Secondary Education (English, social studies, math, biology chemistry, and physics)
English for Speakers of Other Languages (K-12)
Graduate Student and Alumni Profiles
Bender Caiola, MAT Secondary Education: Social Studies
What is your academic/professional background prior to coming to AU?
Before attending AU's MAT program I completed my undergraduate degree in political science and international relations at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. After leaving Boston, I came to DC where I was an intern at The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. I then started a career in restaurant’s and fine dining where I was a bar manager at two high end DC area restaurants. After exploring the different job markets I realized I wanted something in between the office job and the restaurant job and I had always thought about teaching. AU has helped me in that transition and I have not looked back since.
Why did you join the MAT program at American University?
I joined the MAT program at American University because of the reputation that AU has as a bastion of liberalism, progressive thought, and culture. There was also the great Career Switcher program that I qualified for because of my previous work experience. I liked the program’s depth and two year time frame (longer if you don’t go full time) with the first year learning theory and the second year’s field work where you get to put everything into practice. For someone who has been out of University for around five years it is a great transitional pace. Trust me; you need a semester at that point to get back into the swing of things.
What is your current job/internship?
Currently I am completing my practicum at Alice Deal Middle School where I have been a classroom assistant in a 6th geography classroom. My Co-Operating teacher has been an amazing source of support, advice, and knowledge. She is also a recent graduate of the Education Program at American making it a much easier transition into a classroom setting than I thought possible. My next assignment for student teaching will be at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD where I will be teaching AP US Government and US History WWII to Present.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I grew up oversea’s in Cairo Egypt and Jakarta Indonesia. During that time I attended some fantastic American International Schools and had a fantastic experience. I see myself returning to the International School System either after the MAT program or a few years after working the DMV area. AU’s Education Program has been instrumental in helping me attain the necessary requirement’s I need to attend one of the International School Hiring event in February 2016 at Northern Iowa State University!
Bryan Riley, ’08 MAT Elementary Education, Current Adjunct Faculty
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. I have since transitioned from the classroom to being the assistant principal at Key. 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.
Catalina Rincon, MAT Early Childhood Education
Why did you join the MAT in Early Childhood Education program at American University? I joined the MAT Program because while in undergrad at AU I decided I wanted to become a teacher. I loved AU as an undergraduate student and knew I wanted to go into teaching but my undergraduate degree was in psychology. Going the MAT route allowed me to become certified while also staying at a place I loved!
Could you tell us about some of your experiences while at AU? As an undergraduate at AU, I was a tutor and Team Leader at DC Reads. I worked for two years tutoring children in a transitional housing facility known as the Community of Hope, and then worked in an after school program at Powell Elementary. From my junior year of undergrad until my final year as a master’s student, I partner taught at Horace Mann Elementary in two different kindergarten classrooms.
What is your current job? I am currently at K-1-2 classroom teacher at an independent school in Denver, Colorado called Stanley British Primary. In my classroom I have Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders, and co-teach with two other teachers. I am in charge of Kindergarten Reading, 1st Grade Math, as well as writing, science, and social studies for all three grades.
Where do you see yourself in the future? In the future I see myself continuing to teach at the Early Childhood level! Not sure if that means continuing to teach where I'm at — or branching out to other types of schools! For now I am happy where I am. :)
Emily Harden, MAT Early Childhood Education
What is your academic/professional background prior to coming to AU? I have my BA in political science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I spent two years after graduation nannying in DC before realizing that teaching was the best path for me and seeking out graduate programs in the area.
Why did you join the MAT program at American University? I found that the program is most well suited for those without an undergraduate degree in education. Everyone in the department was prompt, friendly, and knowledgeable during the application process and has continued to be ever since. All of my peers and professors clearly have a deep love for teaching that is contagious and makes our classes engaging and enjoyable.
