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Student and Alumni Profiles

Ben Sherman, BA K12 Education: Spanish 

Ben Sherman

Why did you choose to pursue BA in K-12 Education for Spanish at American University?
I've always loved learning Spanish. When I came to AU, I discovered that teaching would be a great way to use the language while making a positive impact in my community. The BA program has offered me the flexibility, support, and experiences I need to become an effective Spanish teacher. 

Have you worked on any assignments or research projects that you would like to highlight? 
I am involved in an ongoing research project with Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson who served as the Dean of the School of Education for 13 years. I am helping her investigate the implementation of Common Core State Standards in Special Education classrooms.

What is your current job/internship? 
I am currently completing my practicum at Langley High School in McLean, VA. I also work part-time at District of Columbia International School, which is where I will complete my student teaching in the spring.

Where do you see yourself in the future? 
I want to create an authentic, engaging Spanish classroom for all of my students. Eventually, I plan to use my teaching experience to work in education policy and research.

Emilie Jourdain, BA/MAT Elementary Education Early Childhood Education 

Emilie Jourdan

Why did you choose to  pursue the BA/MAT in Early Childhood Education at American University? 
I chose to pursue the BA/MAT in Early Childhood Education (ECE) because it fits in well with my Elementary Education bachelor's that I am also pursuing at the moment. Plus, I really enjoy working with younger children and ECE focuses on the lower grade levels of elementary education. Also, by participating in the BA/MA program, here at AU, I will be able to graduate with a master's degree with only one extra year (plus a summer session) of studies instead of the typical two years that master's degrees in education usually take. In doing so, I also have to pay one less year of tuition, which is also really nice! 

How has your experience been in the BA/MAT in ECE? 
So far, I have had a good experience with the BA/MAT in ECE. The classes I've been taking have really well with my other education courses, though because I am simultaneously taking master's and bachelor's courses some of the content does over lap. But, in being part of the BA/MAT in ECE I have been able to a course that I consider to be my favorite course that I have taken at AU, which my Play and Learning course with Professor Vasquez.  

Have you worked on any specific assignments or research projects so far that you would like to highlight? 
For my Play and Learning class, one of the projects I had to do was a group project about creating a Playshop, and my group's Playshop showcased the need for outdoor/unrestricted play. I really liked this project because it allowed me to do some research on play and the effects it has on both children and adults. And now, for my final project in this class, I am able to further look into what play means and how people view play. 

Where do you see yourself in the future? 
After I graduate the BA/MA program I am looking to teach abroad for a couple of years. As far as what comes after that I'm not too sure yet, I will probably come back to the US and teach. 

Erica Bleicher,  BA Elementary Education 

Erica Bleicher

Why did you choose the BA Elementary Education program at American University? 
I chose the BA Elementary Education program here at American University because of its “tight-knit community” aspect. Through my four years here, I have gotten to know fellow students and professors on a personal level, which in turn has created an environment that continues to stimulate my passion for educating young minds. Classes within this program are small and discussion-based, so I am able to learn a lot of new content from professors while being an active participant at the same time. The staff here at AU help me to connect to many education opportunities in the D.C. area, and always make themselves available to students for help on their journeys to becoming teachers. You feel like you become part of a family where everyone is there to help one another with an endless amount of resources and support. Through this support, I have learned that although this profession can be challenging at times, it can also be one of the most rewarding.   

Have you worked on any assignments or research projects that you would like to highlight? 
During my junior year, I had the opportunity to participate in a research program at Janney Elementary School that was led by a fellow classmate to fulfill my service learning requirement. With the guidance of Professor Susan Jaffe and Dr. Cathy Crocker, we ran an after-school tutoring club for third graders. The focus of the program was to integrate math and reading standards into one lesson and to analyze students’ reactions. This experience was really rewarding for me, for I had multiple opportunities to create these diverse lesson plans and see how the students responded to them. It was also very interesting to help gather data and to view education from a statistical standpoint.   

What is your current job/internship? 
I am currently completing my Practicum this semester at Green Acres Elementary School in a fourth-grade class. My cooperating teacher has been really supportive through this process, and has taught me a lot through her own unique pedagogy. I work there twice a week, and have had the opportunity to work with students one-on-one and even create my own lesson plans. It’s really great to be able to work as a student teacher and gain this field experience as a senior, for it confirms for me that this is the profession I see myself in once I graduate. It also allows me to put the knowledge I have learned through my methods courses at AU to the test!  

Where do you see yourself in the future? 
I definitely see myself becoming a classroom teacher once I graduate, but there are also many other paths that I would like to experience. I have always been interested in child psychology, and have considered getting a Master’s in School Counseling in the near future. As an Elementary Education major, I have learned not to limit myself by thinking I have to teach in a classroom for the rest of my life. Whether it’s policy, administration, or even international development, there are countless facets of education that I can experience; it’s just picking one that’s the tough part!  

Josh Halpren, BA Alumnus, Secondary Education

Josh Halpern

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.