“I like seeing smiles on my student’s faces, receiving hugs from students and hearing ‘You’re a good teacher.'”
Kirstie Ernst graduated from The University of Findlay in 2013 with her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. She knew she wanted to be a teacher from the time she was very young. “My grade school teachers are people I still think about every day and still look up to. They had such an impact on my life. I knew I wanted to be just like them,” Kirstie said.
Kirstie is now proving to have an impact on her own student’s lives as a general education teacher at Summit Academy in Columbus, Ohio. She was recently recognized as an “Extraordinary Teacher” by her building principal and the CEO of Summit Academy, a statewide charter school system. She has also been nominated as “teacher of the month” several times within her school building since graduating three years ago.
Kirstie went on to tell us what she likes best about her career and how she feels The University of Findlay prepared her for this role.
What do you like best about being a teacher?
I like seeing smiles on my student’s faces, receiving hugs from my students and hearing them say, “You’re a good teacher”. I like seeing my students succeed and be able to show me that they understand what I am teaching them. I also enjoy working with students with disabilities, because their own uniqueness makes them all learn differently, which provides a good challenge.
How do you think The University of Findlay helped prepare you for your career?
With all of the information that The University of Findlay and the College of Education provided me, I have been able to take on many leadership roles at my school. Not many third year teachers can say this. The College of Education taught me much more than just how to teach. There is so much paperwork that has to be done outside of the school day. I was taught how to do a majority of the behind-the-scenes work of a teacher from The University of Findlay’s College of Education. Not many other colleges provide this opportunity. Since I have this knowledge, I am able to work on the paperwork with little guidance. This leads to me being able to focus more of my time on my students and their individual needs, as well as taking on leadership roles at the school. Let’s just say, I would not be where I am today without all of the knowledge and skills I learned from UF’s College of Education.
The University of Findlay says that they equip students for meaningful lives and productive careers. I can say that this statement is true. My life is meaningful because I get the opportunity to make an impact on my students’ lives both in a personal and educational manner. Seeing my students succeed makes an impact on my life and career because my students have shown great growth towards their learning goals. Also, test scores show I am teaching them and they are learning. My leadership roles and being acknowledged as an “Extraordinary Teacher” also show I am having a productive career.
Did you have any one-on-one mentoring from faculty, or were there faculty who made an impact on your life?
There were many! Missy Recker provided me with great knowledge and examples of how to make learning fun and meaningful for elementary students. Allison Baer showed me how to make reading fun for all students. She also taught me how to succeed at teaching struggling readers. Sue Brooks taught me how to work with students with disabilities and how to write IEP’s. Connie Leatherman made sure I got the most out of my field experience.
How did you choose your career path?
I love children. I also really like seeing young children learn something new and then get all excited that they learned something. My teachers in grade school were great at teaching me and I had a lot of fun learning from them. They are people I still think about every day and still look up to. Since they had such an impact on my life, I wanted to become just like them. My college professors at UF showed me the positives of becoming a teacher and how I would make a great career out of being a teacher.
What advice do you have for students making their college decision?
Choose a college that fits you both personally and academically. You will get the most out of your education if you put your best effort into your schoolwork. If you make your college education meaningful and productive it will lead you to a meaningful life and productive career.