Tag Archives: student profile

Student Teaching

Mariah Miller wrote an article about her experiences student teaching. Read more below to learn what to expect!

Mariah Miller with her team during Halloween

I never thought I’d be someone who would get excited to be awake at 5:30am. Student teaching has done that for me. Every morning I get up, get ready, and head off to teach 7th grade English Language Arts at Conestoga Valley Middle School. As an English education major, this is the capstone of my entire college career. Everything that I’ve done has led up to this experience. It’s almost surreal to think about, in a sense.

I didn’t always want to be a teacher. I went back and forth between multiple majors for some time. For a semester, I majored in Biology, then switched to undecided, and then went back to English Education. Why did I choose to become a teacher? Mainly, I just want to teach students how to be good people. If I can teach one student how to be a genuinely good person, I’ll know I’ve succeeded. The thing about being an educator is that you are teaching the students so much more than just your subject area entails. You’re there to help them grow not just as as learners, but as productive people in society. Teaching is not an easy job to have, despite what some people think. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far during my Student Teaching semester:

  1. There is so much more to teaching than you think. You’re constantly thinking, changing plans, and adapting. You have to manage the classroom while simultaneously thinking on your feet. Kids will ask you questions that you did not even think would be on their radar. In order to counteract the everyday spontaneity of being a teacher, over prepare and organize. You can never prepare too many activities, or think of too many ways that students could misunderstand. Put yourself in your students’ shoes. What questions would you have about this activity/assignment if you were this student? Outside of the classroom, keep an agenda and calendar with all of the important assignments/lessons you will have to do. You’ll thank yourself later.
  2. Learning in college classes what teaching is and actually teaching are two entirely different ball games. Of course, the theories and methods are important, but remembering that these are actual individuals with their own unique backgrounds is more important. I can’t stress it enough – get to know your students first and foremost. If you don’t establish rapport with students, it’s almost impossible to get them to want to learn. Your classroom environment is so much stronger when learners know that you care about them and want them to succeed. They’re not afraid to fail when they know you are there to catch them when they do.
  3. You can’t predict what is going to happen on a daily basis. You may have a plan, but that plan may fall flat and you will have to improvise on the spot. Don’t be afraid to try new things, because your mentor will be there to help you! It’s ok for things to not work out because it’s a learning experience. Failure = growth!
  4. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. If you find yourself struggling, ask for help. You have so many people around who want you to succeed.
  5. It’s not as scary as you probably think it is. Throughout your professional bloc, you will pick up on the ins and outs of your school/classroom (using the printer, taking attendance, organizing student work, grading, disciplining, managing the classroom, etc.). When you start your student teaching semester, your first main focus is integrating yourself back into the classroom. Your mentor won’t just throw you to the sharks without any support. You gradually ease into taking over the classroom.

Lastly, I’ve learned to just have fun and enjoy this valuable time of my developing professional career. It may seem like a semester is a long time, but it flies by when you’re the one teaching. Student teaching has made me more excited than ever to have a classroom of my own one day. I’ve never been so sure of a career in my life. As you take the next step into student teaching, remember these words. I promise they will help to guide you and make student teaching one of the best experiences of your life.

-Mariah Miller

Do you have any advice for student teachers or any experiences other students could benefit from about student teaching? If so, contact Rachel Hicks with your story.

Student Profile: Maria Rovito

Maria Rovito is a grad student here at MU and works as the head graduate assistant. A few of her poems were recently published on a website called Ex-Ex Lit and in the magazine Brave New World. 

I am an MA student in English interested in American literature and disability studies. I have been a student at Millersville since 2012 and I plan on graduating in May 2019. After that, I hope to complete my PhD and find a job somewhere as either a literature/disability studies/medical humanities professor, or as an editor or publisher. I have also been a graduate assistant to the English department since 2017, and this year I was fortunate enough to become the head graduate assistant. It’s a lot of work but I enjoy working with faculty and students in class and for research projects.

