"Cazenovia has created new connections for me..."
A young girl in Mrs. Thome's third-grade class stood at the front of the room and presented a book she wrote to her classmates. She read aloud to her favorite teacher's class once a day for the next two weeks and savored every second in front of the whiteboard. She paid careful attention to mimic Thome's impressionable teaching style by being enthusiastic, energetic, and above all - patient.
The latter trait may seem simple to some, but it has played a giant role in shaping that impressionable grade school student's life calling. Meet Sarah Hart, inclusive elementary education major from Camillus, New York, who is pursuing her dream to become a thoughtful, uplifting, supportive educator.
The teaching spark was ignited very early on for Hart, as she comes from a long line of family members who are in the profession. Her mother is a teacher's assistant in a neighboring town, so Hart was immersed in the field for as long as she can remember. "Over the years, I had gone back and forth on which specific area of education I wanted to focus on," says Hart, but she ultimately narrowed her goals toward working with children with disabilities. She says, "When I found out that Cazenovia offers a dual certification for Special Education and Elementary, it sealed the deal!"
Hart enjoyed a smooth transition into Cazenovia College's close-knit community. Her previous visits made her familiar with her ideal campus, happy that she easily found a perfect roommate match on the class Facebook page, and delighted that she formed an instant bond with her adviser on day one. Hart says Dr. Erica Miller, assistant professor, inclusive education, quickly became a mentor to her, and she has gone above and beyond her expectations of a professor. "I have spent a countless number of hours in Dr. Miller's office just chatting about different things, and I always feel comfortable coming to her about anything," says Hart.
Miller echoes Hart's sentiments and notes that Sarah's exemplary learning methods, dedication to her studies, calm demeanor and ability to approach challenging situations with a positive attitude will allow her to hit the ground running upon her graduation in December 2015. "Sarah is passionate about taking the knowledge that she has obtained from her education courses and applying it to her fieldwork," says Miller. "Her compassion and desire to meet the needs of all children can be seen in her creative lesson plans and her encouraging interactions with her students. She has the skills needed to be an amazing teacher - one that I would want for my own children."
Miller's guidance over the years has enhanced Hart's choice to attend Cazenovia and immerse herself in her major's moderately-sized classes. She longed to attend a school where she could learn from zealous collegiate educators, interact with her peers on an individual level, and gain true hands-on experience in an elementary classroom setting. She received just that and then some! She notes, "Cazenovia has created new connections for me and strengthened others that will eventually help me throughout my teaching career."
Last spring, Hart began her first semester of required student teaching, and she was placed in a local Central New York parochial school under the supervision of a certified host teacher. She had the opportunity to step away from campus for several weeks to serve full days in a classroom setting which included such tasks as creating and executing conscientious lesson plans, attending staff meetings, collaborating with administrators, planning activities, recognizing different learning levels, engaging closely with pupils and much more.
"Even in the short amount of time at my last student teaching placement, I noticed the students in my classroom succeeding and growing," says Hart. "I love seeing the excitement on their faces when they finally understand something that they have been struggling with for a while, and I love seeing how excited and willing they are to learn." She further explains, "It really is a rewarding field, and I'm so glad that this is what I get to do for the rest of my life!"
This fall, Hart entered her final semester of student teaching. As fate would have it, Hart's educational journey has come full circle. She was placed alongside quite a special individual - Mrs. Thome! The very first guide to set her on the path toward the world of education is at her final stop before she sets sail on a new adventure - substitute teaching and graduate school. Hart delights in the fact that her destination is almost here, and she arrived because of passion, perseverance - and patience.