: Uh, so I live in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. So, I'm right on the border of PA and NJ. Literally just a stone’s throw away from New Jersey.
Gary Langsdale: Okay. So, I understand you're married and, uh, wasn't yesterday your first wedding anniversary?
Rachel Kuper: Yes. Yes, actually, yeah. So, Halloween was our, our first wedding anniversary. Uh, and it was awesome. It was a very cool way to celebrate with all, all the trick or treaters and the costumes.
Gary Langdale: Uh, were you dressed up? Were you guys dressed up?
Rachel Kuper: Uh, yeah. Yeah. So, I, I dressed. Stuff as my, my dog was a dinosaur, so we got him a little dinosaur costume. Uh, my husband dressed up as like a prisoner, you know, it. It's very, very fun. And then I, I dressed up as Jessica Rabbits. I just dyed my hair red, and I was like, why not? Let's, I don't need a wig for this costume. There you go. So, we we're big on Halloween in our household.
Gary Langsdale: Okay, so, you're a dog person. As opposed to a cat and one of those evil cat people.
Rachel Kuper: Well, well, I, you know what? I love dogs and cats. My neighborhood as a bunch of stray cats and I'm the neighborhood lady that feeds all the stray, stray cats in our neighborhood. But yeah, I, I'm a big dog person.
Gary Langsdale: Okay. Well, talk about how your background is going to impact your work as URMIA’s, uh, learning specialist.
Rachel Kuper: Sure. So, uh, I think I can definitely bring and have brought since the end of May in June of my experience in education, and particularly my experience in like virtual education and virtual instruction, because of, uh, the, as a result of the pandemic, my high school that I was at, we had to transition as did many other schools in the country from, uh, in person learning to virtual/hybrid learning at a moment's notice. Sometimes it was just, simple email from a Friday to a Monday saying, well, we're going back to this mode. Get ready. You know, so, I really learned a lot, uh, kind of out of the frying pan into the fire that way about the best ways to help my students at that time. Uh, you know, learn when we were so used to in person learning. Um, and also, I'm currently a student myself too. I'm a little bit more than halfway through my master's program and it's completely virtual, asynchronous programming. Uh, so I'm bringing a lot of my experience from that as well.
Gary Langsdale: So, Rachel, I, I've just gotta ask. I could, I value your background as a teacher. I really enjoyed my years in school. Um, I, I don't know that I would have the patience for teaching, but, but how can you teach Latin in a virtual setting? I imagine the kids who sign up for Latin, it's an elective. So, they're, they want to, they, they, at least at in August, thought they wanted to take Latin. Yeah. How do you, how do you motivate them when they're online?
Rachel Kuper: Yeah, so that was a really, uh, I'll say a unique challenge because I had only been at my new school district for about a month and a half before the pandemic hit. So, I hardly knew my, my students that I was teaching, you know, I just had gotten to know them. We just had developed a rapport and then the pandemic hit, and it was like see you in September. So yeah, transitioning to virtual teaching was a big challenge. And like you said, learning- those students who take Latin, it's because they really want to be there. It's not everyone's first choice of language, which I understand, as a Latin- former Latin teacher, I understand that. Um, but you know, you really had to learn a lot of games that could work well virtually. So, I had to. Um, acclimated with like a lot of virtual technology that end up did, translating well to the in-person classroom as well. So online gains were a really big hit in my classroom. Like, uh, I'm sure everyone's familiar with Kahoot, that's the big one. Uh, we did a lot of Quizizz, we did Quizlet, tons of different varieties of those today. Uh, so, you know, and I would, you know, love the opportunity to just explore all the different educational games of my students and sometimes they would bring them to me. So, I think that was a big, uh, part of getting my students engaged was those educational games. And I think even like adult learners still enjoy a good educational game. If you attended my trivia night at the annual conference, you know, I love a good virtual game,
Gary Langsdale: Well, there is a reason why I was asking these questions about you, your skills as a Latin teacher, Rachel, you've, you've found at URMIA that in addition to having in person experiences like the annual conference and the regional conferences. We do a lot of webinars and community conversations online. Um, talk a little bit about, you know, what you've thought of the ones that you've been involved in so far. Mm-hmm. and how you see this going to the next level, if there is a next level.
Rachel Kuper: Sure. Yeah. So, it's been, you know, I've learned so much at URMIA the past few months. Uh, we've done, like you said, webinars on, On24 and Zoom. We've done a lot of community conversations. I'm part of the Compliance Champions and, uh, we've done a lot of higher ed m round tables. And while I am certainly not the expert on risk management, I thoroughly admit that in, you know, in the company of great risk managers, uh, I definitely think that, uh, the virtual learning experiences that we've created at URMIA are awesome. And just the way people respond to them are really, really awesome. Um, you know, there's a lot of first timers, and I had a lot of newcomers during the, the Virtual Annual conference as well too, who were saying, I'm so glad that you, you thought of us being there. You know, like they felt they were still included in the experience. And I, I think that, you know, I tried to bring in, you know, the same feeling that my students had at the start of the pandemic. They felt kind of kind of outta sorts a little bit. They weren't included necessarily because you know, the pandemic was so isolating, especially at the start. So, I was like, how can we make everyone feel like they are still in included, even if you can't be there in person? So, I feel like that's kind of the attitude URMIA tries to bring and I try to bring to our virtual and hybrid learning experiences.