Being a grad student is almost a completely different experience from being an undergrad—not only do you have to complete assigned readings, you usually have to do extra work in order to supplement the readings you are assigned. For example, most of what I have learned about disability studies has been a product of my own independent research: meaning I incorporate this knowledge into my classes, but I haven’t directly learned about it through my coursework. Luckily, Dr. Emily Baldys was hired this year, and I now have a mentor who researches and teaches critical disability studies and the theoretical implications of medicine and medical knowledge. It’s a growing field, but hopefully one day I will get hired and use what I have learned in an academic setting.

My poetry is considered conceptual or cyberpoetic—meaning that I work more as an information processor rather than a traditional “author.” I was a fan of conceptual and post-language poetry before taking Dr. Halden-Sullivan’s postmodern American poetry class, particularly authors such as Matthew McIntosh and Claudia Rankine. I find the Internet to be a fascinating place for the sheer amount of information one is able to find, and this is reflected in my poetry. Who is responsible for this information? Why do we have access to certain things, and others are blocked? I believe the Internet and technology is destroying what we deem to be classic “literature,” as we are writing less for humans and more for cyborgs, robots, and aliens—beings that are considered post-human and postmodern.

I particularly enjoy Kenneth Goldsmith’s concept of “uncreative writing”—meaning a process of writing where nothing is original, and everything is taken from an outside source. Some of my poetry is taken from medical documents, such as the DSM, or from random places on the Internet: government websites, chatrooms on Reddit, or I look at the source code for websites and transform it into code poetry. I find that the author as a processor objectively looks at this information and copies it directly into their poetry—there is no subjective, emotional involvement in conceptual poetry. I have read a thousand poems about grandma’s death or someone’s love life; we don’t need any more. Not to say these emotions aren’t valid; however, I am not interested in universal human experiences.

I submitted three of my poems to Ex-Ex-Lit, and the editor contacted me and said they wanted to use one of my poems in a magazine called Brave New World.

Right now I am more focused on getting my academic work published in research journals, rather than getting my creative work out there. I wrote over a hundred poems for Dr. Halden-Sullivan’s class, and I think I have years of content for submissions to magazines. I’m not sure how helpful getting creative work published is for literature and critical theory academics. I think the more diverse my skills are, the better chance I have of landing a solid academic job. I submit abstracts to as many conferences and journals as I can in the hopes that my research is making a positive impact on the discipline. I don’t think I’m the future Foucault or Derrida, but I do think my work is challenging traditional notions of what we call “literature” and all its implications.

Maria Rovito

Internship Profile: Hadassah Stoltzfus

Hadassah Stoltzfus interned with Empower Hope, an organization that is breaking the cycle of poverty & creating a new path of purpose by training indigenous leaders to empower vulnerable children.

“So you’re going to teach?” As every English major knows, a ready response to this question is a necessity. While teaching is a worthwhile and impactful profession, I could not see myself at the head of a classroom, but my internship this past summer with Empower Hope was an encouragement that I have other options to use my English degree.

I first saw the posting for a “Content/Creative Writer Intern” on ELCM’s website. I was unfamiliar with Empower Hope, so I read extensively on their website, growing increasingly excited about the work they were doing in Kenya. With sustainability in mind, the organization, though still in the infancy stages, had designed a mentorship model to equip local leaders to train and educate the next generation.

Poverty tends to be cyclical. Those that are born into families living on one to two dollars per day rarely find the tools to start a new life, and so the pattern of barely subsisting continues. In response, Empower Hope provides education and business training using local leaders to implement the projects so that communities can be transformed from the inside out. Where foreign aid has failed to remedy the problem of poverty, Empower Hope sees an opportunity to fix the root of the issue, and it starts with seeing individuals for their inherent worth. Empower Hope calls it “giving a face to the invisible.”

During my internship, I wrote a variety of content, most of which was marketing related, such as radio ads, presentations, promo scripts, and letters requesting sponsorship. I got a window into the workings of a not-yet-established non-profit which had its challenges, namely a lack of structure. However, the longer I worked with Empower Hope, the more I understood their goals and how they spoke, which helped me to complete writing projects with limited supervision.

An upside of working in a short-staffed office was the chance to do meaningful work. The staff treated me as an expert in my field and took my opinion seriously despite my being only an intern, an experience that would probably have been different had I been at an established, fully-staffed organization.

Empower Hope excels in recognizing individuals’ strengths and putting them to use. A highlight was creating illustrations for a kids’ booklet on poverty that they were creating to hand out at events. Despite being hired to write, I got to change hats for a week to work in the artistic realm.

