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Urban Student Teaching Program Alumni Night Sparks Inspiration and Guidance

Student teachers and alumni from a past Alumni Return class.

This month, the Urban Student Teaching Program held its much-anticipated Alumni Night, an important event each semester that invites alumni back to share their experiences with current students. In this engaging class seminar, we welcomed eight alumni from the 2010-2021 who joined us to share their stories as teachers. This evening helps current student teachers learn about different teaching paths, hear first hand stories from alumni, and begin to think about their experience as a teacher. 

Our student teaching Alumni Return seminar class is a valuable opportunity for our current students to connect with local alumni who can provide insights and guidance based on their teaching experiences since leaving our program. As we focus on topics such as the first year of teaching, lessons learned, work-life balance, job searches, and networking, we experience the impact our alumni are making in the field of education and our current students receive advice that will serve them as they move forward in the profession.” -Nancy Friesen, MST, Urban Student Teaching Director

The seminar covered a wide array of topics, all aimed at preparing our students for the dynamic world of teaching. Their stories painted a vivid picture of the initial challenges and triumphs faced during the first two years of teaching, highlighting the importance of building a supportive community within educational institutions and the invaluable guidance received from the Chicago Center.

Kendra Grogan, SP’20, delved into the significance of creating a robust support system in the first few years of teaching. 

“This profession takes extraordinary stamina, effort, skills, discipline, and character. Having a support system and strong community is the only way to get through it. I built my community by having an open mind, open heart, and willingness to go the extra mile. When my grade level teammates and I had meetings, I approached them ready to learn. I listened to what they were saying and asked about things I didn’t know of- which was a lot my first year.”

She also reflected on the ways in which her support system benefited her teaching experiences. 

“The first year of teaching is like having the first day of work every single day for about 195 days depending on the contract. I could not have gotten through the 2022-2023 school year without my support system. My teammates gave me their time during lunch/after school after the worst days and celebrated the good days with me.”

Other alumni underscored the unifying power of shared educational experiences and the foundational skills provided by a broad-based education and reflected on the practical aspects of applying resources effectively in the classroom and the critical steps to finding success and fulfillment in the early stages of a teaching career.

The alumni testimonials not only served as a beacon of guidance for our aspiring teachers but also reinforced the value of the Urban Student Teaching Program in shaping competent, compassionate educators. As our current students forge ahead on their journeys, the insights shared during Alumni Night will undoubtedly serve as a cornerstone for their personal and professional growth. The Urban Student Teaching Program continues to celebrate the legacy of its alumni and the vibrant community it fosters, uniting past and present educators in the pursuit of excellence in education.

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