USC Rossier Class of 2014 Graduate Spotlight


  
With over 400 students graduating from our online programs this year, we have hundreds of amazing teachers ready to lead in their classrooms, schools, universities and organizations around the world. For the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting 2014 graduates who have gone above and beyond in their master’s program and are positively effecting change in education.

Here’s our first round of 2014 USC Rossier graduates. We asked them about their time at USC, and here’s what they had to say!


 

Monique Sullivan | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in English

Monique instantly connected with the students during her field experience, even though they had been a bit rambunctious for previous teachers. Monique and her husband spent six months teaching at the largest internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Haiti in 2011.

Why did you choose USC Rossier?

My husband and I have always been a little nomadic. When I started to look for a MAT program, I wanted something that would allow me to travel but would not dilute the experience of a master’s program. When I looked at USC Rossier, I absolutely fell in love with not only their teaching pedagogy but also their prestigious professors and wonderful support. I decided that USC was the place for me and did not even apply elsewhere.

What do you love most about teaching?

My favorite part of teaching is being able to challenge the students to live outside of their comfort zones. I teach high school English Language Arts, and the fact that I get to discuss ethics through the lens of literary fiction/non-fiction characters is a blessing. Every time I see students take a vested interest in something they never knew existed before, I feel a sense of fulfillment. Just the other day a student wrote a beautiful essay on drones and the implications of their use for the future. I sat there grading his paper late one night and was just astonished at how much he had grown as a writer. I felt proud that I was able to shepherd him and his writing in the right direction.

What is your most memorable moment in the program?

One of my most memorable moments in the program has been getting to know all the wonderful people. I never wanted to miss out on meeting people by completing my master’s degree online, and I never had to. The people I have met are not only extraordinary individuals, but they are also driven and inspirational educators. I am grateful to have them as resources in the future.

What is next for you? What do you plan to do after graduation?

I have been offered a job at my current student teaching placement. I am looking forward to working with a wonderful group of students in the Bay Area. In the far off future, I would like to open a girls’ school in Haiti — heading back to the place that started my passion for teaching.



 

Jae Schock | Murcia, Spain

Master of Arts in Teaching – TESOL

Jae started the program shortly after moving to Spain, where she works for her company ESL kids, is active in her community and trains for triathlons in her free time.

Why did you choose USC Rossier?

When I began researching Master of Arts in Teaching online programs, I had two objectives: The first was to find an excellent TESOL degree that would allow me to study from abroad, and the second was for the degree to come from a reputable university that would be able to open international doors for me. When USC Rossier appeared on my screen, I knew I had to make the call. My Admissions Counselor was incredibly friendly and helpful, and the USC Rossier School of Education matched all of my pre-requisites. By the time I hung up the phone, I knew my search was over.

What do you love most about teaching?

I have enjoyed teaching for a number of years now, but without having formal instruction in education or TESOL, I was always unsure if I was going about it correctly. Now, with my newly earned assuredness in methods and pedagogy, I continue to enjoy my time spent with the students — especially when I can help them fill in the gaps of knowledge preventing them from reaching their academic potential. Gee, that sounded rather serious. The truth is, I love making learning a fun experience for everyone!

What is your most memorable moment in the program?

There are simply too many to list! I think the part of the program that has had the greatest impact on me is the collaboration with like-minded peers. I now have a network of colleagues spanning the globe. The intensity required to successfully complete the program has bonded us beyond what I thought possible with online classrooms. In fact, in one case, two of my closest friends and I have morphed into one identity — long live Jaenetina!

What is next for you? What do you plan to do after graduation?

I will continue to oversee and support my franchisees working for my company, ESL Kids, just outside Munich, Germany. Additionally, I plan to accept a teaching job at the British school here in Spain where I have conducted my fieldwork over the past 18 months.



 

Edward Kempton | San Diego, California

Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in English

Edward is an active-duty in the United States military and served in Afghanistan while in the USC Rossier program.

Why did you choose USC Rossier?

When I first began looking for a program to earn a master’s focusing on curriculum and instruction, I was still working full time for naval special warfare. My job required a lot of my attention and kept me from spending any consistent amount of time in one spot. This necessitated that I find a distance-learning program. As I looked through the options, USC was in the early stages of the MAT program. It was the only program focusing on curriculum and instruction that was offered online by a respected school. As I researched it more, I really liked the novel approach that they take to distance learning. I have found that the live classrooms are often even more interactive than traditional live classrooms. Although I believe that there is a degree of self-motivation and regulation required to excel in distance learning, the support provided by this program has been awesome. I feel that the overall quality of instruction was exactly what I would expect from a top-level traditional program, too.

What do you love most about teaching?

Ever since I was young, I have had a passion for helping those around me learn things. To me, it is a twofold experience. The first part that I love is the challenge of learning a material well enough to be able to help others learn it. There is a derisive idea that, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” I have found this to be untrue. