At this time of year, high school seniors are busy completing college applications, which quickly transitions to making significant decisions such as where will I spend the next four years and what will I study? Colleen Ritzer, inspired by her pre-school teacher – known as “Miss Laura” to those in the Ritzer family – knew at the young age of three that she wanted to be a teacher and not only pursued, but achieved that dream.
First-year college students who received Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarships recently offered some timely advice for high school seniors considering a degree in education or seeking some direction on what course of study they should pursue. They also suggest ways in which to maximize the first year of college as an education major.
Danvers High graduate and Providence College student Rebecca Hardenstine encourages students entering college to obtain as much experience as possible, from day one.
“Whether it is teaching a CCD class, helping out at an after school program, or joining a club such as Tomorrow’s Teacher…the more time in a classroom, the better,” Hardenstine shares. “The only way you will truly know if teaching is your calling is by trying it.”
Haley O’Shea, a Danvers High graduate and student at Boston College encourages future – and potential – education majors to look within themselves to discover their passions.
“If you want to be a teacher, follow your heart and pay no attention to individuals who try to convince you that you should be something else,” O’Shea shared. “Follow your heart and don’t look back.”
Smith College student and Andover High graduate Meghan Johnson encourages students to question what is being taught and seek ways to improve one’s ability to learn.
“Don’t be afraid to criticize the learning environments that you are a part of,” states Johnson. “Part of being a good learner is knowing how to learn best. Talk with your teachers about how you think it could be improved. Do not accept your education for what it is. It is there to be changed and criticized. If you plan on working in education, you need to be able to see it in a critical eye.”
Danvers High graduate and Roger Williams University student Jenna Romano encourages students to approach a major in education with an open mind.
“The education field is constantly changing and I think it is really important to be flexible and not give up and change majors when there is a new policy or requirement,” explains Romano. “Not to mention, being open minded is an extremely valuable and important quality a teacher should demonstrate.”
The first recipient of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship from Nashoba Regional High School, and University of Delaware student, Clara Greszczuk challenges students to explore a number of different academic disciplines to broaden one’s wealth of knowledge that could someday be shared with future students.
“Take a variety of classes,” urges Greszczuk. “Most programs have breadth requirements in different fields, so you get to explore some topics that have always interested you. Don’t limit yourself by neglecting to explore different courses. Even if the subject isn’t something you think you’ll need for your future career, that doesn’t mean that you won’t gain a new perspective or interesting experiences.”
At St. Anselm College, Andover High graduate Casey Flanigan encourages students interested in education to “go for it.”
“A lot of people along the way may try to get you to change your mind and choose something else but teaching is such a rewarding career that it is definitely worth it,” shares Flanigan. “Don’t let anyone change your mind and follow your own dreams.”
Bates College freshman and Andover High graduate Sarah Rothmann has discovered influential rewards in looking outside of the classroom for learning opportunities and believes that students choose an education major to improve the learning and development of young children and adolescents.
“My advice would be to get involved in the community,” urged Rothmann . “Interacting with kids in the local school systems has really allowed me to apply and use my knowledge of education I have learned in the classroom.”
Lastly, University of New Hampshire student and Andover High graduate Katherine Rex also urges students to pursue their passions.
“Do what you love and don’t let anyone change your mind,” explained Rex. “My heart belongs to teaching and helping children and that is what I intend to pursue without anyone influencing my decision.”