Catherine McDonough

Katie McDonough '16 '17SW On Empowering Students

What program are you in at Simmons?

I'm in the Education 4+1 program. I graduated with my BA in English in May 2016 and in May 2017, I'll graduate with my MA in elementary education. I'm also getting a dual licensure in general elementary education and moderate special needs education for grades 1-8.

What drew you to your program?

I've known that I wanted to be an elementary school teacher for pretty much my whole life. This program allows me to get my MA in a much shorter time frame. It also allows me to get a dual certification in general education and special education. Having both certifications will make me a more skilled, flexible and engaging teacher.

What made you make the move to come to Simmons?

I knew I wanted to be in Boston, and I was really impressed with the education program at Simmons. I liked that Simmons was a small school, and I could tell from my visits that it had a really open and welcoming community. It had the atmosphere I was looking for.

Tell us about your role with Education Sparks.

I worked with Education Sparks for three years, which was an after-school program that serviced students at the Mission Hill School in Jamaica Plain. The program was run as part of the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service. I worked as the program director, so each year, I hired a group of students from Simmons and other Colleges of the Fenway to provide homework help for students in grades K-6 every afternoon.

My job was to manage schedules, track student and tutor attendance, order supplies, and plan and implement activities for different groups. I would meet regularly with the directors and other administrators of the Scott/Ross Center to discuss how the program was going, how the students and tutors were adjusting, and how the students were progressing towards their goals.

What are some lessons you've learned from your community service?

Patience and perseverance. It takes a long time and a lot of attention to detail – but seeing even the slightest bit of progress in a student or tutor is indescribable. Because I stayed at this program for three years, I got to know some students very well, and I saw them undergo immense long-term growth. From day one, it was clear to many of them that education was a privilege, but I don’t think the students ever realized how much of a privilege it was for me to watch them grow.

I went into this job hoping to empower students to be their best. Reflecting on my experience, I look at how much of myself I invested in this service and how it helped me become a better version of myself.

What's your Simmons moment?

My Simmons moment comes in small bursts, a little bit each day. 

It comes when I hear an administrator or teacher from a school rave about teachers who graduated from the program I'm in. It comes whenever I feel like I am not cut out to be an elementary school teacher and then suddenly realize that one of my students has started to write his 9’s the right way after writing them backwards for three months straight, despite constant reminders. There is at least one tiny moment about everyday in which it hits me that I am part of an exemplary teacher preparation program. 

It's all of these little moments where I realize that Simmons is where I am supposed to be. Thanks to Simmons, I'm cut out to be teacher.

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