Three Keene State College students and alumna reflect on how the student teaching portion of the education program helped further their abilities in the field of education.

2015 alumna Laryssa Fortier said that she did not enter into her first year of college knowing that she wanted to become a teacher. Fortier said that she went to the University of Tampa her first year and studied marine biology. However, Fortier added that she quickly realized that marine biology was not what she enjoyed doing and transferred to KSC.

“I have always loved working with kids. I knew quite a few people in the education program at Keene and decided to take the introductory level course for the program, and I fell in love with it,” Fortier said.

As Fortier progressed through the coursework in the education program, she said that the work became much more exciting and rewarding once she got to enter classrooms and experience first-hand the things she had learned about in various lectures. However, Fortier added that she wished the student teaching portion came earlier in the program.

“There is no way to be sure that teaching is right for you from sitting in a lecture; you have to be immersed in a classroom of children on a regular basis to know for sure. I saw some fellow education majors reach their junior year in Methods 1 and realize it wasn’t for them. For this reason I think there should be experiences in classrooms earlier on in the program,” Fortier said.

She continued, “I loved the time that I got to spend in the elementary classrooms. I learned so much. I sometimes felt as though the college portion was very extensive. There was so much work that sometimes it was overwhelming on top of a second major and job.”

Fortier said, although there were some stressful days during student teaching and days where she was pushed beyond her comfort zone, Foshe felt that these difficult days were the only way to grow in the profession and that she was able to recognize this on the days that did not go so well. During such days, Fortier saidshe never questioned that teaching was what she wanted to do.

“The greatest asset that I got from student teaching was the boost in confidence in the classroom. Confidence is such a major factor with teaching or being a leader of any kind and this hands-on experience really provided me with it,” Fortier said.

Fortier said she student taught the fall semester of 2015 and graduated that December. A few weeks after graduation, Fortier said that she interviewed for a long-term subbing position in a local elementary school and got the position. Fortier said that she has been in that same position for three months now and added that the principal has set her up with another job once her current one comes to an end. Fortier said she is very grateful for the way KSC prepared her for such jobs and helped her to be so successful.

Looking back on her student teaching experience, Fortier did not forget to  recognize one of the most hard working individuals involved in her student teaching journey, which was herself.

“Because of the hard work I put in while student teaching and my willingness to go above and beyond, I developed a great relationship with my cooperating teacher and she served as an extremely valuable reference for me. Student teaching is such an important time to show your skills and your professionalism. It does get noticed and makes a huge difference down the road when it is time to start your career,” Fortier said.

Like Fortier, senior Kyle Jermyn is also interested in elementary education. Jermyn said that she always knew she wanted to major in elementary education as soon as she began applying to schools after graduating high school. “Ever since I was a little girl, I would play pretend teacher by myself imagining a class in front of me or making my little sister play along,” Jermyn said. “Keene State affirmed my decision when I looked at how well known and popular their education program was. I chose the major freshman year and have stuff with it as I will soon graduate with my degree in Education and my Liberal Arts major in Sociology.”

Senior Taylor Murphy added that she had also known she wanted to be a teacher for most of her life, but going into college she questioned it and tried out journalism for one semester. By the second semester of her first  year, Murphy said she realized that she definitely wanted to teach and began taking education courses.

“During my freshman year I began doing Math Beyond the Dots once a week at Franklin Elementary School, and I’ve had opportunities to be in a classroom every semester since. Being immersed in so many different classrooms has given me such an advantage and really prepared me for a future career,” Murphy said.

Jermyn said that she knew she wanted to enter specifically to the education program at KSC because she had heard great things about it, such that it was known as a teaching school in addition to following her passion in knowing that teaching was what she wanted to do. Jermyn said that after her first year of being in the program, she formed a great rapport with education faculty and peers and knew that this was where she was supposed to be.

Jermyn said that she liked that KSC’s education program required students to have a liberal arts major because it allowed her to explore the field of Sociology, which Jermyn said helped her along her education journey because many topics and ideas in sociology coincided with the things being discussed in her education classes.

“Another great thing about the program is the faculty and staff that work within the education program. Right off the bat freshman year, I made incredible bonds with a couple professors that have been helping me all of the four years. The program is a very tight knit major where you begin to see the same familiar faces around campus or in your education classes which was always comforting,” Jermyn said.

