Rebecca Oliver (2013)
- Henrietta, N.Y.
- B.A. Childhood and Special Education 1-6 (Plus certifications in: Students with Disabilities 1-6, and 7-12, Math 7-12, and Literacy B-12)
- 5th grade Math, Science, & Reading Teacher at Williamson Middle School (Williamson CSD)
In September (2017) I began working as a fifth grade teacher at Williamson Middle School. I had spent the previous four years working as a math or special education teacher in districts around Rochester, NY. I attribute much of my success to the preparation I received from NU, the support and guidance of NU’s faculty and staff, and the program’s opportunities for certification extensions. Upon graduation, I held four certifications (Childhood and Special Education 1-6, Students with Disabilities 1-6 and 7-12 and Math 7-12)
I recommend that everyone seriously consider pursuing extensions to increase marketability and overall knowledge of various facets of the teaching profession. Interviewers have told me that my application has been put at the top of the pile solely because of my certifications. Take the opportunity to consider and research certification options for you.
Much of my success in my current position has also been a direct result of past teaching experiences and coursework at NU. Senior classes at Niagara helped me to write resumes and cover letters and offered opportunities for mock interviews. Other courses helped me to write and read IEPs- a skill that even as a general education teacher is especially relevant (I am currently teaching in an integrated co taught classroom). These “real-world” assignments were directly applicable to the job search and life after employment.
More so than anything else, as I reflect on my time at Niagara, the advice i would give to future teachers and current education majors is to really put in effort - in class, in your placements, and during numerous opportunities for networking and professional development. Go to the school-sponsored job fair, stay late when student teaching to help your cooperating teacher make lesson plans, and look for summer jobs that might help you in the teaching world. Like anyone else, I worked different part-time jobs during school breaks, but as I started to progress in my program, I dedicated myself to finding employment that might make me a better teaching candidate. I knew that working as a paraprofessional would be a great option since it didn’t require a certification but would allow me to reap relevant teaching experience.
I continued my professional education at SUNY Brockport. I pursued a degree in literacy instruction while I was a full time teacher. While it was difficult to balance coursework and employment it was all worth it when the end result means that I get to go to a job that I am excited about every day.