My name is Grace Schillinger and I am a senior, double major with elementary education and special education. I have loved my time at Saint Joe’s and I cannot wait to use everything that I have learned to be the best teacher I can be!

 When I toured Saint Joe’s for the first time, I knew I had found my home away from home. This feeling of comfort followed me through the years all the way to my final year on Hawk Hill. It has inspired me to create a home away from home for children too; a classroom to grow and learn in. I decided to double major in elementary education and special education because I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I had no idea the countless opportunities that Saint Joe’s would provide through the years to cultivate in me a passion for education and the right that every child has to feel safe in his/her own learning environment. 

I was placed in a classroom the first semester of my freshman year which gave me the initial exposure to a teacher’s perspective, instead of the familiar student’s perspective which I had experienced for my whole life. Each semester, I was placed in a different classroom, at a different school, and with a different teacher. By the end of my four years at SJU, I have experienced public schools, charter schools, private schools, and urban and suburban schools with many different cooperating teachers. I have learned so much from these field experiences that are impossible to learn from a textbook. As I grew more comfortable in the classroom, I progressed from observing the teacher and students, to interacting with the students, to teaching the students. Each step prepared me to one day have my own classroom. 

Field experience has provided wonderful opportunities for me, but my professors have as well. Each field experience component is linked to a course taken at Saint Joe’s. These courses provide explicit instruction on lesson planning, assessment, intervention and much more that prepares us for our own classroom. The instruction is connected to what we are seeing in our field experiences and we are encouraged to reflect on everything that we see and how it relates back to what we are learning. In our courses, we discuss social justice issues and how we can help to solve some of these issues in our own classrooms. We are taught that our small solution could have a huge impact on someone’s life. I have been inspired again and again by my professors to be the very best teacher I can be. 

As I look towards graduation in May, I am overwhelmed by the unknown, but I know that Saint Joe’s has prepared me well to welcome little hearts and minds into my own classroom. I know that I am ready to create an environment where students love to learn and are encouraged to make mistakes and grow and build lifelong friendships. I cannot wait to teach and I owe it to Saint Joe’s for starting the fire and creating in me a passion for showing my students the joy of loving to learn. 

— Grace Schillinger, ’20