Often when I think about what inspired me to enter the education field, I think about the visions I had for education growing up, how I desired for it to be innovative and interactive with a plethora of opportunities for students to expand their database of knowledge. When the time came in high school to apply for college, I applied to attend only one, Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. After attending an event for high school seniors in November 1999, I was confident Flagler was the college I desired to attend because of its close-knit environment, historical charm, offering of organizations, and the phenomenal reputation withheld by the education department.
When I graduated from high school on June 6, 2000, I was a National Honors Society graduate who had amassed accolades like being mentioned in Who’s Who Among American High School Students and serving as the secretary of Student Council my senior year. In All-Women’s Chorus, I was the second soprano section leader. I had also joined Beta Club my sophomore year and did my best to remain actively involved with service projects. Flagler was impressed with my involvement and accomplishments as well as the dedication I put forth to my studies since middle school (yes, they glanced at the grades I earned as early as sixth grade). On my resume, I mentioned I amassed a national award at a competition for the Future Homemakers of America just before my freshman year of high school, which they also brought up in discussion when I visited.
Initially I desired to pursue a degree in secondary English Education, yet I realized after a very short time I desired to teach intermediate elementary students. As the semesters passed, I gained confidence and began applying my creativity in original ways. The classes were challenging, interesting, and never had more than twenty-five students. Everyone was very close, and our professors were almost always available to answer any questions we had. My favorite classes were Methods courses– Methods of Language Arts, Methods of Math, Methods of Arts, and Methods of Science/Social Studies. Since we had to broaden our horizons and take a variety of courses in the education spectrum as well, I loved my Mild and Moderate Learning Disabilities class. The teachers who taught the courses I just mentioned– Dr. Michele Gregoire and Dr. Sandra Davis– served as phenomenal inspiration. Besides that, Dr. Paul Crutchfield’s classes– Curriculum and Applied Linguistics– broadened my curiosity knowledge. I had always been somewhat of a “grammar nerd”, but I was even more vested in sentence diagramming after taking the Linguistics class my junior year.
We had to apply what we learned as well, which is required for all education majors. That was the aspect of my college years that caused me to grow the most. Starting my sophomore year, I had to head out to schools weekly to complete practicum hours, which at first I did not take seriously. The ratings I received from my first observing teacher were sub-par. Yet as time passed, I became passionate about my “field opportunities”. I was able to assist a first grade girl with Down’s Syndrome, writing a book and recording sight words for her to listen to. I worked with a first grade boy who was classified as ESL (English as a Second Language) and a fifth grade class for my Methods of Math practicum. Probably my favorite experience of all was my practicum in an elementary art classroom, where I pretty much saw second and fifth grade classes every week. Outside of that requirement, I remember heading to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind a few times as well, which was one of my very best college experiences.
A few of the projects I completed were–
- Creating a mini-unit for fifth grade students that tied together camping and math
- Designing and making my own instrument
- Using a program called HyperStudio to make an interactive page about Thomas Alva Edison
- Compiling hands-on lesson and project ideas into a binder
- Writing and publishing a children’s book using templates from Studentreasures
Attending Flagler was also a wonderful social experience. Living on campus all four years, we participated in door decorating contests and tie-dyed shirts. Also, one of my most treasured memories was when the students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind trick-or-treated through the dorm hallways for Halloween. Halloween was an event all its own– there would be a “Midnight Breakfast” held in the Dining Hall the morning of November 1st with costume contests and all other kinds of festivities. At Christmas, the deaf education majors would perform in the rotunda for the tree lighting ceremony. There were also some wonderful forums, theatrical performances, and concerts held on campus. Also, the organizations offered are broad– I was a member of Kappa Delta Pi and Alpha Chi as well as religious organizations.
On April 24, 2004, I graduated fourteenth in my class of approximately 400. A little more than a month later, I was hired as a fourth grade teacher at a rural elementary school in my district, where I remained for nine years, and now I am entering my second year as a fifth grade gifted teacher at one of our district’s K-8 schools. When I look back at my college experience and my decade of teaching, I cannot emphasize enough how essential it is to stay true to yourself and follow your hopes and dreams.