Sarah Catherine Welch '11

I remember first meeting Washington and Lee's stellar education professors at the academic fair for first year students held each fall in Stemmons Plaza. I walked right up to an inviting Professor Haley Sigler, who was passing out apples to prospective students. Seven years later I cannot recall our exact conversation, but I left with two apples and a sense of excitement about the beginning of my journey into elementary education.

My time in the Lexington City and Rockbridge County schools was invaluable to my current position as a First Grade teacher. My favorite memories of my undergraduate career involve the field trips with my student teaching class at Waddell Elementary and the surprise party they threw me on my last day. The hundreds of hours that I spent learning, working, and teaching in these schools set the foundation for taking leadership of my own classroom in Atlanta, Georgia.

All colleges and universities offer practicum opportunities with their Education classes, but W&L's Teacher Education Department provided something different - an investment in me as a leader. While a student, the Teacher Education department fostered my academic potential by designing a Spring Term course to match my desire for teaching in an urban community and collaborating on an independent study to design future Elementary Math curriculum. After graduation, the professors in the department and the teachers from the local classrooms became my greatest professional supports, whether we are sharing a meal in Lexington, connecting weekly through social media, or joining me in Atlanta this summer for an Education Technology conference. It is this unique combination of academic rigor and consistent support during and after my time at Washington and Lee University that makes our department truly unmatchable!