While I am happily enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, one of the primary reasons I chose HGSE over other graduate programs was the access I would have to other schools within the Harvard system – and even across Boston. HGSE students can cross-register in courses within Harvard’s umbrella, from taking a history class in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to enrolling in an environmental health class at the Chan School of Public Health, and they can also take courses at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Episcopal Divinity School.

I’ve taken advantage of this twice, and both times it has added to my development as an educator. In the fall, I took an undergraduate English course – I am an English teacher, after all – and deepened my understanding of American literature.

This winter, I took a two-week January Term class on Presidential Elections at the Kennedy School of Government with Elaine Kamarck, a veteran of several presidential election campaigns. She also headed President Clinton’s National Performance Review, taught at the Kennedy School for fifteen years, now serves as the Director of the Brookings Center on Management and Leadership… you get the point: She’s an expert in the field and a seasoned instructor. (I still can’t get over being able to take classes with experts like this!)

Class highlights:

  • Learning from fellow graduate students from across Harvard, Tufts, and MIT with backgrounds in law, academia, law enforcement, education, military, foreign government, and finance/business. (Our class was pleasantly cozy with about 20 students.)
  • Hearing from Joe Klein, a preeminent political journalists for Time and a veteran observer of presidential campaigns – this is his 12th! He stopped by on his way up to New Hampshire.
  • Untangling our confusing system of nominating and electing a president.
  • Reading from a list that mixed political science, journalism, and history.
  • Engaging in-class debates about how this history and policy connects to the 2016 election.
  • Organizing and debriefing field trips to New Hampshire to engage in the primary season there. Some of us served as “participant observers” to rallies, town halls, or house parties for Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush while others canvassed for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Jeb Bush, 2016 Presidential Candidate – photo by Mary Reid Munford
Wei and Masahiko
Canvassing for 2016 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders – photo by Wei Luo


 Mary Reid Munford is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing licensure as a high school English teacher. She has worked in schools in New Orleans, Mississippi, Colorado, and southern Africa and is interested in how experiential education can make academics come alive for a wide range of students.