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Moving Through Education

Brittany Sorrels

Mary Baldwin College seeks to create strong, intelligent, and compassionate women, women who will be involved in their communities and create a lasting – but not damaging – imprint on society. Ellen Lucius is one of many who impact the development of young women both on and off campus.

Lucius advises undergraduate students in the Adult Degree Program focusing on education specific careers as well as those invested in the Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure program. She recently accepted the role of adjunct professor in addition to her normal duties. This change allowed her to teach the first education practicum courses required of all students in this field.

Her journey in the discipline of schooling did not start here in Virginia. Lucius earned her first and bachelor’s degrees in education at the University of Wisconsin. She speaks highly of her alma mater, “which is truly well thought of in education. It’s sort of the UVA of the Midwest.” The Wisconsin native later moved to Harrisonburg with her husband, a professor at James Madison University, before settling into the city of

This lover of knowledge did not let the moves stop her. She achieved a master’s degree in educational administration and leadership from JMU, and last spring she accepted her fourth degree – another master’s degree from the same school – as a reading specialist.

With this foundation, Lucius was able to not only teach younger students but she also held leadership roles within the learning system as an assistant principal at Waterman Elementary School followed with Head of the Woodland Montessori School in Harrisonburg for four years.

Then, the recession hit. And a new baby arrived, nine years younger than the first.

Her career went on hiatus while she focused on her family. The brief four year lapse created some challenges, and Lucius decided to take her career down a different path. That path was not all that different from her original twenty years’ experience with children. She worked with adults, and instead of teaching she advised.

The choice was practical at first. With recent economic factors and a larger family, the return to work was necessary but delayed. Lucius had left her professional network in Harrisonburg, and she decided to start over here.

The daunting task became enjoyable. She found that she liked the feminist college, the autonomy and flexible scheduling – something that is very important to a mother of two girls.

But Lucius had a few obstacles during the past year at Mary Baldwin.

She arrived at a campus that was undergoing a lot of changes. She was training in the department of education while the school redeveloped the curriculum. These amendments affected her advice, the information she had already given to students, and future graduation schedules.

Then, shortly after becoming comfortable and familiar with her setting, Lucius had to relocate on campus too. She explains that “a lot of different relationships were forming, even just setting up an office was challenging, but this turned out to be a really good fit for me.”

She hopes to continue development in the education aspect of her career at Mary Baldwin College. Content in her current position, and hopefully done with moving for a while, Ellen Lucius will continue to offer knowledgeable advice to various students on campus.

Ellen Lucius at the table where she and her advisees plan togehter.

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