Debbie Imhoff, Class of 2010
Before Dominican: BA in Education, Tusculum College
Why Dominican? Dominican students have received rigorous and thorough training in the education program and are well-prepared for future employment.
Currently: 3rd/4th grade combination classroom teacher at Evergreen Elementary School in Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District.
Highlight: “Dominican’s program delivered its product exactly as promised. I feel extremely fortunate to have had a quality education and experience with this University.”
Why I chose Dominican
At the time I applied, Dominican offered an 18-month, dual-credential teaching program in which one took 2-3 intensive, eight-week classes in a cohort. The class sizes were small so that we had plenty of opportunities to engage, to ask questions, and to experience more of the teaching and training. Additionally, each of the classes built and reinforced foundations we would need and use in subsequent classes. There was a logical sequencing of classes in the program that ensured successful outcomes at every level.
Dominican has an excellent reputation with prospective employers in my county (Sonoma County). Several of the administrators I have spoken with over the years all admit that they would hire a Dominican graduate over other prospective candidates because they know Dominican students have received rigorous and thorough training in the education program and are well-prepared for future employment. The initial intake interviews and the faculty and staff were very friendly, informative, and welcoming to me while I was considering Dominican. They took the time to answer all my questions, e-mails, and phone calls in a personal and professional manner showing that they were genuinely interested and supportive.
Very rigorous program
I can describe the dual credential program in two words: very rigorous. Our instructors were absolutely incredible and they imparted a tremendous amount of information and experience to us. And that meant pushing us to excel and learn.
The experience I most remember from the program took place at the beginning of the program during a Curriculum and Instruction class. In addition to copious amounts of reading from several books, written assignments, and side projects and papers, our class was given a very challenging, exhaustive and elaborate project to complete within three weeks. The situation involved simultaneously learning about and applying complicated concepts to a lesson plan while creating a detailed, 3-week math unit complete with pretests, posttests, and a variety of other assessments. None of us had ever seen a lesson plan before, and the Dominican Lesson Plan Format, when completed, was often whopping 15 pages long.
The task of completing 15 of these lesson plans in a coherent manner seemed impossible given the time allocation and our inexperience. But our instructor, Dorothy Ayres, was determined and had the fortitude to keep us focused and on task.
This particular assignment pushed each of us to a higher level of understanding and achievement. I know most of us worked around the clock. It felt like boot camp on steroids. Personally, I was amazed that I survived it; I’ve never pushed myself as hard as I did for that class. I drank more coffee and ate more chocolate during that time than at any other time of my life.
Yet the outcome was well worth the effort. At the end of the class, each of us knew we could handle whatever the future held in terms of expectations and hard work. Dorothy knew she had to pull us through the process, and she did. Needless to say, to this day, Dorothy remains one of my favorite people.
My student teaching experiences
I did my Special Education student teaching at Marguerite Hahn Elementary School in Rohnert Park. My directing teacher was Debbie Havstad. She is also a supervisor for Dominican in San Rafael. Working with Debbie was a fabulous experience for me.
She had me involved in every aspect of her program, and she was an incredible mentor. I wish I could have worked for an entire year in her program because she was so knowledgeable, forthcoming, and enthusiastic in training and advising me. The most important part of that experience was the constant engagement and involvement with the other teachers and administrative staff. Debbie demonstrated the importance of regular communication with all the staff on a daily basis, working with students in their mainstream setting as well as in pullout groups, and communicated her progress and goals to each of the teachers in a consistently friendly and informative manner. Her collaboration with others on a daily basis is instrumental in the success of the early intervention programs she implemented at Hahn.
Benefits of a Dominican Education
As a Dominican student, you are given a variety of credential programs. You’ll receive excellent training by experienced teachers in the field and you’ll find yourself in small classes learning alongside people who will have become your friends.
The difference between Dominican and other university programs is that Dominican will treat you better than any other university I am familiar with. Dominican will view you like a valued member of the program. You’ll never fall into anonymity, be unable to take some classes because they’re unavailable, or feel like just a cod in the wheel.