By Emily Harrison Weir
Kristin Carey wanted to become the supportive teacher she longed for during elementary school. Rose Levine sought new credentials to widen her job possibilities. Morgan Pool wanted to start teaching after majoring in French as an undergraduate.
All three found that Mount Holyoke College’s coed Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program changed their perspectives and career prospects.
Becoming the teacher she wished she’d had.
Kristin Carey MA’14 knows what a powerful effect teachers can have—she had a terrible elementary school experience, but later teachers showed her how to excel. Now, she wants “to be that teacher for other students,” Carey said. “Children deserve someone who cares.”
She started college later than is typical, spending ten years working in a preschool and running a children’s playgroup before getting her BA. With that in hand, Carey wanted more—training that would push her as an educator and qualify her for a broader range of jobs.
Living in western Massachusetts, Carey said she’d heard that the reputation of Mount Holyoke’s MAT program was “impeccable.”
“The staff became supportive and caring mentors, and I loved being with the other program students—people who were lit up about education the way I am, not just going through the motions to get a job.”
Mount Holyoke’s teaching practicum—which lasts an entire school year—was “hugely beneficial,” Carey says. “That’s the best training there is for a new teacher. And having had a great practicum experience made me less terrified to start on my first day; I knew everything would be fine.”
In fact, Carey said many people were shocked to learn she was a first-year teacher because of the way she conducted her class. “I think that was due to having had so much time in the classroom before getting my own classroom.” She now teaches at a public elementary school in rural Massachusetts.
She’s clearly found her niche. “I think there’s nothing else worth doing,” Carey said.
It’s not too late to start teaching.
Morgan Pool MA’14 majored in French and international relations as a Mount Holyoke undergraduate. She’d never considered teaching until her junior year abroad, when she found herself teaching English at a private institute in France.
A year after graduation, she began taking education classes near her home in Colorado. But she quickly decided to finish her degree at Mount Holyoke.
“MHC made me the woman I am, so it was a no-brainer to come back for my master’s,” Pool said.
Coordinating her student life in Massachusetts with her Colorado life as an Army wife got complicated when her husband was deployed, but Pool was determined to complete her program. And the MAT faculty made it possible for her to practice-teach in both Colorado and Massachusetts and become certified in both states.
Pool recalled feeling “more than prepared to do what I needed to do” when she faced her own class for the first time. Today she teaches second grade at a public elementary school in Fountain, Colorado, where she implements lots of ideas “that came from the top-level instruction at Mount Holyoke College,” she said.
The MAT program’s courses and practicum led her to teach nearly everything differently, Pool added. “The MAT experience stepped up the game for me and made me realize that being an effective teacher today requires a lot more than what you remember from your own schooldays.”
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Rose Levine MA’14 used her undergraduate degree in biological illustration to teach through a nonprofit group, at a small private school, and as an environmental educator at a historic garden.
But—despite seven years of teaching experience—she felt isolated without mentors. She wanted to learn best practices from seasoned teachers. Levine also knew that a master’s would make her a more marketable job candidate
“I’d never had a student-teaching experience, but I’d been in the classroom for a while, so I wanted a program that would meet me where I was,” she said. And she found that Mount Holyoke tailors its program to individuals’ needs to an extent that larger programs can’t.
The program carefully matched Levine with two classroom placements where she could observe and work with experienced practitioners. “I learned a lot of strategies, and it was invaluable just watching how they spoke to their students,” she said. “Now I don’t just present material. I guide and coach, but the students are the ones discovering the material’s meaning and purpose.”
Levine carried this and other lessons learned at Mount Holyoke into her current job teaching fifth grade at the Graham and Parks School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“I still think about my cooperating teachers multiple times every day and consider how they would handle a situation,” she said. In short, “the MAT program completely revolutionized my approach to teaching.
The MAT program builds better teachers. Learn more.