English Major Concentration: Teacher Licensure
Current Position: English Teacher and 9th-Grade Class Dean at Savannah Country Day School
After I left Elon, I worked for a year at Walter Williams High School in Burlington, N.C. Then I received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English (literature and language) at a university in the city of Parana, Argentina, for a year. After that, I attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where I got my M.Ed with a concentration in International Education Policy. I then took a job teaching English literature at King’s Academy, an independent boarding school grades 9-12 in Madaba, Jordan. After spending three years at King’s Academy, I decided to return to the U.S. and took a position at Savannah Country Day School, where I have been working for two years.
Did your degree in English with a concentration in teacher licensure prepare you for your professional career?
My preparation at Elon has been critical to every professional step I’ve taken so far. From my degree program at Elon, I gained a solid foundation in my content area so that I feel comfortable teaching all aspects of English literature, grammar, and language. From my concentration in the Teacher Licensure program, I gained invaluable practical experience in the classroom to prepare me for all aspects of professional life as a teacher: working with students of all walks of life and with varying levels of ability; working with other teachers and administrators to create a professional and effective classroom and school climate; and working with parents to establish a partnership in support of each student. Even though I have switched into the independent/private schools, my public school training has helped me become a better teacher because it made me acutely aware of the different stakeholders, policies and procedures that should ideally work together to help students learn.
Is there value in an English degree?
An English degree is versatile. No matter your concentration, having acquired an English degree is a sign that you know how to communicate well and that you can view the world through multiple lenses. Being able to convincingly argue a point and choose words to best convey your message is a skill valued in almost any profession.
What was your best experience as an English major?
I don’t know if I could pick one experience to call “the best.” My favorite class was History of the English Language. It opened my eyes to the world of linguistics, and it appealed very much to the grammar nerd in me! But I also greatly valued my practicums in the schools, especially my student teaching experience Senior year. The support I received from my cooperating teacher and my supervising professor at Elon made it so that I never felt like a failure, despite obvious beginner mistakes, and they gave me just the right balance of structure and creative freedom to help me establish my own teaching persona and style.
Any advice for English majors?
Take advantage of every opportunity to move from theory to practical application, whether it’s through community service, Service Learning Classes, practicums, publications, conferences, etc. There’s a big difference between pondering the theoretical implications of an idea and seeing if it works in the real world.
“I am grateful to all my English professors who challenged me to think in new ways. They emphasized love of learning over grades, and that is what I also try to inspire in my students. A hunger for knowledge and a willingness to take constructive criticism serve one better and longer than grades ever will.”