Overall, the experience was a good window into the daily life of non-profit work. My internship presented me with alternative avenues to use English, and it was exciting to know that I was indirectly contributing to the work of bringing hope to people in poverty.

-Hadassah Stoltzfus

Student Profile: Rachel Hicks, English BA

Rachel Hicks
Rachel Hicks

Rachel Hicks, a first-year English BA major at Millersville University, somehow always knew this was where she was going to end up. Maybe not right here outside Amish country, but definitely this more generalized here, at a university full of kind people studying nerdy things like books and language and the true nature of being alive. As a child, Rachel was the type of kid to see the “Summer Library Reading Challenges” as just that, a personal challenge. The library would ask for three books a week? Rachel would read 15. The library only had 30 slots on the Summer Books Tracking Sheet? Rachel would make her own and print out five. Growing up in a family as the oldest daughter meant she had something to prove, and for some reason that meant blowing her little brothers out of the water when it came to books and reading. Her love for literature stems from picture books, YA novels, poetry, high school English classes, and the idea that humans will never be able to explain or understand everything, though we tragically, doggedly try.

Rachel and a friend performing a slam poem
Rachel and a friend performing a slam poem

Now as a pretend-adult in college, Rachel is involved with the English Club, George Street Press, and WIXQ. More recently, Rachel works with the English Department collecting alumni profiles, writing stories about current students, and managing the department’s social media. Listening to the stories of past and current students is inspiring – an English degree from Millersville unlocks unlimited potential for creativity and career trajectories.

Not all people who love to read as children become English majors, or even continue reading as adults. English majors have this need to not only devour books, but to let those ideas marinate in their brains for the inevitable creation of their own works. Writing takes the intangible and makes it concrete for the reader, opens doors for possibility and revelations that a person might never have on their own. Rachel, like other people in this major, feels that innate need to explain the world and the strange nature of humanity, even if most of life feels frustratingly ineffable.

Student Profile: Gabrielle Redcay, Digital Journalism

Gabby Redcay
Gabby Redcay

Gabrielle Redcay, a Digital Journalism Major, will be graduating this spring with a resume full of different, interesting internship opportunities she experienced over the past four years at Millersville University. From interning at a newspaper to blogging about food, Gabrielle has seen the positive impacts internships have on narrowing down a career path or building necessary work-place skills.

Starting as a content strategist, Gabrielle was a content writer for the digital marketing company Income Store where she performed search engine optimization research. She worked with teams to discuss content and plans for improving return on investment.

Since then, Gabrielle has been working for Millersville in the Communications Department as a Communications Assistant. In this job, she creates press releases for the community, runs social media accounts, and conducts interviews with the faculty, staff, and students of Millersville for articles in University publications. It was through this job that Gabrielle had the opportunity to intern with La Vos Lancaster over a summer.

La Vos Lancaster, Lancaster County’s only publication focused on the local Hispanic community, gave Gabrielle the opportunity to witness all aspects of running a print publication. Pushed out of the classroom and out of her comfort zone, she was forced to stretch herself and meet real people while interviewing for current event, profile, and feature stories. This internship was especially satisfying because the skills she learned at the paper mirrored her classes the next semester; it was easy to see how her classwork was applicable to the real world. Even while on the job Gabrielle was always networking for new opportunities; it was by interviewing for the paper that she met her next internship opportunity through Jim Chaney.

Gabrielle Redcay

All it took was one email and Gabrielle found herself interning for Jim Chaney, a traveling blogger from Uncovering PA. The Millersville Internship Office is very willing to work with students to help them find the best internships, and Gabrielle found it easy to collaborate with them in establishing this internship. Gabrielle always joked that she would love to become a food blogger someday–and Jim Chaney helped her realize that her dreams could easily become a reality. Internships, especially ones with companies or people you are less familiar with, can open the world up for different employment opportunities.

Internships, while great resume builders, also offer necessary skills and experiences for the real-world job-market after graduation. Gabrielle would like to tell Millersville University students to enter the search for internships and to be open to new experiences. Millersville is very connected to the real world and it is important to take advantage of that – learn from everything!