Faculty Spotlight: Kathy Shoemaker
Kathy Shoemaker is the Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE). What attracted Dr. Shoemaker to the GSE is the diversity and commitment of students here. While serving as a school counselor at Franklin High School, she was a site supervisor for students here at GSE. Dr. Shoemaker worked with GSE while the school was gaining CACREP accreditation for the counseling program.
Beginning her education career with an AAS in Data Processing from SUNY Farmingdale and a BA in Mathematics and Science with a major in Computer Science from Thomas Edison College, Dr. Shoemaker continued to progress in her studies.
“When I decided to go back and get my doctorate to teach the next generation of school counselors, I had the opportunity to work here as a PTL while Dr. Clauss-Ehlers was on sabbatical,” said Dr. Shoemaker.
Earlier in her career, she ran prevention groups for adolescent students considered at-risk. These groups focused on changing beliefs and self-talk and developing skills in goal setting, managing stress, and peer pressure. Dr. Shoemaker’s background in the prevention and working in culturally and socioeconomically diverse schools, helped her identify significant contributing factors besides academics that affect students’ ability to succeed. As a school counselor, Dr. Shoemaker observed the growing stress of teachers and students as standardized testing became a focal point in schools. These experiences along with an expanding interest in neuroscience led to her dissertation research. She taught mindfulness to middle school students with an interest in evaluating the impact on test anxiety and student engagement. What ultimately inspired Dr. Shoemaker’s line of research is her passion for helping all students, but especially those with vulnerable predispositions.
“The more research I did through a neuroscientific lens, mindfulness continued to show up as an effective way of changing the brain in healthy ways; allowing for increased cognitive control, emotional stability, self-acceptance, and empathy. These qualities can enhance students’ ability to take the emotional risks necessary to learn new and challenging material,” said Dr. Shoemaker.
As an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers GSE, part of her focus is keeping current on trends that affect school counseling students as they transition into their careers. To support this effort, Dr. Shoemaker is on the Executive Board of the New Jersey School Counseling Association (NJSCA) and is the current president of the New Jersey Counseling Association (NJCA) Chapter of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES-NJ). She is also an active member of the Traumatic Loss Coalition for Youth of Middlesex County where she actively trains and responds to schools and communities in times of tragedy.
Dr. Shoemaker strives to help her students step outside of their native culture to develop a deeper understanding of different cultural and ethnic realities and learn to advocate for students and families in educational settings. Her line of research complements Rutgers GSE’s mission for Advancing Excellence and Equity in Education.
“To me, teaching Social-Emotional Learning and mindfulness is a social justice issue. When students better understand and manage their own emotions and social interactions. It affects not only their academic success, but it can impact their sense of self in their world and strengthen a positive trajectory into adulthood,” said Dr. Shoemaker.
In her downtime, Dr. Shoemaker enjoys traveling, going to the beach, and spending time with her friends and family. She especially enjoys being in the company of her granddaughters.