Teaching graduate Smith goes to head of the class
As Heather Smith's high school career came to a close, this aspiring science teacher visited three colleges which had reputable programs in Earth Science Adolescence Education — but Fredonia stood out.
"I can still remember my Fredonia tour," she recalls. "I was impressed with how beautiful the campus was, and I could see how friendly the students and faculty were."
A native of Batavia, N.Y., this 2012 Fredonia graduate is now teaching science just outside of Rochester at East Irondequoit Middle School — a job she landed less than a month after earning her degree.
One of Fredonia's greatest influences on her, Heather says, was giving her an environment in which she routinely made important decisions throughout her four years. For example, she got involved in some of the many clubs and organizations on campus tailored to different majors, interests, and activities. She joined the Teacher Opportunity Corps along with a sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, which "taught me how to become a better person," she says. She also worked in the campus learning center as a Geosciences tutor, which further prepared her to become a teacher. All of this helped her learn about herself and others, and to prepare for her future.
In addition, consistent with the vibe she picked up on that first tour, Smith found that the faculty and staff within the Geology and Education departments were very helpful and insightful.
"In the Geology department, each professor had his or her own style of teaching and engaging students," she says. "They made my education fun, exciting and realistic to my career path."
However it was a professor in the College of Education, Dr. Kathleen Lesniak, who had the biggest impact on her.
"Dr. Lesniak was my first and last education professor. I've learned a lot from her," Smith says appreciatively. "Taking her class freshman year and doing the field placement solidified my interest in education. She was always there for me to talk to, and very helpful in my job search. Even after graduating, she still stays in contact with me, which shows how interested and dedicated she is to her students."
All education students at Fredonia have the opportunity to gain valuable real-world knowledge through field experiences and student teaching, which were helpful resources to Heather in landing her first teaching job.
"I was able to experience my career and see if I liked it before I went all the way through college," she explains. "After graduating, I felt confident in my abilities to teach Earth Science due to these incredible professors and my overall experience at Fredonia. The best part of it all is, after student teaching, I had material to use in my career now!"
Heather Smith took advantage of the opportunities available on and off campus in order to attain her dream job of teaching science– because she is a Fredonian. Would you like to become one? Just visit our admissions section to learn more — and connect with a counselor who can help you reach the head of the class too!