Behind the Desk of a Minor in Education
Emily Nichols

Emily Nichols is a senior from San Antonio, Texas, majoring in History with minors in Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Education. Getting an undergraduate education at Trinity has allowed her to explore her interests in history, while pursuing her goal of becoming a teacher. Currently Emily also works at her church in curriculum building and helps children in their educational pursuits.  We caught up with Emily to learn more about her experiences, and ultimate goal to be a future teacher. 

Q: Why did you decide to Minor in Education? 
Emily: I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a teacher and work with children. So when it came to choosing a college, I loved Trinity University's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. It just seemed like it was a good fit to do your undergrad at Trinity, without having to major in education; there was more flexibility in what you could do. I was excited that I would get to pursue my other passions, like history and the classics, while also doing the education minor. 

Q: What have your experiences been like in the program? 
Emily: I think they've all been really great. One of my favorite experiences is also one of my least favorites. It was the semester that the pandemic hit and we all went home in Spring 2020. I had a phenomenal class placement at the Advanced Learning Academy (ALA) in Dr. Hayward's class. The teacher was great, and I really connected with a student for my child study. And then it was sad because the school shut down, everybody went home, and we couldn't go back to the school. All of my experiences have been great, but that one stands out as it was a particularly good placement. Plus, it was exciting to be out in a classroom so early in the education program. 

Q: Can you elaborate on your placement? 
Emily: I was in a multi-age kindergarten/first-grade classroom. It was interesting to experience the two grade levels learning together and see the advantages and disadvantages that the teacher found in that setting. At ALA, students also move from one grade to the next in cohorts of Kindergarten through Grade 5, creating their own Professional Learning Community.

Q: What do you think has been the most valuable thing you've learned in the program?
Emily: I picked the special needs concentration for the minor. So I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned is awareness. Professors are so intentional about creating opportunities for diverse learners and diverse populations in classrooms. Understanding how that affects how people learn and how people work with each other has been fundamental to the way I’ve approached my jobs in childcare. It’s very applicable and makes a real difference. 

Q: Can you tell me about one of your favorite classes?
Emily: Right now, I'm in the Field Seminar in Elementary Literacy, and I didn't think I would like it because as a student, I didn’t love English or language arts or writing. So I was nervous to learn about how to teach it. On top of that, the class focuses on poetry, which I really don’t love. But Ms. Siller is very empowering. It's encouraging that even if you don’t like poetry, you can learn to like it and teach other people to like and enjoy it too. It's been a fun shift of my perspective. I especially like that we are back in schools working with kids.. 

Q: Can you tell me about one of your favorite education professors and why?
Emily: Dr. Allen will probably have to be my favorite. She's so knowledgeable and passionate, and I really liked the way she talks about things in the research that she showed us in her Child and Adolescent Development class. It's one of those classes that I felt could get bogged down in research, but she kept it really fun and interesting. And then, I was able to develop a relationship with her, and she became my advisor. She's just been so approachable. I can email her and be like, “This might be a dumb question, but please help me!” Particularly in applying for graduate school right now, I need to make sure I'm doing this right, and she's very reaffirming and encouraging.

Q: What are your future plans?
Emily: When I was in sixth grade, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I come from a big family of teachers, and I've always loved being with people younger than me. I have done a lot of work in my church as a children’s ministry intern and a student ministry intern, so I've gotten to see how church offices work and how teaching and curriculum building play into that. But that's a different situation than a public school. So I definitely want to go to graduate school next year, hopefully at Trinity, and get my teaching certification. Then, I’ll look for opportunities to go into the public school system or a church setting where I can combine teaching and curriculum work in the next five years. 

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