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Featuring Heather Thompson '00

 

Grad Year: 2000

Teaching Position: Middle School Language Arts Teacher

School District: Salem Christian School

City, State/Country: Macungie, PA

Certification: Pennsylvania K-6 certificate and K-12 Mild/Moderate Intervention Specialist certificate; Ohio K-8 (HQT status in all subjects K-6), K-12 Reading Endorsement, and K-12 Mild/Moderate Intervention Specialist; B.S. Elementary Education (2000) and Masters of Education (August 2013); Reading Honors, NDC

Graduate School: Notre Dame College of Ohio

Graduate Program: Special Education and Reading

(Profiled: May 2013)

 

Information about Heather's graduate school experience

 

  How did you connect with this job opportunity?

♦  What attracted you to this position?

♦  What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

♦  What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?

♦  How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?

♦  What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom?

♦  What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

 

How did you connect with this job opportunity?

I completed my special education practicum at SCS last school year after getting married and moving to eastern PA.  This past summer, a position in middle school language arts opened, and God blessed me with the opportunity to be in Christian education again full-time.

 

What attracted you to this position?

The people of SCS are phenomenal.  The atmosphere of a fun, academically-centered, Christian education where the people are like family was key.  It reminded me of the GCC campus atmosphere.

 

What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

I still, after all these years of teaching, love those "light-bulb moments" with students, and I get so excited when those who may struggle the most finally "get it."  Also, laughing with kids and helping them to laugh at themselves relaxes a classroom environment, no matter their academic levels.  Getting paid to do what I love is just a bonus.

 

What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?

The biggest challenge as a first-year teacher, back in 2000 at a Christian school in Ohio, was just learning to balance life with teaching as I am, as most "Grovers" are, an over-achiever who must learn to balance work and family/friends.  It's still a challenge as I balance work with being married and a parent.

 

How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?

My years at GCC prepared me for the teaching field in giving me real-life experiences in the area schools, allowing me time to talk with my professors and dear Mrs. Fields (our education office secretary at the time) to get their expertise, and inspiring me with service-opportunities and friendships upon which to build for my career.

 

What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for their future classroom?

1. CONSISTENCY Be consistent.  Whatever you're doing, whether it's grading, disciplining, coaching, or teaching:  be consistent.  Kids appreciate the consistency, as well as administrators and parents.  It's also best to begin the year a bit more strict than soft; it's always easier to get "nicer" than have to pull the switch and buckle down (for you elementary teachers, remember the book's message of Miss Nelson is Missing).

2.  KINDNESS  In addition, learn to network and help make the secretaries, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodial staff, and other employees at the school your allies.  That was Dr. Bussel's advice to us in the late 90s at GCC.  It still holds true today.  Those are the great people to appreciate and who will be first to help you.  A little kindness goes a long way wherever you may be.  

3.  COMMUNICATION  The same stands true with parents:  be certain to let them know you're on a team together to help their child be the best they can be.  It also helps if there's ever a question of a situation between you and your students for the parents to be able to think the best of you, and vice versa.

4.  COUNSEL  Pray for wisdom, and seek wise counsel.  Don't think you're "all that, and a bag of chips" as I like to say to my students; humility is critical to teaching.  You're going to make a lot of mistakes, so be real with the students, ready to forgive one another as you all learn together being "life-long-learners," as Dr. Mackey encouraged us to be while he was at GCC.

 

What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

Don't be discouraged easily!  There are going to be interviews you think go well, and that you may never hear about again. The interview doesn't determine your value as a teacher or as a person.  You may have to work as a substitute (even for several years as I did in Ohio), but you must see it as an opportunity to learn and/or as a mission field of being obedient to where God wants you to be for His reasons, and not our own.  You will learn so much more about yourself and life if you struggle, rather than land the perfect big-district teaching job right out of your undergraduate education.  

 

More information about Heather's graduate school experience

 

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