WE BELIEVE in Academic Excellence, and Dr. Christy Petroze, née Mariani, indirectly will have helped spread this belief to millions of people when her mission is complete. As the Department of Education Chairperson at Thomas More College, Dr. Petroze trains and sets programming for future teachers. Ultimately, her pupils pass on this standard of excellence to their students, who will pass it on to others, who will pass it on to others, and so forth.
In direct correlation with developing teacher training at Thomas More College, she has been put in a position in which she has to tell her students if they can or cannot continue on the path to becoming a teacher. “I won’t compromise quantity over quality,” she says, referring to the high expectations she places upon her college students. This is a tough job, but her philosophy has led to an astounding 100% employment rate for her four year students or teacher hopefuls. As the catalyst of a ripple effect that will continue throughout the educational field in the Northern Kentucky area for years to come, Christy humbly credits those along the path of her journey who set all this in motion.
In 2006, Christy earned her Doctorate of Education Degree (Ed. D) from the University of Kentucky and has since been at Thomas More College. Earning the prefix “doctor” is impressive in itself, but that title is just at the surface of Christy’s journey. The entire process of the degree took her six and half years while commuting from Northern Kentucky to Lexington multiple times during the week for her evening classes, teaching middle school students English by day, and mothering three children at home. The term “doctor” should not be taken lightly. “It took a lot of disciple and no sleep!” she mentions reminiscently.
Throughout all of this, she did not sacrifice the well-being of her own children. “There were four women on the committee at UK, and their support saw me through. They did not allow me to put off family.” The traditional route of this degree would take about ½ of the time, but Christy was determined to keep her priorities in line and stay faithful to her family and students, no matter how long it would take. Only 1% of women who start their doctorate actually complete it. Christy is proud to be part of this small percentage and hopes her story impacts young women aspiring to higher education like those did for her.
Christy’s inspiration for becoming a teacher for 14 years and then a Doctor can be traced back to her time at Newport Central Catholic where she sat in the classrooms of two other inspirational women, Pam McQueen and Amy Colston-Gurley. “They were truly a part of what made me continue my pursuit for higher education. They made me feel like an adult and set expectations that were high and challenging.” Dr. Petroze specifically recalls being pulled aside and encouraged by both to become an English teacher.
Ultimately, she took their advice, but she recalls several other high school experiences that gave direction to her now passion. While at NCC, Christy took part in a junior service work educational program in which students would venture into the “real” world to get hands on experience in fields that interested them. She was placed in the educational field and found herself among fifth graders in Mrs. Tarvin’s classroom at St. Thomas School. While helping teach Where the Red Fern Grows, she recalls for the first time working directly with students, and she felt her fate was sealed. She fell in love with working with students. Furthermore, after attending a college-career day in high school, she decided to sit at the 5-8 teachers table, and her career choice was even more justified.
Despite graduating from Newport Central Catholic in 1992, earning a B.A. from the University of Kentucky in 1996, a M.Ed. from Northern Kentucky University in 1999 and the Ed. D from the University of Kentucky in 2006, Dr. Petroze still finds herself in school, and she would not have it any other way. She loves teaching, and though she has her hands in so many things including serving on seven different committees and multiple school boards, she always keeps the children in the classroom in mind. “If the work I am doing is not impacting K-12 students,
I refocus and get back to work that counts,” she proudly says.
This grounded mentality is tough considering her involvement with high profile committees and meetings in Frankfort at the State Government level, at times involving the presence of the Governor. In addition to representing teachers in government, here she works to create new teacher preparation programs by taking feedback and data from current programs impacting K-12 students reacting to teachers in training.
In a life defined by meetings with high profile constituents, Christy always keeps the children in the classroom in mind, along with her children in her home. Nick and Anna Petroze are students following in their mother’s footsteps at Newport Central Catholic, while her son Vinny is studying at St. Therese School. Her involvement in these two schools extends well beyond just sending her kids there. She serves on both school boards and gives great insight into the Academic Realm. Additionally, she is currently working with Newport Central Catholic teachers in the realignment of curriculum to specific, high standards.
Christy’s focus on her purpose of educating children with high academic standards is unshakable. Though she is no longer in the classroom, she is improving the educational experiences of students in a much stronger way.
The NCC community is thankful for Christy's representation as an alum and as a life-long supporter.