Featuring Jennifer Hilterman '12
(Profiled: February 2014)
One of my classmates sent me a link online during my senior year. I
applied for a teaching position, but did not get the job. The next year
I connected with them again and mentioned that I had applied the year
I was struggling with the idea of being a teacher because I did not want
to be stuck inside four walls. I first got introduced to the idea of
teaching through one of my first jobs as a snowboard instructor. I really
enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and backpacking. This job allows
me to blend my training as a math teacher with my passion for the
outdoors. I also get to play more of a mentor role to my students. Since
this is a semester boarding school, I really get to know my students and
even spend some time in the dorms. After being an RA at GCC, I have
enjoyed working in the dorm life. I often hold class outside, and since
this is an independent school, I have a lot of freedom in what I teach and
how I teach. This school is very focused on living in community well. I
work with very skilled outdoor educators as well as academic educators. I
could see that this was a position where I could learn a lot and grow more
as an educator myself. I also get to go on backpacking, climbing, camping,
and paddling trips with the students.
As a teacher, the “ah-ha!” moments are, of course, the most gratifying.
Getting feedback from students is incredibly gratifying. One student said
that I was able to tie God into math in a way no other teacher had before.
Another student said he had discovered a love for math. Those moments are
awesome! It is also wonderful when I have a breakthrough with a student
as a mentor. Usually there is something that suddenly brings us closer and
opens the door for great conversations.
I had a really hard time having the confidence to tell parents that I know
what I’m doing. When parents would question the homework load, the
curriculum, or a student’s grade, I could not refer them to years of
Having dedicated, godly professors both in my math and education classes
provided me with good examples to model after. I have taken on many of Dr.
McIntyre’s teaching mannerisms. The Math Methods class gave me many items
to put in my “bag of tricks” that I still use quite often. I have
referenced those notes as well as my Math for Secondary Education notes
often. Occasionally I find myself referencing notes and tests from other
math classes. The study habits and organizational methods I developed by
persevering through heavy course loads has made the first year bearable
and even enjoyable.
Save your notes and resources from your classes. Ask to get involved in as
many things as possible during student teaching. I know it seems
overwhelming and impossible, but it will set you up for success wherever
you go. Try different things during student teaching. That is the time to
do it. During your first or second year, you will have too many other
things to juggle.
The more effort you put into your portfolio on an ongoing basis, the
better things will be for job searching for the first and even the second
year. Employers really are impressed with portfolios and tri-folds. Education Career Services know what they are doing so visit them early and
often! Choose a phone call over an email when you can. I know some of my
employers have been impressed by a handwritten thank-you note after
interviews as well. When choosing a position, give careful attention to
who your supervisor is. Working with great colleagues, and especially a
great supervisor, will make or break that job experience. The interview is
also you interviewing the supervisor to some extent.
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