English Teacher Turns to Law

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English Teacher Turns to Law

After 12 years of teaching high school English, Joe Kurt was ready to embark on a second career.

Joe Kurt. ©W&M

Joe Kurt.

By Chris Patrick, staff writer

After 12 years of teaching high school English, Joe Kurt was ready to embark on a second career.

“I really enjoyed teaching, but I felt like I needed a new challenge in life,” Kurt says.

The intellectual rigor and broad impact of law attracted Kurt. Now he’s in his final year at William & Mary Law School and a student in the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC).

While in the VCPC, Kurt will become more familiar with pollution-related policy working on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Midpoint Assessment project.

TMDL is the amount of pollutants that can enter Chesapeake Bay in a day while maintaining water quality. The TMDL is an established number, but with sea level rise this number might be shifting. Kurt will consider how the Chesapeake Bay’s TMDL is changing as well as who will be affected by the change and how.

In addition to making progress on the project, Kurt hopes that he’ll gain a broader understanding of environmental law issues in coastal Virginia in the VCPC.

“I think it’s a really neat opportunity,” says Kurt. “You can kind of know about these issues on the surface if you follow news coverage and things like that, but there’s a lot of complexity to each issue and I wanted a broader education on the whole thing.”

Kurt is a transplant from Chicago living in Virginia Beach with his wife and three kids. After graduation, he plans to stay and work in Hampton Roads. He’s interested in working in environmental law, but is keeping his outlook open and still exploring the possibilities.

“My job requirements are that I’m doing something that I feel passionately about and that contributes some good to the world—the way teaching let me,” Kurt says.

Kurt spent the bulk of his teaching career at Norfolk’s Norview High School. He graduated from Marquette University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in English and education.

An extension partner of Virginia Sea Grant, VCPC at William & Mary Law School provides policy and legal analysis to its partners on coastal resource and community issues in its mission to educate and train the future lawyers and leaders of tomorrow.