Sara Ford has wanted to be a teacher since she was in kindergarten. She’s also fascinated by government and politics. As a political science major who’s pursuing secondary teacher licensure, she’ll be prepared to combine those interests after she graduates.
Through the education program, she strengthened the teaching skills she’ll need in a practicum at nearby Lamoille Union High School for her teaching licensure. She also has immersed herself in government through the Model United Nations; trips to Montreal, Canada, and the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier; conference presentations; and other activities.
Gaining Real-World Experience at Local Schools
Sara will have another education practicum and, in her last semester, will work full-time as a student teacher at a local school. “I have the foundation of education theories, but I’m also getting the professionalism part now, what it means to actually be in front of the classroom and build lessons, how to interact with students and families,” Sara said.
Sometimes she weaves into classroom lessons some of what she has learned while pursuing minors in global studies and history. “One of the strongest parts is that we really get engaged in our practicums. I’m learning not only from the professors on campus but also from the classroom teachers at the school,” she said.
When Sara graduates, she plans to have a license to teach social studies in grades 7-12.
She Got a Head Start with Early College
Sara started as an enrolled student in the Early College program, which allows high school seniors to complete graduation requirements while they take tuition-free classes and earn college credits.
She adjusted well and went on to become involved in the Student Government Association and now is a resident assistant in a campus residence hall. “The community on this campus is phenomenal. Students always look out for one another,” Sara said. “Everyone is so welcoming and caring … You really find your second family here.”
Faculty Support and Small Classes Help Students Succeed
That family includes the faculty. Small classes have helped Sara connect with her professors. “My professors know me. That’s something I wanted in a college,” she said. “It helps me learn when I know their style, and we can work together when I’m stuck.” She has benefited from a close relationship with her advisor, political science professor David Plazek.
In the education department, professors Kathleen Brinegar and Rob Schulze have been great mentors. “They have really shaped me and helped me become the professional that I’m working on being when I graduate. The education department gives you so much and prepares you so well,” Sara said.
Her practicums and upcoming student teaching semesters are a key part of the preparation. In her first practicum, “I felt so much joy and confidence being in the classroom for the first time, having been in the education department for the past three years,” she said. “I’m very comfortable being in class with my students.”