Like Fortier, Jermyn said the only thing she wished was different about the program was that student teaching had come earlier before the last semester of senior year because she said she feels as though it is that beneficial and should be extended for a longer period of time. 

Once Jermyn did start the student teaching portion of the program, she said her initial thoughts were “Holy crap, I am terrified.” Jermyn said that she would often question herself and wonder if she was really ready and was so nervous about what to expect and the “unknown.”

“It was intimidating for me to think about jumping from having some experience in the classroom from courses like Methods, but than to fully be in an elementary school was somewhat scary. As I began to start it, I realized how awesome it was and how much fun I was having,” Jermyn said.

She continued, “I noticed the big jump of responsibility of student teaching where I was expected to be in a classroom five days a week, six hours a day. I knew all of my third graders close to the first week and picked up on every student and their needs rather quickly. Student teaching most definitely confirmed that teaching is what I wanted to do in the long run.”

Jermyn said that she liked the independent feel of student teaching as compared to other courses in the education program. Jermyn said that student teaching is all in the hands of you and that she liked that they [those involved in student teaching] only met as a cohort once a month and had assignments here and there, really allowing them to focus on their placements.

“Methods courses required a lot of assignments, which I felt took us away from focusing on our students. Student teaching is more done on your own terms and allows you to feel the role of a teacher. During your solo week in student teaching, you are required to teach for a week without your cooperating teacher in the room. This was by far the greatest experience and even though I was so hesitant knowing this requirement, it ended up being one of my favorite weeks I ever taught,” Jermyn said.

Jermyn said she grew a great amount during her time student teaching. Jermyn said she was able to perform and do more in the classroom setting as well as attend things such as staff meetings and programs at the elementary school as if she were the teacher. “The feedback I received from my cooperating teacher was always helpful and I never hesitated to ask her questions or any staff if I needed to,” Jermyn said. “Simple things such as learning how to use the photocopy machine became second nature, which will be a tool I will need to use for the future.”

Murphy added, “Although we get to teach in the classroom before student teaching, student teaching is definitely way more intense and feels a lot more like how it will feel to have a classroom of my own, so it is an experience I have been excited for. Now that I am student teaching, I have gotten a real feel, not only for teaching but for being a part of a professional community and it’s been a really great experience.”

Jermyn said that there was no point during student teacher where she felt that she did not want to continue student teaching. Although there were times where Jermyn said she felt overwhelmed and out of her comfort zone, at the end of the day Jermyn said she has a love for working with children and that passion has always remained the same.

Like Jermyn, Taylor Murphy said that there are definitely moments when she has gotten glimpses of how difficult teaching can be, but at the end of the day she said she has never doubted her choice to teach.

“My goal right now would be to find a teaching job somewhere near my hometown and then start a masters program a couple of years down the line. I could definitely see a possibility of becoming a reading specialist in the future as well, but right now I am ready to be a classroom teacher,” Murphy said.

Murphy added that outside of helping her become a better teacher, her student teaching experience has taught her a whole lot about responsibility and professionalism, which Murphy said has made her feel beyond prepared to apply for jobs this spring and hopefully a career in the fall.

With graduation approaching, Jermyn said that she hopes to have her own classroom someday, but to also attain her master’s degree in Special Education at some point as well. Jermyn said that she is still not sure of the area for where she wants to teach, but that she assumes she will start off close to home in Massachusetts.

Looking back at her experience in the education program and student teaching in the area, Jermyn said that student teaching has helped get her to where she is today because she is more confident in her teaching ability and feels that she can perform in a classroom in more ways than she used to. “When I first started my experience in the classroom, my biggest fear was a read aloud where I had to read to the entire class,” Jermyn said. “Now that is the last of my fears and I am lucky to fit that into my planning schedule. Thank you Keene State for giving me the opportunities I have been fortunate to have in the education program!”

She continued, “I read a quote somewhere that reiterates why teachers teach and why I want to. In the quote, someone not in the teaching profession asks, ‘What do you make?’ (in terms of salary). The response: ‘A difference, what do you make?’”

Brogan can be contacted at

Share and Enjoy !


Leave a Reply