When Alex Rauscher ’17 KAѲ graduated from Westminster this May, she became part of a special group of education majors: every May 2017 graduate of the Westminster College Education Department seeking a teaching license was employed as a teacher before the school year began this fall (read more about the 100% placement rate here). In the following conversation, Alex reflects on Westminster’s role in preparing her to teach and finding a place to begin her career.
What did you study at Westminster?
I was a Secondary Education major with a certificate in General Sciences and a minor in Spanish.
And what is your current position?
I’m teaching sophomore Biology at Jefferson City High School.
Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?
I started thinking about it during my sophomore year of high school. In Geometry class, I would always finish my work before everyone else. I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping other people with their work. It made me feel really good when I could watch someone understand a concept because I explained it to them.
How did Westminster’s professors help you along the way?
Dr. Jim Concannon is the advisor for all the future science teachers. He played a big part as my advisor, and as my professor. I also had science professors I really liked—Dr. Kenney-Hunt, Dr. Schmidt, and Dr. Zumwalt were just a few of my science professors who did an amazing job.
How did you find your position at Jefferson City High School?
Through a traditional application process. But it’s where my cross-country coach at Westminster taught for twenty-five years. And Dr. Concannon had other former students and friends of his who worked at Jeff City. So they both wrote really good recommendation letters and helped me get placed there.
What is teaching like so far?
It’s exciting and nerve-racking, and it’s a lot of work, but I expected it to be a lot of work, and I also expected it to be very rewarding, just like my student teaching experience was.
Did Westminster prepare you well for your job as a teacher?
I definitely think so. There’s nothing that compares to being in the classroom, and just having to go for it, but Westminster’s classes gave me the right resources. Once class in particular that did the most, by far, to prepare me for teaching was Classroom Organization and Management with Dr. Cowles.
Would you recommend Westminster’s Education Department to others who are interested in teaching?
100%. I’ve never had anyone tell me when I’ve gone into an interview that they were disappointed or not impressed that I graduated from Westminster. It’s an amazing place to say that you come from in the education field.
What advice do you have for future teachers just getting started in their studies?
Take advantage of your practicum experiences and student teaching experience. Spend as much time as you possibly can with the kids. I can’t stress enough just how important relationships with your students are. Especially as a secondary education major, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in your subject. But that’s only half of your job. The other half is teaching your students how to be good human beings.
Education majors at Westminster begin their in-classroom practicum experience during their freshman year. Learn more about Education at Westminster here.