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Teacher Education| Selected Student Profiles

Lorraine Magee, BA Student, Elementary Education

Why did you choose the BA Elementary Education program at American University?
I chose the BA Elementary Education program at American University because of its ability to give me the skills and experience I need to help students build a foundation for learning. Through small class sizes, lots of hands-on experience, and opportunities for collaborative work with professors, I feel that the program has truly prepared me for a future career in the education field. The Elementary Education program has helped me find my strengths, my areas for improvement, my interests, and my passions. I'm so lucky to have been supported by amazing professors and advisors every step of the way.

Have you worked on any assignments or research projects that you would like to highlight?
During my sophomore year, Professor Susan Jaffe helped me to take on an additional project for her Foundations of Reading Instruction class. I did a research project about family literacy and Professor Jaffe was so helpful in providing me with examples of real-life work she had done in the field. The articles I read for the project were so interesting that I'm making literacy the research topic of my senior year Capstone in the University Honors Program.

Another highlight of my Elementary Education experience was being given the opportunity to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark for a semester. SOE professors were so helpful in writing recommendations and advising me on my applications for scholarships, and I never would have been able to go without the support of the SOE staff. In Denmark, I was able to spend a semester in a Danish public school and tutor at an international school. Even during my semester abroad, SOE was unlocking opportunities for me that I never thought were possible.

What is your current job/internship? 
I'm currently completing my semester as a Practicum Intern at Bethesda Elementary. I'm in a 5th grade classroom where we are reading some of my favorite books, like The City of Ember and Number the Stars. My cooperating teacher is supporting me as I teach reading groups and math warm-ups and I am gaining experience that I will need during my Student Teaching semester and beyond. 

Where do you see yourself in the future? 
After taking Professor Jaffe's Foundations of Reading Instruction class, I decided that my long-term goal is to go to graduate school for certification as a Reading Specialist. Until then, I see myself working as a classroom teacher, hopefully in the 3rd or 4th grade, utilizing the myriad of skills I have learned throughout the BA in Elementary Education program. 

Brett Imamura, BA Student, Secondary Education

Why did you choose to pursue BA in Secondary Education for Social Studies at American University?  
I chose to pursue a BA in Secondary Education at AU because I want to empower students through a close investigation of the past so that they will be able to make informed decisions and have evidence-supported opinions as citizens in the United States and in a globalized world.

Have you worked on any assignments or research projects that you would like to highlight? 
One assignment that I worked on was a service learning experience at Woodrow Wilson High School in DC working with special education students. From this experience, I learned that making history relevant to the lives of students is the best way to convey more difficult historical themes. In this fashion, all students have the same opportunity to contribute and learn.  

What is your current job/internship? 

I am currently conducting my practicum at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. 

Where do you see yourself in the future? 

In the future, I see myself leading a cooperative and interactive classroom that demonstrates social studies as more than a series of dates and facts, but one that focuses on the opinions and stories of those who came before us.

Daniela Silver, MAT Student, Early Childhood Education

What is your academic/professional background prior to coming to AU?
My undergraduate degree is in Therapeutic Recreation from Temple University. During college, I had an internship with the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado. After I graduated, I moved to Crested Butte and began working as a preschool teacher. I always looked forward to work in the morning and left at the end of the day knowing that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in education and become an expert in the field.

Why did you join the MAT in Early Childhood Education program at American University?
I wanted to attend a school that valued diversity and community. It was the warm faculty and students, the interesting coursework and field-based teaching opportunities that really made me want to attend. I am also in awe of the many accomplishments from the faculty who truly take the time to get to know you. American University also has great connections with many different schools in the area and there are many opportunities for jobs post graduation.

Have you worked on any specific assignments or research projects so far that you would like to highlight?

