Last fall, Joanna Schimizzi enrolled in the master’s of edu­ca­tion pro­gram at Northeastern’s grad­uate campus in Char­lotte with one goal in mind: pro­fes­sional development.

I had some gaps in my knowl­edge that I wanted to address,” explained Schimizzi, a biology teacher at the David W. Butler High School in Matthews, N.C. “I didn’t feel like I had enough expo­sure to cur­rent edu­ca­tion research and knew I couldn’t teach myself.”

She focused on edu­ca­tion lit­eracy, taking a com­bi­na­tion of 11 online and face-​​to-​​face courses ranging from teacher devel­op­ment to lin­guis­tics. One of her favorite courses explored culture’s effect on access to edu­ca­tion, social mobility, and per­sonal iden­tity, lessons from which she has already applied to her classroom.

Now,” she said, “I’m more aware of the impor­tance of stu­dent diver­sity and have the tools to help me reach all stu­dents.” One such tool is the dig­ital port­folio, which she imple­mented this fall in order to help her stu­dents “track their achieve­ment and take own­er­ship of their work.”

Schimizzi will grad­uate from the master’s pro­gram on Sat­urday, becoming one of the first two alumni of Northeastern-​​Charlotte. A Mac­Far­land Scholar, she is a thriving example of the university’s ongoing com­mit­ment to training pro­fes­sionals in fields that are vital to the growth of the greater Char­lotte region.

The Char­lotte campus opened in October 2011 and is based on a hybrid delivery model that inte­grates online and class­room learning. Ear­lier this year, the campus launched 10 new degree pro­grams in areas ranging from energy sys­tems to infor­ma­tion assurance—which more than dou­bled the campus’ aca­d­emic offer­ings. Northeastern-​​Charlotte is the first, and only, insti­tu­tion based out­side of North Car­olina that has been approved to offer doc­toral programs—of which North­eastern offers three, including the master’s of edu­ca­tion program.

The hybrid approach is ideal for working pro­fes­sionals like Schimizzi because it com­bines the tra­di­tional ben­e­fits of face-​​to-​​face instruc­tion with the flex­i­bility of online learning, which, she said, enabled her to “interact with people across the nation and around the world.”

Building col­lab­o­ra­tive part­ner­ships has been a key com­po­nent of Schimizzi’s career suc­cess. A few years ago, she launched a men­tor­ship pro­gram in which high school stu­dents dis­cuss their aca­d­emic goals with com­mu­nity members.

It’s not a tutoring ses­sion, but an oppor­tu­nity for stu­dents to talk to someone out­side of their par­ents and teachers,” explained Schimizzi, who was named a 2012 MeckED Teacher of Excel­lence as a result of the program’s suc­cess. “Some stu­dents get lost in the crowd and end up finding sup­port and moti­va­tion by working with a mentor.”

Schimizzi was also selected by the non­profit edu­ca­tion group America Achieves to par­tic­i­pate in last year’s NBC Edu­ca­tion Nation Summit in New York City, which con­vened more than 300 of the country’s thought leaders in edu­ca­tion, gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, phil­an­thropy, and media. But the recog­ni­tion paled in com­par­ison to the joy she derives from fos­tering stu­dent suc­cess, the greatest of which, she said, is “having the oppor­tu­nity to help each of my stu­dents reach their potential.”