B.A. in English, Minor in Educational Studies 2008
School of Education
September 1, 2008
Interest in Education, Art, and Languages Encouraged Community Engagement in California and Costa Rica
Katie Swain began taking her first sure steps towards a career in education as a senior in high school at Valley Christian High School in Cerritos, California. As an alternative to the traditional Senior T.A. positions offered at Valley Christian, Katie opted to work for one period a day in a 1st grade classroom at the high school’s affiliated elementary school campus. The few months that she spent working in that classroom provided her not only with the endless supply of anecdotes one would expect from being surrounded by the imaginative minds of five and six year olds on a daily basis, but also with a passion for teaching that she will carry with her into her professional career as an elementary school teacher. Since this first experience guiding and teaching groups of children she has sought to diversify her experiences within this interest by working with children daily as a Recreation Leader for the City of Cerritos. She accepted a position as a Recreation Leader in June of 2005 and has over the past three years planned and executed countless activity nights, after-school programs and summer day camps for children ages three to eighteen.
Katie received her B.A. in English from UC Irvine in 2008 and completed minors in Art History and Education. Following her experiences working in a 1st grade classroom in high school along with her lifelong interest in teaching, she began attending meetings for the Teachers of Tomorrow (TOT) Club at UC Irvine during her freshmen year in order to learn about the steps needed to become an elementary school teacher. She attributes much of her preparation for entering a Masters and Credential program to the knowledge she gained by attending T.O.T. meetings.
Through the Teachers of Tomorrow Club she discovered the Minor in Educational Studies at UC Irvine, which in turn led her to begin working with students in an after school program named THINK Together. She was placed in a school in Santa Ana, which was and is constituted in large part by English Language Learners whose native language is Spanish. She immediately became invested in the program, fueled by her interest in the way language is manipulated in everything from literature to daily conversation, an interest she developed through the course of her study in English and Journalism as well as in French, Italian, Spanish, and South-Asian Comparative Literature courses.
While Katie is a monolingual English speaker, she has been working over the last few years to acquire a greater proficiency in Spanish with the end-goal of ultimately becoming fluent. During a two week field study in Costa Rica, which she completed between her junior and senior years of high school, Katie had the opportunity to participate in a home-stay program with a family of five, a mother and her four children, ages two, eleven, fifteen and nineteen. As she worked to learn and communicate in Spanish, her host family worked to learn and communicate in English. A comfortable atmosphere of mutual or communal learning developed in which miscues became bonding moments between all of the students of language as both languages were affirmed and celebrated in the collaborative effort to aide and support one-another’s language acquisition.
Katie is currently in her first year in the Developmental Teacher Education program at the University of California, Berkeley where she is working towards a Masters of Arts Degree in Education along with a Multiple-Subjects Teaching Credential. As a first year student she has not yet begun focusing the topic of her M.A. paper although her interests are presently directing her towards a concentration on effective means of implementing arts integration activities into classrooms as tools to improve student literacy. Her interests are particularly in regards to the effectiveness of these tools in both the primary grades as well as in scaffolding language acquisition in English Language Learners and in students placed in dual-immersion classrooms.
Currently, Katie is working as a Student Teacher in Oakland, California in an Art class in which she interacts with students who span the elementary school years, from kindergarten through fifth grade. Three of the classes she works with are bilingual Spanish classes. Art is used at the school as an opportunity for students in bilingual Spanish classes to access English through tangible means as they practice their oral development by discussing their art and the processes and materials needed to create art by means of both Spanish and English discourse. The experiences Katie is having within this classroom are acting as practical foundations for the research that she will be pursuing over the next two years and further into her professional career.
Katie is excited to continue forward in her education and is greatly anticipating the opportunity to begin developing her interests within her own classroom. Zot!