In my Effective Teaching for Diverse Learners course, each student had to present a different instructional strategy. It was clear how much everyone enjoyed seeing the personal touches and varying techniques utilized for each presentation. Now I have twenty-one different instructional strategies in my teacher toolbox! I also loved working on an alternate text assignment for my Children's Critical Literacy course taught by Dr. Vivian Vasquez. We had to highlight a social issue from a selected book using a social justice perspective. This class highlighted the importance of integrating multiculturalism and diversity in my classroom through assignments, literacy, and curriculum.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

As a future Early Childhood Educator. I see myself weaving my personal passions, like yoga, multisensory methods, and theater, into the effective teaching techniques I have already learned at AU, such as differentiated instruction, incorporating multiculturalism into my curriculum, and cultivating a community within the classroom. I can't say for sure where I'll be teaching, but I already feel as though this program is preparing me with the skills to succeed in variety educational settings.

Mustafa Nusraty, MAT Student, Secondary Social Studies

What is your academic/professional background prior to coming to AU?
Before coming to AU, I worked on Capitol Hill as an aide in both the House of Representatives and Senate. After leaving Capitol Hill, I went to work in the DC Public Charter School Board where I worked in operations and new school monitoring and development.

Why did you join the MAT in Early Childhood Education program at American Unversity?
I decided to pursue my MAT because I had a long overdue realization that working with kids made me happy, offices made me miserable and that I enjoyed sharing and cultivating a passion for civics and history than working in it day to day. American had a remarkable program with an ideal schedule. Any other choice would've been the wrong one.

What is your current job/internship?

I am currently conducting my practicum at Edmund Burke School, a private coeducational, college-prep secondary school with a focus on progressive pedagogy. At Burke I work with 8th, 9th, and 10th grade history classes on topics that range from American History to Asian Studies. The different instructional techniques and small size of the school make it different from any other type of education experience I've ever had.l

Where do you see yourself in the future?
I see the years ahead of me as happy and productive ones. The experience from my Practicum and advice from and guidance from in-service teachers who serve as professors have been invaluable in answering questions and providing insight. I'm not sure where I'll be in the future but I am sure that I'll be teaching and because if AU I'll be ready wherever I land.

Brian Riley, MAT Alumnus, Elementary Education

Why did you join the MAT in Elementary Education program at American University?
The motto "Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle" certainly applies in my case. I moved to Washington, DC in the Fall of 2003 to attend AU in the School of Public Affairs. Over the course of my undergraduate experience, I was exposed to a number of engaging and exciting courses in education through the General Education requirements. Through courses such as Schools and Society with David Sadker and Educational Psychology with Lynn Fox, I was able to recognize that my future was in education, and not in government. I enjoyed my undergraduate experience so much, that I decided to stay in Washington, DC and continue my studies in the School of Education.

Could you tell us about some of your experiences while at AU?

There were so many experiences that I had at AU that not only challenged me intellectually, but also forced me to examine where my greatest impact would be. I arrived in the School of Education with few experiences actually teaching children. I had some experience working in summer camps, but quickly came to the realization that being a camp counselor was much different from being a teacher. One class that truly began to challenge me was the Children's Literature: A Multicultural Approach course taught by Vivian Vasquez. The course forced me to understand the importance of a child's background in their learning and provided me with concrete strategies and resources to ensure that I was prepared to take on that responsibility when I entered my first year of teaching.

Once my course work was wrapped up, I had two amazing experiences in two different District of Columbia Public Schools. I was able to work with teachers and staff at both Horace Mann and Key Elementary Schools to put my studies into practice and begin working directly with children each and every day.

How did your career evolve after completing your Masters at AU?

SOE was certainly instrumental in helping me find a teaching position after I graduated. Through their field placement office, I was placed at Key Elementary school in a fifth grade classroom to complete my student teaching. After graduation, I interviewed and was offered a job at Key as a third grade teacher. In the past five years I have had an amazing experience working with some of the most talented and dedicated teachers in all of DC each and every day. Through continued professional development I have taken great interest in examining effective teaching strategies in the areas of reading and writing and how those two disciplines are intertwined.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to share my experiences in the classroom through the Teaching Language Arts methods course for undergraduates in the School of Education that I am teaching this semester. It's been such an amazing experience engaging with future colleagues around how we can continue to help students reach their potential.

How do you see the years ahead of you?
I definitely see myself in the field of education for life. I am someone who is deeply interested in continuing to grow as an educator and would like to some day be a school principal. I've also enjoyed talking about my teaching experiences and passing on knowledge to future teachers through both the Teaching Language Arts course at AU as well as supervising student teachers from other DC universities.