Gary Langsdale: Oh, that's great. Thanks. Um, so coming from the outside and having no prior knowledge of risk management, you had the opportunity to participate in the annual conference? Both the virtual and, and the in person. Mm-hmm. As a, as someone who was dropped into the middle. Parachuted in for your first URMIA conference, what'd you think?
Rachel Kuper: Oh, it was, it was a blast. Oh my gosh. Uh, I brought my husband along as well too, and Indianapolis was such a, a great city and. I had never had the, it was my first business trip really ever. So, I had never had the good fortune of traveling for business, and it was a great time. I, I met so many, uh, so many awesome people. I finally got to meet a lot of my colleagues in person for the first time too, from URMIA. Uh, and you know, I was watching about three sessions at a time on the virtual end, on, On24. So, I feel like I got a lot, a little bit about like, uh, education with minors and international and e RM all simultaneously. So, while I'm, you know, I don't, you know, feel qualified enough to speak on risk management, I definitely, yeah. I've learned so much since starting. Oh my gosh, definitely crash course.
Gary Langsdale: Was, was there one thing that struck you about the annual conference?
Rachel Kuper: Uh, just how excited everyone. To be there. I would say there is a great like, enthusiasm for risk management at the higher education level, and that's, that's really cool to see.
Gary Langsdale: Did so, so when you were going to college and even now working on your masters, did, did you ever, did risk management ever cross your mind?
Rachel Kuper: It might sound a little silly. I didn't even know it was a career, you know, but from, you know, I do a lot of behind the scenes work on the podcast. It's kind of funny being interviewed, but I hear a lot of people from the podcasting that it's a field that they fell into and not, you know, it’s certainly a field I fell into. So now I didn't, did not know it was a field, but it's amazing how many different areas of education it touches, you know? It really does. Or just life in general at any company. You know, I, I had no idea as someone who planned a wedding last year, like all the, you know, I hear about the risks that are involved with event planning and things like that. You know, what types of insurances to get. I think, oh, oh my God, that was all happening behind the scenes and I didn't necessarily know about it. So, it's, it's kind of, all of that thought goes into something that you just, you're not aware of. You know.
Gary Langsdale: I'm, I'm sure when you were at Bryn Mawr, you didn't do anything unsafe or unhealthy while you were there.
Rachel Kuper: No, no, no. small, small women's college. Very, but, but very studious.
Gary Langsdale: I'm sure you were well behaved and never ran into the risk management.
Rachel Kuper: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I, no, But, uh, now I know there is a risk manager at Bryn Mawr and at Wilkes too.
Gary Langsdale: Okay. Great. So, um, Rachel, are there any big projects or things that you are thinking of based on what, you know, in the, in the first nine months that you've been here? Um, that, that you're, that you think are the future or that you'd like to work on or planning?
Rachel Kuper: Well, I'm, you know, we are currently reporting this in Baltimore, the place for our next annual conference. I'm really excited about the fact of, you know, just bringing the experience that I learned from this first annual conference in Indianapolis to Baltimore and kind of, you know, just really hype up and amp up the virtual learning experience, uh, you know, and just really try and find engagement activities to make everyone feel like they are a part of the conference, even if they can't be there physically, in person. So, I think that's, that's a big goal of mine and I'm really excited to just continue with, uh, the webinars, podcasts, community conversations, and, you know, try, and make everyone feel like, you know, even though we're all in different areas of the country, we can all still kind of gather and bring our input and have a lot of fun together and learn at the same time.
Gary Langsdale: Well, that's, that sounds great. So let me, let me ask a couple more questions. Do you have a favorite ice cream flavor, actually?
Rachel Kuper: Oh, Any, Anything with peanut butter? I would say yes. Okay. I'm a big peanut butter person.
Gary Langsdale: Okay. And, and I think I know the answer to this, but for the, for the listening audience, tell us about your favorite color.
Rachel Kuper: My favorite color is pink. Uh, I don't have, I have pink hair right now, but when I applied to URMIA I did, and I did for about a year. And in fact, Gary has my resume in front of me and it is a very Elle Woods pink. So, so, yes. And then if you, uh, had the, uh, fortune of visiting my little setup at the annual conference in Indianapolis. All of my tech gear, my mouse, my keyboard headphones, it was all tank
Gary Langsdale: Oh, that's great. Anything else that, uh, that people out there ought to know about you? Rachel?
Rachel Kuper: Uh, you don't never be afraid to reach out. Um, I have so much to learn from everybody at URMIA and, you know, I like to. Everybody learn as much as possible too. So just always reach out to me if you have a question. Uh, if you just wanna talk, I'm, I'm really excited to help build the learning experience for such a great organization.
Gary Langsdale: That's great. Okay. Well, I look forward to working with you during the rest of my time. And, and, uh, I, it's been great to, to work with you so far, Rachel. I'm so glad that you're here. I think that your presence and the skills that you bring, about learning design and um, that sort of thing will be a great benefit to URMIA to make our programs even better going forward. So, thank you for being here. Thank you to our audience. And that's a wrap on another episode of URMIA Matters. Thank you.