Have you worked on any assignments or research projects that you would like to highlight? My first semester in the MAT Program I was lucky enough to attend the National Council of Teachers of English conference through a class taught by Vivian Vasquez. A group of ten of us were able to attend the full four-day conference and sit in on dozens of sessions hosted by teachers from across the country. The contacts and information we gained were the equivalent of multiple classes all rolled into one.
What is your current job/internship? This year I'm working as an educational aide in a pre-k3 classroom at Hyde Addison Elementary in Georgetown. I'm doing my practicum and student teaching in my classroom. Being able to work while I complete these requirements and go to class at night has been really fantastic.
Where do you see yourself in the future? I hope to find a job as a lead teacher in a pre-k classroom in DCPS after I graduate in May. I'm also looking into teaching abroad and have loved hearing from other AU grads that have done this after graduation as well.
Kang Yue, MAT Bilingual Education
What is your academic/professional background prior to coming to AU? I am actually an AU alum! After a stint with the Peace Corps/Nicaragua, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in international development at the School of International Service. That experience led to a fruitful career that spanned across the globe, primarily in monitoring and evaluation. Still, in my heart of hearts, I knew that I wanted to work with children and decided to focus my attention towards teaching, which is how I returned to AU.
Why did you join the MAT program at American University? I wanted to continue working in Spanish, and I felt that bilingual education was the best fit for me. There are few bilingual education programs in the Washington, DC area, and AU is the only one that will also allow you to earn your teaching certification while simultaneously completing a master’s degree. Hence, AU’s MAT Program met all of my learning and professional needs.
Have you worked on any assignments or research projects that you would like to highlight? I have contacted and visited numerous dual-language elementary schools in DC and VA to learn more about their mission and ethos. The variety of schools, philosophies, and practices can be overwhelming, and underscores the importance of being attuned to my own teaching philosophy and the kind of school environment in which I would thrive.
What is your current job/internship? I am currently completing my student practicum with a 4th grade Spanish immersion class at Cleveland Elementary School, a partial dual-language immersion school. It has been an incredible learning experience with regard to understanding some of the challenges and successes DCPS schools face in serving their communities. Next semester, I will be commencing my student teaching with a 2nd grade Spanish immersion class at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, a dual-language public magnet school in Fairfax County.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Teaching of course! I would love the opportunity to teach a lower elementary grade at a dual-language school in northern VA, either in the English or Spanish immersion class.
Matthew Koh, ’15 MAT Elementary Education
Why did you join the MAT in Elementary Education program at American University? During SY 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, I served as a City Year corps member in one of the District's lowest-performing schools. Standardized test data notwithstanding, I was consistently impressed not only at how hard teachers worked there, but at the level of impact that they had on their students' lives. As the school years went on, I decided that I wanted to become a teacher in the District. Students here need school in ways I had never imagined before; maybe it's the only place they feel safe, maybe it's the only place they can have a square meal; maybe it's a place where they feel important, cared for, and listened to. AU has a partnership with City Year DC which offers reduced tuition rates in some graduate programs for CY alumni. I decided to join the MAT Elementary Education program to pursue my goal of becoming a DC teacher at a reduced cost.
Could you tell us about some of your experiences while at AU? I enjoyed studying at AU. I liked every single one of my professors; they were friendly, gave good feedback, and clearly loved their profession. Many of them had been teachers earlier in their careers, and this lent authenticity to their practice. As a half-time student, I would work as a partner teacher at Mann Elementary during the day, and walk across the street after school to eat dinner and attend class at 5:30. The proximity of work and school was a well-appreciated convenience.
What is your current job? After two school years as a partner teacher and student teacher at Mann, I was hired last spring to be the school's full-time science teacher. I have my own classroom and teach grades K-4 across the week.
Where do you see yourself in the future? I am enjoying my current job and see no reason not to continue teaching science for years to come. I haven't ruled out the possibility of eventually returning to school in pursuit of an EdD or applying to become an administrator, but I know that the best principals have significant classroom experience, so that is priority number one. As I gain experience in this role, I can also imagine enjoying a mentor teacher or academic coaching job down the line.