Children's Literature Dual Degree Experience: Jillian Bailey

December 09, 2014

Dual-degree student Jillian Bailey (M.A. '15/MAT '15) is currently student teaching a class of 2nd graders at Horace Mann Elementary School. "I took CHL 403 Picturebook last year, knowing I would be in an elementary classroom this year, and that the books I was reading would have direct relevance to the grade level I am teaching now."

For dual-degree student Jillian Bailey (M.A. '15/MAT '15), many of the tools she has acquired in the Children's Literature program are already being put into practice. As part of the Master of Arts in Teaching portion of her degree, Bailey is currently student teaching a class of 2nd graders at Horace Mann Elementary School. "I took CHL 403 Picturebook last year, knowing I would be in an elementary classroom this year, and that the books I was reading would have direct relevance to the grade level I am teaching now." Bailey said the flexibility and design of the program sets students up for success. While balancing a full class load with a full-time job can be a challenge, Bailey described the program as well structured, with the first year dedicated to course work, which "gave me a solid foundation," she explained. "Now I feel ready in the classroom to see that theory put into practice, versus trying to do it at the same time."

Bailey, who hopes to teach in the 1st-grade range after graduation, does not take her position lightly. Sometimes her students reveal that reading at home is not something their families deem important. She takes note that any time she reads aloud to her class everyone pays attention. At that age, she said, kids "are still learning to read, so we are reading all the time," using text to assist with comprehension in all subjects--math, science, social and cultural studies. "The Children's Literature program at Simmons has given me a theoretical perspective behind the books that I am presenting to my students, and the ramifications--positive and negative--of those choices. I have this power with which I create the classroom library. That is the students' primary source of books when they are in school because they go to the main school library only once a week."

Among the unique benefits of pursing her degree in a school of library and information science, Bailey said, is studying alongside future librarians who bring their own experiences and resources to the table. Being "in classes with people who want to be librarians has certainly changed how I view children's literature," Bailey explained. "They have different perspectives on their role as a librarian and my role as a teacher. These are similar roles, but somewhere they depart. I have loved exploring where those points of departure are, and how we see our roles in relation to the children. I think it is important that both of those roles exist and are available for the students."

By Dean's Communications Fellow Lily Troia