Melissa Thurner, Class of 2011
Before Dominican: BA in Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Why Dominican? Having well informed and educated professors who place a big emphasis on student teaching in the second semester and prepare you for all aspects of entering the teaching profession makes the Dominican program stand out from the rest.
Currently: Teacher at Rincon Valley Unified School District in Santa Rosa, CA.
Highlight: “I highly recommend the program to anyone seriously considering a career in education.”
Great accelerated program
I came to Dominican for multiple reasons. First, I was eager to get my credential and begin working, so I was looking for a one-year program that would nevertheless provide me with a great education. Second, I was applying to programs from out of state, and Dominican’s tuition was cheaper than any other school’s out-of-state tuition. Third, and most important, I was excited by the prospect of spending most of my second semester working in classrooms and gaining practical experience.
My experience in the program was fantastic. Right from the beginning, I felt that I was part of a community and valued in my classes. Students were given ample opportunity to share ideas and thoughts, as well as to help each other. Dr. Crosby made us feel very welcome and supported, while professor Juliet Schiller was an inspiration to all of us.
Classes provide practical knowledge
The English Language Development class was absolutely essential for me. It has really helped me feel prepared in my classrooms today. I learned so much in that class, in particular different strategies to use with English Language Learner (ELL) students.
The curriculum classes were also extremely helpful: they gave me a powerful and unbeatable base of knowledge in all of the subjects I am now responsible for teaching. The reading class provided some great strategies for helping children to be successful readers. Outside of my classes, the credential analyst and the administrative coordinator supported me with any questions and needs I had. I really felt cared for from the beginning to the end of the program.
My field placement
My field placement was at Loma Verde Elementary in Novato. This was a fantastic experience. I thought it was a well set up first semester, where I rotated through the grades once a week and spent time in the same classes each week as well. All of the teachers I worked with were very welcoming and generous with any information I inquired about.
Principal Eileen Smith was great to work with and I learned an incredible amount from her. I also worked with Michelle Robertson in first grade and I feel like she has really helped to guide me into the educator I am and strive to be. Marilyn Wada in third grade was also wonderful and helped me to feel successful and supported. This was an extremely important process for me because I gained practical experience and learned to feel confident in the classroom. I knew it was the place for me after spending this time there. I feel that this school had a great mixed population to work with (both racially and socio-economically). That experience was very important to me because I really wanted to experience working with diverse cultures.
My student teaching experience
My student teaching placement at Loma Verde was invaluable. The first semester included weekly observations in specific classrooms, as well as the opportunity to rotate through different grades each week. I liked the balance of staying with two classrooms throughout the semester, as well as seeing each grade level and working with resource teachers. While working in classrooms, I was able to work one on one with students, help teachers with preparation and simply observe their tactics and strategies.
Second semester I began student teaching in the classrooms I had observed in the previous months. I thought this system was set up very well because I was already familiar with the teachers and their teaching styles, as well as the population of students that I would be working with. I took on a lot more responsibility during these months, and I really got to know what goes into teaching. It was so helpful to learn from excellent teachers and ingrain some of their practices into my own. I also attended weekly staff meetings and district staff development days. The field placement really helped me to feel confident in the classroom and solidified my desire to teach.
Informed and educated instructors
Having well informed and educated professors who place a big emphasis on student teaching in the second semester and prepare you for all aspects of entering the teaching profession makes the Dominican program stand out from the rest.
Employment post program completion
Dominican helped me reach my first goal of feeling like a confident and prepared teacher. This program has taught me so much and I feel ready to teach in a variety of situations. The education I received here also helped me to achieve my goal of getting a job!
I was hired about a month and a half after I graduated and I am thrilled about the position.