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Teacher Education| Selected Student Profiles

Dominique Topps, MAT Student, Secondary Education

What is your academic/professional background prior to coming to AU?
I studied English at San Diego State University and graduated Cum Laude with a BA in 2011. In the summer I interned at a Data Storage Management company called NetApp. I focused on the Internal Communications in the Human Resources Department.

Why did you choose AU, and the MAT in Secondary Education in particular?
I chose AU because I was looking to relocate from California to the DC area and I knew that American University had a reputation for being a good school. I chose the education path because after majoring in English I thought it would be really exciting to teach English to others. I'm fond of high school age students because I feel that I can relate to them because I was in their shoes not too long ago and taking English classes in high school were some of my best high school memories and I hope to help students fall in love with English like I did.

Have you worked on any specific research projects that you would like to highlight?

Right now I am working on a research paper in my Classroom Management course where I am trying to link reading/writing and theory of multiple intelligences and it's influence on classroom behavior/management.

Can you describe what you are working on at your current internship/job?

Right now I am doing my practicum experience at E.L. Haynes PCS. I'm working in 4 different 6th grade Literacy classes. It's interesting and a challenge because half of the students are reading around a 3rd grade level rather than a 6th grade level but it's a lot of fun working with the students and watching them progress!

Brian Riley, MAT Alumnus, Elementary Education

Why did you join the MAT in Elementary Education program at American University?
The motto "Once and 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, Teaching and Health.

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, Teaching and Health 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?

SETH 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, Teaching and Health 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.

Lindsay Glotzer, MA Student, Early Childhood Education

What is your academic/professional background prior to coming to AU?
I graduated with a BA in English and Elementary Education in May 2011 at University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. I started my early childhood masters program here that following fall.

Why did you choose AU, and the MA in Teaching in particular?
I knew I wanted to be in a city for my graduate program. I applied to schools in NYC, Boston, and DC. Going to undergrad only an hour away, I fell in love with DC. My best friend went to Georgetown for undergrad and we would visit each other throughout our four years. I chose AU because I wanted to be in DC since I knew of all the amazing opportunities that are available. I also wanted to focus my masters year on early childhood education instead of elementary education which is what I received my BA in. I wanted to get a masters because I want to continue to learn as much as I can about early childhood education. I am very passionate about it and I hope this passion continues throughout my career as a teacher. I am glad I made the choice to come to AU. I really enjoy my classes and the experience it has provided me thus far.

Have you worked on any specific research projects that you would like to highlight?

I wrote a research paper in one of my classes last semester on the lack of science in early childhood classrooms. What sparked my interest initially was because of my current job. I work in the office of education at NOAA in Silver Spring, MD providing teachers and educators with educational materials from all over. We have minimal resources in the early years and due to this, I decided to investigate this issue more in depth. I presented this paper to my professor and later on to my office to bring this issue to their attention. I am continuing this project in my research class this semester and trying to carry it out among teachers and their opinions on science in the classroom.

Can you describe what you are working on at your current internship/job?
In addition to what is stated above, I am also in charge of managing the outreach center when my supervisor is away. I package together educational resources for educators and teachers for their classrooms and educational events.

Josh Halpren, BA Student, Social Studies & Secondary Education

What is your Academic Background?
I am a third-year undergraduate student double-majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies: CLEG (Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics and Government) and Secondary Education. I am also pursuing a certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies through the School of Public Affairs Leadership Program. My goal is to teach middle or high school social studies although I would eventually like to pursue a leadership position that would allow me to create meaningful change in the ways in which teachers are perceived, treated, and trained, from within the education system. This past spring, I won a Killam Fellowship which will help to fund me through the Spring 2013 semester as I study abroad at Carleton University in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. I am also a university nominee for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. In addition to my academic work, I also serve as a Resident Assistant for second-year students in Leonard Hall and as a Writer for the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office. I am originally from Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from the Literary Arts program at Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson, Maryland.

Why did you chose AU and SETH in particular?
I actually began my time at AU as a Political Science major in the School of Public Affairs. I had been the "politics nerd" all through high school and I was absolutely sure that I was bound for a career working on a campaign, on the Hill or in another policy organization. I imagined myself wearing a fancy suit, carrying a fancy badge and walking into one of the Congressional office buildings with more pride and professionalism than could be imagined.But as my freshman year progressed I began to consistently find my way to education policy. I found myself automatically checking the Washington Post and New York Times education pages. My ears perked up every time I heard someone discussing No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top. I have to admit, I became a little obsessed. I began to look into Teach for America, a program many of my peers in the SPA Leadership Program discussed with great fervor, and decided to minor in Education Studies. My first education class was Schools and Society with Marilyn Goldhammer.

Marilyn Goldhammer changed everything. The passion she brought to the classroom and her desire to help each of my classmates see the value of education "whether they were going into the classroom or the boardroom" was inspirational. I found myself hanging onto every word she said and getting annoyed when our class was cancelled for snow! Her consistent support of me and my classmates and her assurance that we never stopped being her students, even when the course was over, epitomizes what a professor should be.

That summer I was assigned to read Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp's book, One Day, All Children as part of my work in the SPA Leadership Program. Simultaneously, on the advice of a friend I was reading Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System. As I got through both books I started to look at TFA with a different lens. Could a two year stint as a classroom teacher really help me to understand the realities of teaching in the United States? I thought of my mom, a thirty-year veteran elementary school teacher in Baltimore County and the learning process she goes through every school year. My mom has been teaching for thirty years and is still learning how to be the best teacher she can be. And while she is one of the best teachers I know, I know she didn't get there just by knowing her content. Teaching is an art, one that is learned both at the university level and on the ground in the classroom. I knew after that summer, that if I ever wanted to make the real change I wanted to see in the world of education, a short summer prep institute, followed by two years in the classroom wasn't going to be enough for me. I had to follow my heart to become a teacher and I haven't looked back since.

Can you describe what you are working on at your current job/internship?
This semester I am the K-12 Education Intern at the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, a policy organization dedicated to bringing together individuals who tend to have very differing views on controversial issues in order to help them devise new, innovative methods for tacking these issues. The Education project specifically looks at how we can re-imagine our public education system to better serve the needs of 21st century students, teachers and communities. We are interviewing a wide range of individuals from unions to charter networks to corporations and everything in between in order to take informed, meaningful, collective action.

I am also currently volunteering at Woodrow Wilson High School in Tenleytown where I am working with juniors and seniors in DC History and AP United States History classes. Wilson is one of the most diverse high schools in DC, drawing students from every ward. The teacher I work with is fantastic. He has this incredible sense of humor and energy that helps the students see the value in what he is teaching them. He gets the importance of every moment he spends with these students. Observing him teach and helping in his classroom has been a fantastic experience and I see him as a role model for both me and the students. Even though I only have to complete 40 hours to complete my Service Learning in Teacher Education requirement, I plan on spending as much time in his classroom as I can before the end of the semester!


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