Josh Halpren, MAT Alumnus, Secondary Education

Why did you choose the MAT in Secondary Education program American University?

I started off in American's School of Public Affairs studying Political Science and pursuing a Certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies from the SPA Leadership Program. I had always had an interest in education and had really wanted to be a teacher my entire life. While other kids had imaginary friends I had an imaginary teaching assistant by the name of Mrs. Lavender who did all of my grading (if only!) while I taught my stuffed animals about the three branches of government. Somewhere along the way though I convinced myself that I wouldn't be a good teacher and that it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. But after working with students in the Gay-Straight Alliance at Woodrow Wilson High School as part of the Leadership program, I knew I needed to be in the classroom to really come alive and be the best I could be.

Do you have any courses, assignments or research projects that you would like to highlight?

Marilyn Goldhammer's Schools and Society and Psychology of Education classes were by far the most influential factors in my choosing to pursue a Secondary Education major. Professor Goldhammer takes the time to get to know each of her students and models what it means to be a high-quality educator in every session of her class. She pushed me to think critically about my school experience and how these experiences could translate into my work as an educator. Throughout my first year of teaching, she has remained an invaluable friend and mentor. I also cannot speak about my SOE experience without mentioning my social studies methods classes with the incomparable Amy Trenkle. Amy's passion and enthusiasm for teaching is unmatched and infectious. While teaching practical methods to succeed as a Social Studies teacher, Amy also built a community of education students that has provided me with some of my closest friends.

Is there any information you would like to share about your Practicum or Student Teaching Experience?

My student teaching experience at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland really gave me an opportunity to take on the responsibilities of a classroom teacher. While I was only required to take over for two weeks, I ended up taking over two Honors U.S. History classes and a Law elective class for nearly three months. While at times this was stressful and challenging, the trust that Whitman placed in me gave me the freedom to experiment with a variety of methods I still use in my classroom.

What is your current job?

I am currently a Sixth Grade World Studies Teacher at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland. I primarily teach an advanced and accelerated Ancient Civilizations and Historical skills curriculum for sixth graders in our Humanities and Communication magnet program. I also teach one section of World Studies 6 for students recently exited from ESOL programs. I also sponsor Eastern's National History Bee team with six students going on to the DC Regional finals.

Stephanie Conant, MAT Alumnus, Elementary Education

What is your academic/professional background prior to coming to AU?
Before I decided to become an elementary school teacher, I was an AmeriCorps and FoodCorps service member in Iowa.

Why did you join the MAT program at American University?
I decided to join the MAT program at American University because I was impressed with the faculty, staff, and students. Right from the beginning, the department was very responsive to all of my inquiries and made me feel very comfortable. I also liked the breadth, depth, and subject matter of the curriculum. I needed to gain a strong foundation in courses on education, child psychology, reading, language arts and writing, math, social studies, and science. The course in Children's Literature: A Critical Literacy Perspective with Dr. Vivian Vasquez and the course titled Overview of All Exceptionalities: The Arts in Special Education with Dr. Alida Anderson were especially interesting to me. Finally, I think that the emphasis the faculty and staff put on student placement and networking is an especially strong element of the Masters program.

Have you worked on any assignments or research projects that you would like to highlight?
First, I was able to participate in a food study project in the Washington D.C. and Arlington, VA schools with students in the Health Promotion program. Second, in my Critical Literature class, I was also able to complete a personal inquiry project on food and gardening books for children in the Fairfax County Public Library system. Finally, in my Overview of All Exceptionalities: The Arts in Special Education, I was able to visit the Lab School in Washington D.C., and learn about the positive effects of arts integration on student learning and development. In the future, I hope to incorporate elements of arts integration into my classroom.

What is your current job/internship?
I am currently one of the graduate assistants for the Teacher Education Department in the School of Education. I help to recruit new students and answer prospective student questions. I am also completing my Practicum experience at Key Elementary School, in Washington D.C. This spring, I will be student teaching in Fairfax County.

Where do you see yourself in the future?
I look forward to many years of teaching in the D.C. metropolitan area.



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