Year of Graduation: 2013
Major(s): Elementary Education
Current Position: Kindergarten Teacher, Annandale Public Schools, Saint Mary's University
Please give a brief description of your current position. I am currently in my third year of teaching kindergarten in the Annandale School District. During my first year of teaching, I taught two sections of half-day kindergarten. This is my second year teaching full day kindergarten and I love it!
What path did you follow to get to your current position? When I started at St. Ben's I had a different career path in mind. During my first semester, I decided I wanted to explore teaching and took an Introduction to Teaching course. After spending some time volunteering in early primary classrooms, I just knew teaching was the right fit for me. I became an Elementary Education Major with an emphasis in Mathematics. With each practicum that I participated in, I began to narrow down what level I wanted to teach. I felt like my true passion for teaching was most apparent while working with younger elementary students. My student teaching experience allowed me to teach in a kindergarten classroom and I fell in love with the energy they had and their love for learning. It was then I began to apply for kindergarten positions!
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career? Spend time in as many classrooms as you can! Volunteer in a nearby school, visit a former teacher, or do a service learning project. In order to know if teaching is the right fit for you, you have to have experience working with students of multiple age levels and abilities. It can be an emotionally wearing position and if your heart is not truly in it for the right reasons, it can be difficult to be the best you can for your students.
What skills are important in your field? The three skills I think are most important include organization, patience, and flexibility. If I am not organized for my day, my students can feel it and it throws off our whole routine. In kindergarten, students are able to be independent if they know where things are located and having organizational skills helps them to do that. With teaching there are many times when patience is necessary. Students can be challenging and teachers have to be patient and work through the obstacles in order to feel a sense of accomplishment! Being flexible allows a teacher to change things for the greater good, regardless of what was on a lesson plan. Sometimes things happen and it is important to be flexible and change a path in order to be successful.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your position? That 'ah-ha' moment when things finally click! Seeing students' confidence blossom is so wonderful. It makes all the hard work worth it. Also rewarding is to see students develop friendships in kindergarten and offer help to those who are different. It is great to see students come together from a variety of backgrounds and collaborate with one another to work towards a common goal.
Most challenging? Sometimes it feels as though your hard work is unappreciated or unnoticed. Students and parents do not always understand how much it takes for a teacher to prepare an activity or to set up the classroom environment. But, it is important to remember that every day I am making a small difference even if I don't feel as though I have reached any of my students.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career? While at St. Ben's I was involved with a number of clubs and activities including JEC, intramural sports, Education Club, etc. In addition, I worked as a Career Assistant in Career Services and learned the ins and outs of building a resume and career development activities. Being part of a leadership group on campus allowed me to collaborate with others and organize events for a large group. Collaborating with others is such an important skill in any career. Also, I studied abroad in Australia and while there, I volunteered in a pre-primary classroom. Having that experience and learning about education in another country was so valuable. My current students love the stories I share!