Jessica Makona '10

I graduated from W&L in 2010 and went off to China. I will be repatriating back to the U.S. summer 2016.

Collaborating to make impactful educational experiences produces "win-win" situations. What I appreciate most about W&L's teaching education program is its department's attention to building dedicated partnerships with its local community schools. W&L and the community school districts do not just partner together simply because the education department needs somewhere to place its teaching candidates. Both parties have a legitimate friendship and want the other to succeed. They are personally invested in each other to produce confident, quality teachers. Their relationship is symbiotic. W&L is given community support and space to test and improve educational practices. The schools benefit by receiving extra support in their classrooms from eager candidates. They also benefit from innovative ideas and methodologies being introduced. W&L teacher candidates are welcomed because of the rapport W&L professors have for developing and training competent student teachers.

Candidates get strong support from two sets of educators when they choose to enter the teacher education program at W&L. Mentor teachers take time to work intimately, not just with these student teachers, but also with their professors to ensure that they are providing the best care and work challenges for the teachers coming into their schools. They are invested in seeing their new partners grow and strengthen as future professionals wherever they go. I appreciated being treated as a professional right from the start. My mentor teacher did not hesitate to give me her teaching desk. I was not asked to copy what she did or how she taught. She allowed me to practice right away what I had been learning about in my coursework and encouraged me to follow though with my own style and philosophy of teaching. In general, the level of trust that candidates are given in the local schools is a testament to W&L excellence in preparing qualified teachers.

My overall conversations and transition into teaching full-time on my own were positive and I attest my positive experience to the learning I received under my department professors. Right away, I could "see" all the developments, philosophies, practices, methodologies, and academic jargon play out right before my eyes. Moreover I felt confident to deliver what I needed to deliver to my students. I do not believe I could have survived and thrived teaching primary students in international schools overseas right after college, had it not been for strong foundational studies and real-life opportunities my teacher education professors provided me. I was ready to go! I get excited when I get W&L News and read about the newest collaboration project that the Teacher Education department is doing with the community schools. I can imagine how exciting and comforting it must be for the candidates to be surrounded by educators who -working together- are rooting for their success. It their strong ties with the community that tied my decision to be an educator.