It usually takes several years and some relocating to land a job that’s just perfect for you. Levin Hovest ’16, walked into his dream job even before his graduation from the College of Education!
Although it didn’t seem like it at first, all of the pieces came together for Hovest to be offered a full-time teaching position at his alma mater, Pandora-Gilboa High School, located about 15 miles west of the University of Findlay. Hovest had wanted to teach since the sixth grade, but felt he would need to relocate to get a position suited to his dual degree in history and AYA (adolescent/young adult) social studies.
Connie Leatherman, director of field experience, arranged for Hovest to do his student teaching at Pandora-Gilboa during fall semester 2016. Set to graduate in December 2016, Hovest was happily anticipating working with a familiar teacher. In July, a month before the school year began, Jeff Wise, Pandora-Gilboa principal, met with Hovest and explained that his cooperating teacher had accepted another position and would be leaving the district.
“He asked me if I wanted to take over the classroom while I was student teaching,” Hovest recalled. “The College of Education approved, as long as the high school hired a substitute to sit in the classroom while I taught since I didn’t have my license yet. Jeff was very open and honest about the situation and actually became my cooperating teacher.”
Initially, Hovest thought he was stepping in as a substitute and several questions ran through his mind until, in September, Wise offered him the position after graduation.
“I remember being speechless and so shocked,” Hovest said. “I was filled with joy, relief and excitement because I love this small community. For the longest time I thought I would have to leave my family, friends and hometown to find a teaching job in another state or country.”
Prepared for the Challenge
Essentially, Hovest jumped into being in charge of his classroom, while at the same time fulfilling his student teaching requirements. It required a solid background in his subject matter as well as knowing how to control a room full of teenagers. He credited the University of Findlay’s teacher preparation curriculum for his successful transition. College of Education students are sent out in the field beginning in their freshman year. Hovest read to students at Van Buren High School as a freshman, taught lessons at another high school as a sophomore and created portfolios and prepared lesson plans as a junior.
“The College of Education has the best program for preparing you for student teaching because you’ve already done it,” Hovest added.
Both the University of Findlay and co-workers at Pandora-Gilboa gave the new teacher their full support during that crucial first semester. Jim Taylor, College of Education field supervisor, observed Hovest’s class weekly and spent many hours giving advice over the phone. Principal Wise stopped by the social studies classroom often and Hovest’s co-workers came by his classroom during planning periods to offer advice and “made sure I had all the tips and secrets.” Lorissa Myer, who substituted in Hovest’s classroom for the duration of his student teaching, graded papers, helped with lessons and was an extra pair of eyes for any discipline problems.
An excellent choice
Why did Hovest choose the University of Findlay over other colleges offering a major in education?
“The day I took my visit I met the professors in the College of Education. Right away they made me feel like they were going to be there to help me every step of the way. There was also a wall of photos of former UF students who had landed teaching jobs and that showed me that these professors care about getting students a job right away,” Hovest remembered.
From that first campus visit to a full-time job teaching American history, world history, geography, sociology and psychology, Hovest is still reeling from his good luck in finding his dream job. He admitted that he loves the fact that he gets to come to work every day and teach eager students “many lessons of our ancestors.” He enjoys being a positive role model at Pandora-Gilboa, just like many of his co-workers were role models for him.
“My most memorable moment so far in my career is receiving birthday cards from many of my students that say how much they enjoy me being their teacher and how much of an impact I’ve made in their lives,” he said.