GSE News

Alumni Spotlight: Larissa Pahomov

June 6, 2013 - A degree from Penn GSE proved to be the perfect springboard into a successful career for alumna Larissa Pahomov. Pahomov teaches English at Science Leadership Academy (SLA), a Philadelphia magnet school located in Center City Philadelphia. Well known for providing each of its students with a laptop, an inquiry-driven curriculum, and an academically accomplished and diverse student body, SLA is also acclaimed for its incredibly skilled faculty.

After completing her undergraduate degree at Vassar College, Pahomov took a job with a publisher in New York City selling college textbooks, until she realized she wanted a more direct involvement with the process of teaching. Pahomov moved to Germany and worked as a teaching assistant in a high school for a short time, returning to the U.S. to pursue a career in education. 

“I knew that I wanted to come back to the States and become a teacher. But as a college grad with no formal education background, I needed to cover the basics in the classroom,” says Pahomov. “I knew the Teacher Education Program [at Penn GSE] would provide that background as well as specialization in my subject areas. I also knew that I wanted to work in Philadelphia, so it made sense to come back and study in the city where I hoped to find employment. Penn clearly had the best and most intensive program in Philly.”

Students in Penn GSE’s Teacher Education Program(TEP) are immersed in the communities in which their schools are located. The 10-month, full-time M.S.Ed. program begins in July, which allows students to get to know their schools over the summer and begin student teaching in the fall. Those who follow the Secondary Education path spend the summer working in community-based organizations, while students interested in Elementary Education do a study of the neighborhood surrounding the school where they will be student teachers in the fall. 

Shortly after she earned her master’s degree from Penn GSE, Pahomov attended one of Penn’s job fairs, where she met SLA principal and founder Christopher Lehmann. For Lehmann, a degree from GSE was indicative of a skilled teacher.

“When I see Penn GSE,” he explains, “it’s shorthand for someone who is willing to work hard and is thoughtful about their teaching. GSE alumni have been exposed to some of the best examples of teaching and understand learning through inquiry-based models of teaching.” 

Lehmann offered Pahomov her first full-time teaching position at SLA, where she has worked for the past five years.  She currently teaches sophomore and junior English and also advises the Journalism elective, which is responsible for the creation of, an online, student-run newspaper. 

From her education to her professional career, Pahomov’s Penn GSE degree has provided her with innumerable opportunities. “GSE provided me with the tools, the networking, and the opportunity to enter a field I enjoy and can make a difference in.

"It made my professional life possible!”

Classroom photos taken by Allison Dougherty