Following Her Path at NVU to Make a Difference in the World

Sara Ford ’20 has wanted to be a teacher since she was in kindergarten. She’s also fascinated by government and politics. As an NVU 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 NVU-Johnson’s chapter of the Model United Nations; NVU 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 says.

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 about Johnson 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 says.

When Sara graduates from NVU, she plans to have a license to teach social studies in grades 7-12.

She Got a Head Start with Early College

Sara started at NVU as an enrolled student in the Early College program, which allows high school seniors to complete graduation requirements while they take tuition-free classes at NVU and earn college credits.

“Early College helped me adjust to college life,” says Sara, of Jeffersonville, Vermont. “I felt very supported by NVU staff and faculty.”

She adjusted well and went on to become involved in NVU’s 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 says. “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. NVU’s small classes have helped Sara connect with her professors. “My professors know me. That’s something I wanted in a college,” she says. “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 says.

Her practicums and upcoming student teaching semester 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 says. “I’m very comfortable being in class with my students.”

Students sit and study together at a table.

“I don’t think I could have done half as much anywhere else.”

– Alyssa Slaiman ’16


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