2013 2014 cohort

Students train to become teachers

Views 162 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 2 - 13 - 2014 | By: Jenny Martinez


For some Westmont students, final semesters do not entail sitting behind desks, but rather, teaching in front of them. These liberal studies students gain real-life experience in the classroom as they begin their careers in education.

One such individual is fourth-year Lauren Gysin, who currently teaches first grade at Hope Elementary School. Gysin’s experience as a student teacher thus far has confirmed her vocational calling. While the challenges of managing her own classroom have been demanding, she reports that “By setting reachable goals, taking risks, and reflecting on my teaching, I am being stretched and developed into a professional.”

Fourth-year Paige Harris also teaches off-campus, working in a fifth-grade classroom at Monroe Elementary School. Harris admitted she was a little overwhelmed during her first week in the classroom: there were “Two identical twins, three sets of fraternal twins, four students named Jose and three students named Carlos,” Harris laughed. But Harris rose energetically to meet the challenge, and believes that her goals for her liberal studies degree and career are the most rewarding endeavor she has ever pursued. “Each day I get to use my gifts and bring them out in others,” Harris said.

Liberal studies fourth-year Chloe Dickson is one of the few students working at the high school level. Dickson teaches English full-time at Dos Pueblos High. Her class is comprised of 37 students, 21 of whom are boys (one of whom thought it would be entertaining to ask her to Winter Formal!). Dickson says her confidence level in delivering course material has already greatly increased, and she is looking forward to pursuing a hired teaching position at the high school level after officially graduating in May.

Through her experience working with the third grade at Monroe Elementary School, fourth-year Jenn Sanchez has learned to utilize a greater variety of strategies “to engage students in cooperative learning.” Post-Westmont, Sanchez is considering pursuing graduate work in “teaching growth mindset in the classroom.”

Fourth-year Emily Hagen also has unique postgraduate goals. Since middle school, Hagen has been interested in working abroad. She is currently exploring opportunities to teach internationally in conjunction with mission work for the next two years. Tanzania and Micronesia are possible locations on her list, and she is excited about the potential this opportunity holds for combining her loves of culture, children and education in a way that communicates truth.

“Receiving my credential has been the four best years of my life,” said fourth-year Nicole Provost. While working in a sixth-grade classroom at Monte Vista Elementary School, Provost has been enjoying the opportunity to “use all the information, advice, research and lesson plans” that she has worked so hard to gather and produce over the past few years of study. She especially enjoys stretching students to think abstractly and make connections with the world outside the classroom.

Gysin, Harris, Dickson, Sanchez, Hagen and Provost expressed deep appreciation for the Westmont Liberal Studies Department and the exceptional degree of preparation and support they have received over the course of their Westmont experiences. It is clear that the work these liberal studies students have poured into the last four years — the diligence, care and energy they apply in creating a meaningful learning environment during their time of student teaching — will be a gift to many children and families in Santa Barbara this semester, and wherever they choose to continue their teaching careers.


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