SOE Sophomores Get Head Start in Classroom


Maryville University sophomore Katherine McLaughlin thought her blueprint for success would be a career in architecture. But now, she has designs on a career in teaching. McLaughlin is pursuing a degree in elementary education through Maryville’s School of Education. This year, she is fulfilling her beginning practicum in a third-grade classroom at Barretts Elementary School in the Parkway School District.

In the spring of 2006, McLaughlin received a bachelor’s degree in architectural landscape from Purdue University. After graduating, however, she experimented with different jobs in the field and quickly realized that architecture wasn’t right for her. McLaughlin said it took some serious thinking before she decided to return to school and pursue teaching.

“My mother is a teacher and I never thought I would be one, just because I wanted to make my own way,” said McLaughlin. Reflecting back on a time in high school when she mentored a kindergarten class and enjoyed it, McLaughlin began to ponder the idea of teaching. Having just moved to St. Louis with her husband, she began to research universities in the area with education programs. Discovering that Maryville has a highly esteemed program and is a small school, McLaughlin made her decision. “I think the Maryville program is wonderful,” she said. “It involves so much in-class school work, and I know it is going to be a great learning experience.”

After a carefully structured exploratory experience in a variety of schools as a freshman, Maryville sophomore education majors are in schools two to three days per week every semester, with these experiences increasing in intensity from sophomore year until student teaching, according to Sam Hausfather, Ph.D., dean of the University’s School of Education (right). “Maryville is the only university in the St. Louis area that has the intensity of beginning field experiences we have, with sophomores spending three days per week in the schools, being supervised by faculty and earning academic credit,” Hausfather said. “Only Maryville University personally introduces each student to the school on the first day of beginning practicum.”

Freshman education majors observe in different schools but sophomores have an even more hands-on approach. They are placed in a school for an entire year observing, interviewing, doing small group lessons and tutoring. One of the first experiences for sophomores is the practicum welcome, where a Maryville faculty member accompanies the students as they first meet with the principal and teacher in their school. This is an opportunity for them to see the classroom where they will work during the semester.

“I’m really excited to be in the classroom and be able to experience what it is like from a teacher’s perspective,” said Amanda Newbanks, who is shadowing a third-grade teacher at Claymont Elementary School. “I am hoping to gain valuable information about classroom management and the structure of the classroom.”

“Students interact with children, teachers and principals,” said Hausfather, “It is an opportunity for them to see if teaching is for them. They can see what it is like as a teacher but also transition from a student to a teacher and move to the other side of the desk.” There are currently 43 students enrolled in the sophomore block, with three of these being post-baccalaureate students, including McLaughlin.

Laura Johnson, a sophomore participating in this year’s program, is excited about her practicum in an all-girls classroom at Carman Trails Elementary School. “My biggest goal for this experience,” said Johnson “is to learn different teaching methods to reach each child and fulfill her needs.”

Schools participating in Maryville’s beginning education practicum are: Barretts Elementary, Carman Trails, Claymont, Ellisville, Rose Acres, Valley Park, Wilkinson Early Childhood, Ritenour Middle, Maplewood-Richmond Heights Middle, Roosevelt, Kennard, Parkway South High, Spoede Elementary, Parkway West High and Parkway North High.

Maryville University is a private institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,422 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers. Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.