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Aliya Holmes, Ph.D.

Education Professor Embraces St. John’s Mission Through Technology and Service

As the product of four generations of teachers and a father whose favorite hobby was ‘tinkering’ with broken computers, Aliya Holmes, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The School of Education, certainly had a head start on her chosen career path. “My mom said teaching was the hardest but most rewarding job you could have,” said Dr. Holmes, “and helping my dad fix those computers gave me a special feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment. I guess it was inevitable that I discovered a way to combine teaching and technology to shape a professional career I truly love.”

Dr. Holmes, an expert at integrating innovative pedagogical tools into the classroom, joined St. John’s in 2004 as an Assistant Professor of Educational Technology in the Department of Early Childhood, Childhood and Adolescent Education. Previously, she spent more than six years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute promoting professional development to support the integration of technology in classrooms and across content areas.

At St. John’s, Dr. Holmes works closely with pre-service and in-service teachers to create strategies and tools to incorporate into the classroom curriculum. She also helps faculty and students develop electronic and video portfolios for posting resumes, research and other activities online. “When used appropriately, technology enhances the educational experience for both teachers and students,” Dr Holmes says, “but it is not a magical answer. What it does most effectively is open the door to different ways of thinking. Everyday I find myself learning and teaching something new.”

Dr. Holmes’ attraction to St. John’s is more than academic. As a child, she joined her grandparents in visiting homes for senior citizens to serve meals and provide comfort and companionship. Currently, she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, a public service sorority that, among other activities, offers literacy programs for high school girls. After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, she was part of a group that accompanied St. John’s students to help the devastated families in the Ninth Ward of the city. Her devotion to service has extended to visits to Ghana and other nations to assist those most disadvantaged. Dr. Holmes plans to continue her service activities through both University-sponsored programs and organizations with which she has worked in her local community.

“Service has been a part of my life since I was a little girl,” said Dr. Holmes. “Over the years I have also learned the importance of teaching others to help others. I came to St. John’s knowing and feeling very comfortable with its Vincentian mission. It is an institution with a heart, a soul and core values that mirror my own.”