James Madison University

Alumni Highlight - Greg Tidd

B.S. Kinesiology at JMU: Exercise Science Class of 2010
M.A.T. Exceptional Education at JMU: Class of 2011

PHOTO: Greg Tidd

I came to JMU as a transfer student from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007.  During this time, I started to be very interested in the field of exercise science, with the goal of going to physical therapy school after completing my degree.  This was my goal throughout completing my degree until my senior year.  The Kinesiology faculty at JMU was such an asset in helping me choose the right path in order to do what I enjoy.  They worked to help me get a good practicum and internship experience that lead me to my chosen career path today.  While the field of exercise science is still a huge passion of mine, getting people throughout the community more active, I found my passion through my internship experience working with children and adults with disabilities.

Dr. Tom Moran and “Just for Kicks”

Dr. Moran, one of the PHETE professors in the Kinesiology department has a fantastic organization that provides children and adults opportunities to be active in exercise and sports.  He was more than willing to take me,  a random exercise science student, who had no experience working with children and adults with disabilities under his wing.  Throughout my whole internship experience, he kind of just threw me in to running various programs and activities for students with disabilities.  I was also able to go into some classrooms throughout Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  At the end of my eight-week, full time internship, I learned an incredible amount about various physical and cognitive disabilities, how to run an organization, and just all of the work it takes to organize and make programs run smoothly.   In addition to this, I was part of helping Dr. Moran acquire a grant for what is now the Overcoming Barriers program.  I truly could not have asked for a better experience because of what I learned in the short eight weeks.  It was through providing all of these opportunities and getting the chance to work with students with disabilities, that I really found what I wanted to do with my life:  work with the special needs population.  That is what led me to apply to graduate school at JMU for special education. 

Graduate School and Overcoming Barriers

Photo: Greg Tidd

Two weeks after graduating in May of 2010, I started graduate school at JMU in a whole different area:  Special Education.  This was a completely different path than exercise science, but it gave me the opportunity to work with the population I grew to love.  Through the graduate program, I was able to continue my work with Dr. Moran and Overcoming Barriers, doing much of the same work as my internship.  The cool part about this was applying what I was learning to do in a classroom to the programs and activities we set up for Overcoming Barriers.  To this day, I use a lot of what I learned and did with Overcoming Barriers in my classroom.  I am still passionate about being active, but also working with children and adults with disabilities.  Without my experiences during my practicum and internship, I can honestly say that I would not have been so sure about my decision to be a special education teacher.

So, Now What?

It has been almost two years since I graduated from graduate school at JMU in December of 2011.  Right now, I am teaching for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, where I grew up.  This year, I am excited to be teaching Kindergarten through third grade special education.  I work hard to incorporate my passion for exercise science into my teaching, using a lot of what I learned during my time with Dr. Moran and Overcoming Barriers.  Teaching is not where I think my career and path end, though.  My dream is to have my own organization/non-profit for children and adults with disabilities, much like what Dr. Moran has created with Overcoming Barriers.  Right now, I have some preliminary plans in place to make that happen, so I am very excited.  To add to all of my experiences, I started volunteering with Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad as an EMT-B when I finished at JMU.  My plan is to continue school and training to be a Paramedic within the next two years.  I’ve always had a lot of dreams and ambitions and my time at JMU has made all of it possible!