MAT program prepares grad for the unexpected

December 01, 2020

profile on  Kim Day

Kim Day, MAT '20, graduated from Quinnipiac’s MAT in Secondary Education this year amid the pandemic. Her student teaching was cut short in the spring, but her confidence never wavered. Quinnipiac School of Education prepared her for teaching in this unexpected environment.

Day shared an important take-away: “I am not going to get it right away. I understand it’s going to take time, but I’ll get there.”

These words are getting Day through her first few months of teaching and will most likely carry her through for years to come. Part of the journey of teaching is learning. Day will serve as an example for her students as she models this through the challenges of education during a pandemic.

Day was part of Quinnipiac’s 4 + 1 program where she earned a Dual-Degree BS in Spanish and MAT in Secondary Education. She is now a Connecticut Certified High School Spanish Teacher in her hometown where she also completed her 10-month internship.

During this time, Day was exposed to experiences such as substitute teaching, participating in faculty meetings, observing a variety of teaching styles, volunteering in school activities and coaching the basketball team totally immersing herself in the school community.

Although her student teaching was cut short because of the COVID-19 shutdown, she did get to experience teaching high school Spanish.

In fact, student teaching was not Day’s first-time teaching Spanish. Day was offered an opportunity to teach while she was a senior in high school. Her Spanish teacher, Jessica Sheer, asked her to be an assistant to help with the Spanish 1 classes.

Once Day experienced teaching, she knew that this was what she wanted to do. Her vast knowledge of Spanish comes from her mother who is Peruvian and spending summers with her grandmother in Peru.

She is excited to share her love for the language and culture with her students.

With the educational and experiential foundation from Quinnipiac’s MAT program, support from her cooperating mentor teacher and Day’s passion for education, she is well-prepared to meet the challenges of a first-year teacher. Day is confident in her ability to excel in her new role.

She feels that she is lucky to have a family that believes in her, a school community that supports her and an alma mater that has given her the teaching skills to be successful even in the face of the unexpected.

Q & A

What made you want to come to QU to get your teaching degree?

I really liked the idea of a 5-year accelerated program to receive my Master’s in Education. Additionally, I liked the tuition remission that they do for your graduate year.

Since you are working as an employee in a school district for an entire year during your graduate year, that school pays for your tuition at QU while you are an intern (with the exception of the 10 weeks that you are student teaching).

However, what ultimately sold me on QU was the passion that I saw from the professors in the Education program. When I came to campus for an open house in September of my senior year in high school,

I could sense the type of passionate community that QU had. I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of that.

How has QU prepared you to be an educator during the time of COVID?

The professors, particularly in the School of Education, have done a great job explaining to us how the field of teaching is one that is constantly changing. The profession of teaching is not just about teaching our students.

It is also remembering that we will always be learning ourselves in order to adapt to the changes that society frequently undergoes in order to best serve our students. COVID is an excellent example of that.

It is a new element that we are adapting to, and we may not be perfect in the beginning, but that is okay. It is part of the learning process, and we are doing the best we can.

That is what matters.

Where did you do your student teaching? What did you learn from your mentor/QU teacher?

I completed my student teaching and graduate internship at Simsbury High School, which also happened to be the high school that I graduated from. My mentor also happened to be my former high school Spanish teacher.

She is someone who I have been learning from for years. She has taught me a lot about self-reflection, and how to look back on my lessons to see where I might need to make adjustments on my future instruction for my students.

She has also taught me how to make sure that I am taking care of myself in order to be the best version of myself for my students that I can be.

How did your fieldwork help prepare you for teaching?

QU does a great job at providing you exposure to many different school environments. Over my two years of field study work and the one-year internship, I was able to experience a middle school, high school, suburban and urban environment.

That diverse exposure really helped prepare me for teaching because it is important as an educator to understand all the different types of learners and environments that you could be teaching in.

I am grateful to have had those experiences at QU.

When did you know you wanted to become a teacher?

Teaching was something I had always talked about doing. When I was a young kid, I used to come home from school and say I wanted to be a teacher.

However, when I was a junior in high school, I started debating a little bit between teaching and physical therapy. Sports are another big passion of mine, and I was not quite sure what I wanted to teach if I did become a teacher.

Luckily, during my senior year of high school, my Spanish teacher allowed me to complete an independent study where I had the opportunity to be her TA (teacher’s assistant) in her Spanish 1 class.

That opportunity sealed the deal for me. I fell in love with teaching during that year and working with those students in that class. That is when I truly decided that I wanted to be a Spanish teacher.

When you think about your future, where do you see yourself?

I think it is too early to know for me. I am only in my first year of teaching, and during these times of COVID, the future is not something that I have given much thought to because even the next month is so unknown since we may have to go back to remote learning at any given point.

However, I can say that I am open-minded, and I look forward to exploring many kinds of opportunities that may be heading my way.

What was the most inspirational experience you had at QU – it could be in a classroom or on campus or in the community.

It is extremely hard for me to choose only one inspirational experience over the many that I had at QU. However, I think that I would have to say that my study abroad experience was certainly one of the most inspirational experiences that I had because of QU.

I was able to spend an entire semester in Spain where I was able to travel to many other countries. This experience really opened my eyes to all the different types of cultures and communities that exist throughout the entire world.

It allowed me to gain more perspective in my life, and that is a perspective and experience that I can share with my future students.

Can you tell me about the community at QU and specifically your major? What is it like to go to school at QU?

There is a lot to love about the QU community. There truly is something for everyone to get involved in. I was able to make so many wonderful friends and connections through the programs that I took part of during my time at QU.

I was able to work for intramural sports as a statistician, and then later as a supervisor. I was able to gain classroom experience early on through the Quinnipiac Future Teachers Organization (QFTO).

During my junior year, I was the treasurer, and then my senior year, I had the pleasure of being the president of QFTO. Lastly, I was fortunate enough to be a manager for the women’s basketball team at QU.

This allowed me the opportunity to travel to many states across the country with the team, be part of three MAAC championship wins and travel with them to the Sweet Sixteen back in 2017.

All these opportunities really shaped my QU experience. I became friends with so many different people from all throughout the university. From more of an academic perspective, I also loved the smaller class sizes of QU.

In Spanish, I was able to form many great relationships with my professors because there were never many of us in class. I typically had somewhere between 4-10 students in my class, which allowed us to form excellent connections with the professors.

I loved being able to experience learning that was very personable. I am not the type of person who would do well in a giant lecture with over 100 students.

That is simply a personal preference of mine that really made me love the QU community even more.

The university sponsors many opportunities for students to prepare for jobs such as resume writing workshops, mock interviews, job fairs, mentoring transition program from student to teacher and other opportunities. What is your experience with these services?

These services were something that was a requirement for me during my graduate year in the MAT Education program. Every month during the Spring semester, we were required to take part in one of these seminars with our classmates.

We had a resume-writing workshop and took part in mock interviews (virtually this year) to prepare us for our real-life interviews. These services were so beneficial to me because they really prepared me for the job search process.

Had they not been a requirement, I still would have most likely chosen to take part of these somewhere on campus because I think it is something that every student should take part in.

If you are like Day, and have a passion for teaching, learn more about Quinnipiac’s dual-degree, graduate and certificate programs in education.

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