Occupation: Kindergarten teacher, Stone Mill ES
Education: Wootton HS (Early Child Development Program), George Mason University
You are teaching in the same school you attended as a child. Did you ever imagine you would come full circle?
I’ve always enjoyed working with kids and did a lot of babysitting and working at summer camps. I knew I really wanted to be a teacher when I got to high school. Wootton has a preschool on site so I signed up for the Early Child Development Program and learned all aspects of teaching. In my senior year, I did an internship at – yes, Stone Mill! After college when I applied for a job, there was an opening at the school and I was hired. It feels great to be back!
What kind of experiences did you have in the program?
In our class, we studied educational theory and instructional strategies so that we could apply our learning in the preschool class. I wrote lesson plans, taught, observed my classmates teaching, and had my own work critiqued. I also helped with snack and free time – everything a regular classroom teacher would do. I did this for two years so I knew exactly what to expect when I started my career.
Do you think the program gave you an edge?
It gave me a huge competitive edge in college and in graduate school. I had more hours of classroom experience when I was at Wootton than I did in the entire four years of college. I wasn’t starting from ground zero like my college classmates who never had this kind of unique experience. It also helped me when applying for the accelerated master’s program. I was competing against other students for a limited number of slots. In the interview, I talked about my experience in high school working with preschool students and writing lessons and I believe this certainly gave me a competitive advantage. I could talk about what really goes on in a classroom and not just educational theory.
You’re a first year teacher. How well did the Early Child Development Program prepare you for this position?
It gave me real-world experience that’s made me a more confident teacher. Whether it’s re-adjusting a lesson, being observed, or acting on feedback from a supervisor, all the things that happen now are things I experienced every day in the high school program. It gave me more time to be a better teacher.
Do you think exposure to careers in high school is important?
Definitely. In college, time is money. So many people stay an extra year because they change majors. Or they go back to school because they can’t find a job or are unhappy with their job. I got to dip my toe in the water before college and knew I had chosen the right field. Some of my friends wasted three years in the wrong major because they didn’t have that exposure. The education and career experience I received in high school has benefitted me in so many ways and I think all students should get the same early edge that I did.