“Students in educational studies and teacher licensure think intentionally about their career pathways throughout their Hiram journey,” said Jen McCreight, Ph.D., interim assistant dean of professional and faculty development, professor of education, and head of teacher education. For Kelsey Tarase ’12, Breanna Louis ’20, and Charlie Wirfel ’20, their Hiram education helped expose them to a wide variety of educational institutions and students to help prepare them for an ever-changing group of clientele.
“Hiram helped all of us solidify our career choices as we all feel that they did an amazing job giving us early exposure with field experience working with children,” said Tarase, who has served as the director of education at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland (CMC) for six years and graduated with a degree in integrated middle childhood education with a concentration in science and social studies. Louis, an early childhood education major, and Wirfel, an educational studies and studio art major, are both educators for CMC and work on summer camps, lesson plans, and outreach programming in their roles. Although all three received different educational concentrations, the variety of experiences each student received at Hiram uniquely prepared them for diverse education-related careers.
All three alumni feel that Hiram provided them with various opportunities such as colloquiums and other required classes that allowed them to stretch their creative brains. “This really parallels with the work we now do where each lesson we teach may be different,” said Tarase.
The mission of the education program at Hiram College is to foster intellectual excellence and social responsibility. Students are provided a platform on which to engage and study the issues and implications of education in the myriad environments where it exists in order to face the urgent challenges of the times. In addition to the educational studies major, Hiram’s teacher licensure program focuses on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, and through these aspects, majors prepare to teach a diverse, dynamic student body.
“We thread conversations about future plans across all classes and adjust course content to ensure it is relevant for our students and where they see themselves as educators,” said Dr. McCreight.
The three alumni continue to use the same lesson plan formats they exercised in their methods and pedagogy classes.
“One of the lessons that is critical for all educators, to learn is that of flexibility. Our agenda as educators is often not the same as the learners we are supporting, and being open to the possibility that we may have to change plans or the focus of a lesson in order to meet someone where they are is critical,” said Dr. McCreight.
Louis exercises this muscle in her role and said, “I enjoy the fast-paced environment of museum work and how it allows me to use a variety of skills while else helping people from all backgrounds.”
The educational studies and education teacher licensure degrees at Hiram are dedicated to cultivating adaptable and empathetic education leaders as they enter their careers in a dynamic field.
“The education field, whether we are talking about schools, museums, environmental spaces, or after-school programs, must be agile and able to shift to meet the needs of all learners,” said Dr. McCreight. “Even as significant change occurs, though, it is the relationship between an educator and their students that is at the core of success in teaching and learning. At Hiram, faculty and staff work hard to model this necessity of relationship by staying close to our students as they engage in internships and other hands-on experiences in the education field, and problem-solving with them when they find themselves in challenging situations. As the environment shifts, we strive to shift with it – and to demonstrate this versatility to the emerging educators with whom we have the great honor to work!”
Tarase, Louis, and Wirfel all enjoy working with each other and sharing an alma mater. “We all appreciate and joke around using phrasing that we clearly all learned at our time in Hiram; it’s a common phrase that we ask, ‘What would Roxanne or Matt Sorrick say?’ It’s also nice to work with others from Hiram because it was an almost instantaneous way for us to grow as a team,” said Tarase.