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People of Point Park: Professor Christal Chaney is still on her educational journey

Monday, December 07, 2015

2015 PPP Chaney 2Faculty Spotlight

Position at Point Park: Professor of Education
Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Elementary Education from Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Degree: Certification in American Montessori Society Primary Education from Carlow University; Ph.D. in Educational Philosophy/Early Childhood Education from Pennsylvania State University
Current Hometown: Mt. Lebanon

Sometimes the Path is Clear

Growing up, Christal Chaney always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. While finishing her undergraduate studies, Christal discovered Maria Montessori and the Montessori education program. She continued her studies in education at Carlow University where she received her certification in the Montessori program.

“That began my interest in different philosophies of education because there are so many ways that we can approach children in the classroom,” she said.

She began working at Point Park University 25 years ago after completing her Ph.D., and 15 years ago founded her own private school—The Three Hierarchs Eastern Orthodox School. The school, located in Heidelberg, Pa was Montessori driven and incorporated all of the theories and practices that Christal had learned over the years. 

Inspiration is Everywhere

Christal believes that life is a journey during which she is always seeking inspiration. In education, she is inspired by the figures she has studied, such as Montessori and Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf). Perhaps more significantly, Christal believes that inspiration is available all around us; no matter where she is, whether it be in a classroom or out in the world, she meets people who inspire her.

“A student in class may bring up something that makes me think about something in a different way or see things from a different angle,” she said.

Christal is a self-avowed lifelong learner who is still asking the same questions about teaching children as when she was an undergrad.

What Sets Point Park Apart

According to Christal, one of the benefits of a Point Park education is that students gain practical knowledge and receive training from professors who have real-world experience in their craft. She also believes that students, particularly in the Department of Education, form a strong bond with their professors that helps to create rewarding experiences for the future.

“Every day when students come to class, I try to create an experience for them, whether it’s a discussion or a problem we are solving, (or) an observation when I take them to outside schools with other students,” she said.

Raising Chickens in the Suburbs

Christal lives in Mt. Lebanon with her husband Christopher, and her children Max, Mariel and Emmeline. One year, Max wanted to hatch chickens for a science fair project. They bought the chickens, made the incubator and hatched the chicks. The family decided to keep the chickens for the next four years, having four hens at a time. At one point, they had three generations of chickens living in their backyard.

“It was fun and someday I’ll have chickens again. That’s my thing, I love chickens.”

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