My name is Samantha and I am currently a senior at Elizabethtown College. I am pursuing a degree in Elementary and Special Education and will be graduating in May of 2011. My hopes after graduation are to attain a teaching position in either special education or general education to make a positive impact on the lives of the students that I will teach.
I am from a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania called Honesdale. I have lived there my entire life with my parents and younger sister. I attended high school there, where I participated in many activities including basketball, varsity softball, marching band, and National Honor Society. It was during my senior year in high school that I decided I wanted to become a teacher. Until this point I was not sure what field I wanted to pursue in college. Through an experience in community service learning, I got the opportunity to work in a first grade classroom each day where I assisted the teacher with organizational tasks and worked with a small group of the "lowest" students in the entire grade. After only a few weeks of getting to know these amazing children, I decided the course that I wanted my life to take from that point forward.
Ever since my senior year, I have had a passion for education and teaching all students, especially those who seem to learn in a different way from the rest of us. The summer after my freshman year in college, I worked as a paraprofessional/teacher's aide in an extended school year program for students with autism. In my experiences in both the elementary and middle school ESY programs, I learned so much about the students and their individualized and diverse needs. I taught them, but they taught me so much more. Students with autism are among the most widely misunderstood groups of children. Each student is so unique and bright in his or her own way, and as educators it is our job to find a way for these students to be able to share that knowledge with us.
That summer, I fell in love with autistic support, and have been going back to that classroom every summer since then. It is truly amazing to see how much the children have learned since my first summer with them. That is what drives me to want to be the best teacher that I can for the students who I will eventually teach in my own classroom. Each student comes to the classroom with diverse needs, whether they receive special education or not. I have made it my mission to ensure that my future students will receive the individual support and differentiated instruction that they need to reach their full potential within the general education setting and the special education setting.
In my experiences in the Education Department at Elizabethtown, I have had the opportunity to work in many general education elementary classrooms ranging from first to fourth grade. I have also had placements in autistic support, learning support, and emotional support classrooms. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed each one of these experiences and would love to attain a permanent teaching position in any of these settings. Each classroom of students is unique and they all bring with them different backgrounds and experiences. Whether working in special education or general education, there will always be diverse students who learn best from different teaching styles. It is my goal to meet these students where they are and work with them to achieve their highest potential.