Where Are They Now? Joanna Sorensen '12

May 21, 2014

Joanna Orensen

Joanna works as a Special Education Teacher at Hardy Elementary School in Arlington, MA.

What was your major at Simmons?

I studied psychology and special education.

What is a typical day like at your job?

I service all of the students who receive special education services through Individualized Education Plan (IEPs) in grades K-3, so I'm always on the go! I typically work with my students in their classrooms, although I have a few students that I see in the learning center for more specialized academic support. I also co-teach with a general education teacher in a third grade classroom a few times a week.

What was the job application process like for you?

It was a lot of work! I started looking for jobs last year around March. I started my search by going to a Simmons Career Education fair to gain more information and to hopefully set up a few interviews. I realized that it was really early for schools to be hiring at that time. I started applying to jobs on SchoolSpring (many school districts will post jobs on that site) and got a few interviews as the school year started winding down. It was nerve-racking, because I like things planned out and set for the next year, but it was worth waiting! I ended up getting an interview in Arlington through a connection, and everything fell into place!

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is working directly with my students. I focus a lot on building positive and trusting relationships with my students, and it has been wonderful seeing them grow this year! They have accomplished so much.

What was your favorite class you took at Simmons? Why?

I took so many great classes with talented professors, but I have to say my favorite class was Abnormal Psychology with Dr. Feldman. It was the first class where I really started to learn about psychological disorders. I wanted to take the class with Dr. Feldman because I had heard he was an amazing professor (and he is!!) and he also has his own private practice. We often connected what we learned in class to his clinical practice and case studies.

If you could come back and take one class at Simmons what would it be?

I'd love to take a class through the School of Social Work! I work very closely with the social worker at our school and we have been doing a lot of collaborating for school-wide interventions and behavior plans.

How has it been transitioning into a young professional?

It's been a big change. I moved into my first apartment in Somerville! It has been fun getting to know my roommates and decorating our place. My schedule is very different than it was in college. I work Monday-Friday and see students from about 8:10 to 2:10 (with a lunch break and prep period), but usually stay after school to prep and complete paperwork. I'm still trying to find the balance of work and spending time with my family and friends, but I'm getting better! Many of my friends from college have moved, so I'm also trying to make sure I stay in touch with them.

How did Simmons help prepare you for your career?

Simmons helped build my character and my career skill set. Through the combination of rigorous classes and internships, I gained the experience necessary to become a qualified teacher. My social network of friends and professors helped me grow more confident and sure of myself.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see myself still working in the field of education. I could see myself going back to school for another degree or getting an additional teaching license. I'm using this time to gain experience and to see what interests me the most in education. I could see myself specializing in reading or school psychology later in life.

What advice would you give to the current Simmons undergraduate students?

Be tenacious and don't give up on what you want to accomplish. Take advantage of all Simmons has to offer, and don't forget to have fun during those four wonderful years!