B.A. in Literary Journalism, 2008; Master of Arts in Teaching, 2012
School of Education
March 1, 2012
“Teaching is a job that I actually enjoy more and more the longer I do it.”
“So I started out for God knows where. I guess I’ll know when I get there.” –Tom Petty, Learning to Fly
These lyrics were central to my life’s journey for several years as I ventured across the country, the world, and the academic spectrum. Now, as a student in UC Irvine’s Master of Arts in Teaching with a Multiple Subject Credential program, I can tell I’m finally about to arrive.
My background isn’t typical for someone getting into this profession. I didn’t know from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. In fact, I didn’t really care much for school from ages 12 to 24. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why that was. I think it would have helped if I had understood that creativity was not only acceptable, but also desirable, in the real world. Although my senior year of high school was filled with mostly art classes with a year of AP English, I started college at the University of Kansas as a Computer Engineering major. I dropped out three semesters later, convinced that education just wasn’t for me.
Five years later, I found myself attending UC Irvine as a Literary Journalism major. In engineering, I had struggled to keep a C average. As a nonfiction creative writer, I was able to maintain above a 3.5 GPA. I spent a semester in South Africa through the University of California’s Education Abroad Program, earning college credits towards graduation while traveling to the opposite end of the globe.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Literary Journalism and a minor in English in 2008, I knew there were two career paths I really wanted to explore: journalism and education. I wrote freelance for a few local papers and websites, substitute taught, and worked a corporate catering delivery job for a year. Then a friend told me that I should think about teaching English in South Korea.
I jumped on the idea almost immediately. This was my big chance to see if I really liked teaching at the professional level, writing lesson plans, seeing the same students every day, watching them learn and grow. It was also a chance to get paid to do some globetrotting. I landed at a fantastic elementary school in Gangneung, South Korea. You probably haven’t heard of it yet, but you’ll actually see live footage of the city where I taught English when the Winter Olympics are held there in 2018. I can say that I’ve snowboarded on Olympic slopes. I can also say that I realized that teaching is a job that I actually enjoy more and more the longer I do it. When my time in Korea was finished, I decided to return to UCI in order to obtain a formal teaching credential and a Master of Arts in Teaching.
For student teaching, UCI placed me at Chaparral Elementary in Ladera Ranch, where I co-teach fifth grade under the supervision of Johnnie Perry, a fellow world traveler and male elementary school teacher. People are often surprised that I want to teach elementary students, but my time at Chaparral has reinforced what I had already suspected from subbing in California and teaching in Korea: Upper elementary students are both eager to learn and more capable of higher level thinking than many expect. I try to accommodate students who thrive in the traditional school structure as well as those who, like me, think a little outside of the box. And I’m excited to see where, through this program, I get next.