In celebration of Black History Month, Padua is putting the spotlight on our alumnae of color. This week Kirsten (Patton) Croner ‘02, the founding instructional school leader of The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence (set to open in 2022), participated in our very first Padua Grad Series talk, an online Q&A session with members of our Black Student Union (BSU).
Since graduating from Padua and Neumann University, where she received a B.S. in Sport Management and an M.Ed. in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education, Mrs. Croner has had an amazing career. And...she’s just getting started!
She was able to candidly answer questions from our Black Student Union about everything from her time at Padua and how it impacted her career and life paths, to her experiences throughout her educational career as a black woman in mostly white schools.
“Padua prepared me for college and after," more than even college did. “The level of rigor at Padua was something I expected but didn’t expect it to set me up for success as it has. There’s no question that Padua prepared me. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood exactly how well it prepared me.”
Referencing other successful Padua Alumnae of color, Mrs. Croner made the case that “there is NO limit to what you can do.” She said this is a philosophy she’s embraced her entire life. The truth can be witnessed in that “these women had no idea what the future had in-store for them. I’m in education...my heart is here...my heart is with kids. But we are all where we are for a reason.” And she attributes this success to being part of the Padua sisterhood.
Mrs. Croner told the girls that they will never live a life without some level of conflict, racial or other, even if they choose to attend a historically black college of university (HBCU). You have to “learn to sit in your discomfort,” “determine how it’s affecting” you, and “find your truth,” and then “find a solutions-oriented” path forward. She told them, you cannot be afraid to speak up. And, it’s “the people you surround yourself with,” who will “challenge you to get to the next level.” She attributes the strength of the Padua Sisterhood and her Padua teachers, for preparing her for what she has and continues to experience in her professional and personal life. And she assured the members of the BSU in attendance that this is still the truth at Padua in 2021.
“Standing together now,” Mrs. Croner reflected, is more important than ever. And while her class wasn’t lucky enough to have a BSU, she emphasized that with this great opportunity, there is great responsibility. The girls need to “stand together, bounce ideas off each other, and consider everyone, not just the BSU,” as well as “ everyone’s path prior and during Padua, and where you want to go afterwards.”
“Having a support system like the one you are developing right now with your sisterhood will take you so many places you can’t even envision right now. We are sisters forever. We want to be your sisters too and not just stay encapsulated in what we know. We want to be here for you. We want to help you through the hard times, as well as celebrate your successes. My hope is that by hearing me and my story today that you will want to keep the communication going afterwards. I am of service. I want to serve. Padua has always been near and dear to me.”
In closing, “having a sisterhood like Padua is like no other. When we come Panda Strong, we come Panda Strong.”
As a native Delawarean, Kirsten is committed to positively impacting her community both inside and outside of the classroom. In addition to her professional accomplishments, she continues the Padua tradition of service by volunteering to coach girls’ basketball, as well as sitting on several committees focused on bullying in schools and teacher engagement in the communities they serve.
Currently, Kirsten works as a tutor for Path to Success, a program developed by Delmarva Power (Delmarva Connect) to bring high school juniors and seniors job opportunities upon graduation.
We are SO #PaduaPROUD
of you Kirsten and we can’t thank you enough for sharing your experiences with our students.
More About Kirsten
Kirsten began her professional career in the banking industry and has used that experience in her educational career. In 2010, Kirsten transitioned into her career in education as a classroom teacher supporting various grade levels and students including students in the traditional classroom setting, special education students and English language learners. Since then, Kirsten has held a variety of roles in the education field, including special education case manager and curriculum developer. Kirsten co-wrote several math curriculums focusing on the needs of students classified as Special Education as well as co-writing the math portion for a charter renewal application for the state of Delaware.
After spending seven years in the classroom, Kirsten joined the Teach For America Delaware team as the Manager of Teacher Leadership Development. During this time Kirsten coached, mentored, and developed 20+ novice teachers yearly, and created alignment between TFA and its partner schools. Additionally, Kirsten has experience tracking trends in student and teacher data, implementing social emotional learning standards in the classroom and developing diversity, equity and inclusivity training for teachers.