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Featuring Sarah Beck '11



Position: 4th grade teacher

Schools: Onslow County Schools

Location: Jacksonville, NC

Certification: Elementary Education K-6

(Profiled: May 2013)


♦  How did you connect with this job opportunity?

♦  What attracted you to this position?

♦  What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

♦  What 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 received a flyer in the mail for the Onslow County Job Fair, but unfortunately couldn't attend. I decided that I would send my cover letter and resume to all of the principals in the county informing them that I couldn't make the job fair, but was interested in a teaching position (This might seem a little unprofessional to do, but I had been in contact with the Beginning Teacher Coordinator of Clinton County - which is right next to Onslow - and I asked her of the best way to get my name out there for jobs, and she said the principals have the most say in hiring and to directly contact them). A few days later, I heard back from Principal Kopec asking me if I could come to Jacksonville, NC for an interview. So we set up a date and I went down for an interview! I had no idea what teaching positions they had available, nor did they tell me what opening they had. But I went into it with an open mind and was honest about the grades that I preferred teaching. 

What attracted you to this position?

I didn't know any specifics about the position I was interviewing for so in all honesty, I had gone into this interview with the mindset that it was just another interview! I tried to keep an open mind, but I was also honest about what grades I saw myself teaching. Even though the position was unknown, I felt great about the school itself! Going through the interview I felt completely comfortable with the panel of staff members - it hardly felt like an interview at all! Once the initial nerves passed, I was able to completely be myself during the entire interview, so when they offered me a 4th grade position I had no problem saying yes. I knew I had found a school that would accept me for who I was and what I had to offer while also supporting my growth as a teacher. I knew that it was a perfect match for me to start off my teaching career. 

What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

There are so many aspects to my job that I love! It's exciting to look back and see how much I have grown as a teacher with just this one year of experience. I was challenged to try out different techniques to really figure out what worked best for my classroom and students. Sometimes this was a struggle, but always ended in a positive growth for my students and myself. Coming on the end of this year, I feel so much more confident in how I teach and cannot wait to see what new things I learn in the years to come. It's also been great to be surrounded by teachers who are so supportive and positive! They continue to show me knew ways of teaching as well as build me up in my struggles and congratulate me on my successes. But by far, the most gratifying aspect is seeing my students grow throughout the year. It is beyond anything I had expected. Looking back at where my students began and where they are now, it's like an entirely new class! I was always told that as a teacher, you will have many students where you will be one of the few stable things in their lives, but I never fully understood how true that is until this year. It feels like a lot of pressure at times, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I know God has equipped me to be able to help all of my students, and I just pray everyday that I can show them His grace. 

What was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?
The biggest challenge has been to give my students more control over their own learning. It is difficult to not want to take them step by step through new concepts, but giving them the freedom to discover and experiment on their own has been such a great lesson! I had to break out of my desire of being in control because that began to stress me out and I put way too much pressure on myself! It also wasn't helping my students. By allowing them to make new discoveries on their own, they are able to take ownership and appreciation for their learning! I have noticed that through trying different strategies to solve new problems/concepts, not only did they become more excited in what they are learning, they also learned the importance of perseverance. It has been so amazing for me to watch as their teacher as well! 

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

Grove City helped me in all aspects of teaching. I'm excited to see that I am using a lot of what I learned (inside and outside of my classes) as I teach now. I think the most beneficial part of my college education was truly teaching me how to see the potential in any student. I feel that I had strong relationships with many of my professors who shared their experiences with me; as a result, they inspired me to create similar experiences. I have come across many students that have given up on themselves and don't see their own value and it breaks my heart. I have had moments where I am at a loss for words and feel as though I can't get through to them. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is in the power of prayer and seeing students through God's eyes. It has truly opened up my eyes in seeing the potential God has placed in them and I have had so many experiences where the student's attitude will completely turn around, sometimes in a couple days and sometimes right in the moment! God's presence is undeniable and learning that has been of more value to me than anything. 


What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

Definitely go to Mrs. Snyder as you begin preparing your job search! I wish I would have taken more advantage of her as a resource, but I am so thankful that I did go to her because she helped prepare me in so many ways. I would also say, don't be afraid to put your name out there as much as possible, even if it's to places you don't think you'd want to go! I had no desire to move this far away from my home, but I came to the realization that I wanted to create as many opportunities as possible and trust God would open the right door. That is exactly what He did in my case. Looking back to the moment I said yes to this job, I have been shown so many ways that God has had His hand in my life since then. So get your name out there as much as possible and leave the rest in God's hands. I promise, you won't regret it for a second!


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

The best advice I could say is don't be afraid to try new things/ways of teaching and remember that it's your classroom. It took me about 4 months to finally realize that it was my classroom, but once I did, I saw a huge change in my teaching! I wasn't afraid to try new techniques in my teaching because I wasn't afraid of "messing up". You can't be afraid of that because that is how you truly improve your teaching and decide what works best for you as a teacher and your students. Each year, you will have new students and a new classroom, so being able to be flexible in the way you present different concepts will be such a helpful aspect!




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