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Master of Education in Teaching

Katie Choate ’10 MEdT

Preschool Teacher, Children’s Village at Hayes, Davenport, Iowa

"I went into the program to learn new teaching strategies. It's also reminded me of techniques I learned as an undergrad that I can now fine tune in a real world setting."

How to succeed

"I'd encourage any teacher to go for the MEdT. Just because you're working full-time doesn't mean you have to stop learning. With just one class a week, you can focus on both your job and your degree, and enhance both in the process."

With a degree in elementary education from the University of Iowa and eight years of teaching preschool already under her belt, Katie enrolled in the St. Ambrose Master of Education in Teaching program to grow as an educator and a role model to her students. "It's never too early to make an impression on young minds," she says. "I tell them I'm in school, too. And they relate to me because of that."

Since enrolling at Ambrose, Katie finds herself taking a more active role with her school and community as a member of her preschool's assessment committee and of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

In her own words

What attracted you to teaching?

I've always loved working with young children, and considered becoming a teacher my sophomore year, after my mother suggested it. I realized that teaching preschool was a perfect niche. Every day with my students is a treat. You never know what will come out of their mouths.

Preschool is not daycare. There is playing and fun projects, but we have a curriculum. There's direct instructional time when we learn the alphabet and reading comprehension, including playacting characters and settings from stories to make them come alive. I use games, songs and dances to teach rhyming, sounds and other phonological awareness.

Why St. Ambrose?

St. Ambrose has a reputation for excellence. My friends who went here for their undergrad degrees loved it for its high-quality education and close-knit atmosphere. One of the other main attractions for me was the convenience; my schedule was already planned out and took into account my full-time teaching at Hayes.

What's the best aspect of the program?

I love learning in a cohort-starting and finishing the program with the same group of people. We've become a family. We even advise each other on teaching situations outside of our class. For example, we suggested to one classmate a place for students to get screened for dyslexia. We come from a range of teaching backgrounds, from preschool to high school, so we have a lot of advice to offer each other.

What's one of the most valuable lessons you've learned?

Dr. Manges used role-playing to demonstrate how to work with students who have made poor choices, like getting into fights. We learned different techniques to make students understand how poor decisions affect them academically and personally and to take responsibility. First, students have to admit what they did. Then, we ask them to think of ways they should have handled it differently. A fight in high school might lead to expulsion, which then decreases their chance of getting into college. Dr. Magnus taught us not to accept "I'll try not to do that" as an answer.

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