Education alumna teams up with Microsoft

With technology a fixture in today’s classrooms, more teachers are exploring new software to assist their students in their studies. One such teacher is Berry alumna Lauren Pittman (09C), who was approached by Microsoft to try out Learning Tools, a program that highlights words on a computer screen to help students with dyslexia become strong readers. Lauren’s students starred in a worldwide campaign to promote the software and told an international audience about their experience. “It’s helped show my students that there is success for them in the classroom and they can be successful readers,” Lauren says. Her classroom success story has been featured in the Washington Post, Ed Tech Magazine and later this year, Good Housekeeping. Lauren is a graduate of Berry’s Charter School of Education and Human Sciences. “What I learned at Berry and what they prepared me for has helped to set the base for my teaching philosophy and how I want to affect children’s lives,” she said.

Berry alumna lands a two-book, two-continent publishing contract.

Alyssa Hollingsworth (13C) has landed a two-book, two-continent publishing contract with Macmillian (U.S.) and HotKey Books (U.K.). Her debut novel, The Eleventh Trade, will hit shelves in fall 2018, with another following in 2019. Alyssa credits much of her writing savvy to her experiences at Berry, where she benefitted from one-on-one instruction from literature and writing professors who took every opportunity to encourage and challenge her. “Berry was a wonderful place to thrive as a writer because I had so much individual attention from my fantastic professors in the English department,” she said.

Her experience at Berry helped her win acclaim in a national essay contest sponsored by the Elie Wiesel Foundation and admission to a prestigious graduate program at England’s Bath Spa University. As a work-based Gate of Opportunity Scholar, she was able to apply what she learned as a writer for the college’s alumni publications, eventually penning a cover feature for Berry magazine. Those experiences deepened her work ethic and instilled a sense of professionalism that’s reflected in her writing. Her first book, about an Afghan boy named Sami who moves to the U.S. after the Taliban take over his country, was inspired by her own observations visiting her sister in Afghanistan.