While every student has a major, not everyone knows what they want to do with it. But for most Education majors, the answer is simple: they will teach.
The Education major, though currently the newest major on campus, is an important one. It provides students with the ability to get licensure to teach when they graduate, along with the experience necessary to be successful.
Education majors are required to spend a semester student teaching, which can be challenging at times due to the elongated schedule.
Sarah Lewis ’15, an Early Childhood Education and Women’s and Gender Studies double major, believes that “teaching is one of the few careers that guarantees a life of youthfulness.” Lewis is currently student teaching, and comments that “I watch the children play, listen as they laugh, and know that this is the field I am meant to be in.”
Lewis has wanted to be a teacher since high school, and came to Wheaton with the intent to study Education.
Her high school had an internship program, and Lewis planned on completing her internship by working at an art gallery. After the internship fell through, she needed another, and her mom suggesting working in a preschool.
“I was hesitant to return to my preschool, and didn’t think I was going to enjoy it,” Lewis remarks. “To my surprise, I was completely absorbed into the world of the children, and got that ‘feeling’ that I had found my passion.”
Another Education major, Margaret Fogarty ’15, also decided to be a teacher while in high school. She took an Early Childhood Education course through her county’s vocational program, and worked in elementary school classrooms. Fogarty explains that after that, “I was hooked!” Fogarty, who has always enjoyed working with children, wants to “help provide children with the best education possible.”
Fogarty has spent six weeks teaching Kindergarten and six weeks in Second grade, and appreciates the difference between the two. She explains, “One of the best parts about student teaching is getting to spend so much time teaching kids and seeing them learn and grow. They have so much energy, and I always have funny stories about the goofy kids to tell my friends!”
Fogarty and Lewis were certainly prepared for their roles as student teachers. This past fall, they spent time in the classrooms that they eventually ended up in, which allowed them to get to know the kids and get a feel for the classrooms. This is through the practicum courses EDUC 390, Teaching Reading & Language Arts, and EDUC 385, Teaching Math & Science, which they mentioned have been crucial aspects of their education. Even in those types of courses, Forgarty remarks, “we get a lot of support from our professors. Many education courses and very hands-on and interactive, and everything we learn can be applied to our classroom experiences.”
With new majors, there’s often a lack of support. But both women rave of the Wheaton Education program, and are glad that it has graduated from its lengthy stint as an intensive minor to a full major.
As they prepare to leave Wheaton to teach elsewhere, they have the experience necessary to succeed in what they love. Lewis explains, “I never want to stop learning or exploring, and teaching is just that.”