Everyday Education: Brevard College Prepares A Future Teacher


February 18, 2019

Courtesy Photo

Courtney Sharp, a student in Brevard College's teacher education program, provides some small group instruction to students in Hayley Leland's third grade classroom at Brevard Elementary School.

"Experience BC!" is a common phrase that rings across the campus of Brevard College. For many students, this phrase may simply mean get more involved on campus; however, as a future educator, I take it to mean get more involved through the campus.

Experiential education is the forefront of this college, and it definitely holds true for the education program. Being an integrated studies major with a concentration in elementary education, I gained many rich opportunities to get involved through Brevard College.

Education played a major part in my upbringing. Coming from a long line of strong, female educators, it seemed as though it was my destiny to continue this familial line. I was drawn to the education program due to the interesting courses and experienced faculty.

Over the past four years, the education program at Brevard College has prepared me for the world of education by allowing me to go out into the field and assist the community. In the gateway 21st Century Teacher and Learner course taught by professor Betsy Burrows, students are expected to volunteer at after-school programs, such as Rise & Shine Freedom School, Boys & Girls Club, and many more. I tutored at Rise & Shine Freedom School, and I absolutely fell in love with the program. The kids are enthusiastic and energetic, and the staff does a wonderful job promoting literacy and growth mindset.

With this course, I also attended a House of Worship field experience in Asheville, where our class visited a Jewish synagogue, Muslim mosque and a Buddhist center to discuss diversity both in and out of the classroom. These experiences have prepared me to meet the NC Teaching Standard 2, "Teachers establish a respectful environment for a diverse population of students."

In addition to field work, the education program has prepared me through its intentionality towards creating a well-rounded educator. In the educational technology course, I received instruction from Jodi Huggins, a full-time exceptional children teacher at Brevard Middle School. I worked with a plethora of technological tools for the classroom, such as Kahoot! and Virtual Reality, and eventually became Google level 1 certified!

Additionally, in Diverse and Exceptional Learners taught by professor Megan Keiser, I attended diversity forums where the topics ranged from autism and dyslexia to English language learners and refugee students. I also created mock-IEPs for a fictional classroom to learn how accommodations and modifications work in the school system.

Furthermore, in the educational psychology course, I was instructed by Alice Wellborn, who has worked in Transylvania County Schools for over 30 years as both a school psychologist and school board member. I learned about the processes in a student's brain and how teachers can shape their instruction to inspire motivation.

Lastly, in Professor Burrow's facilitation of learning course, I learned how to plan lessons and become a more organized teacher. I also learned how to be flexible in my teaching and modify instruction when necessary.

Aside from the core education classes, I had the opportunity to try my hand in other fields of learning, as well. Nature-based learning has been a major focus that I have experienced during my time thus far. In Environmental Science Pedagogy taught by biology Professor Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, I attended weekly workshops where I learned about the diverse ecosystems of North Carolina and how to incorporate fun, environmental-based activities into the classroom.

In WLEE Professor Jennifer Kafsky's Theory & Practice of Experiential Education and Facilitation of Group Games & Initiatives courses, I created and participated in engaging, outdoor activities that I could potentially use in my future classroom. In all these courses, I spent most of my time appreciating and interacting with nature.

Overall, if I had to pinpoint the most experiential experience I received from the program, I would choose my time working in my methods courses. These courses are intended for students to get as much field experience as possible before student teaching. Due to the generosity of Brevard Elementary School, I had the pleasure of collaborating with both Hayley Leland and Courtney Hagenau in their third grade classrooms.

I crafted my own lessons and taught them to their students. I helped the students create orbit models of the solar system, learn about the history of the Cradle of Forestry, and play interactive dice games based on the distributive property of multiplication. I learned many beneficial things from both Hayley and Courtney, and I made valuable connections that will further my chances of employment after I graduate.

John Dewey, the father of experiential education, once remarked, "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."

I see this every time students exhibit a growth mindset and continue to face challenges head-on. I see it when students collaborate and communicate to solve challenging problems.

Through this program, I gained realistic experiences in real classrooms. I feel well prepared to enter the teaching profession because of Brevard College's focus on experiential education. Each course encourages personal growth and inspires artistic, intellectual and social action.

Due to the rich experiences I received from this program, I feel as confident as ever to step into a classroom and teach. Brevard College gave me these opportunities, and I wish everyone, especially those hoping to go into the educational field, to have the chance to truly "Experience BC."


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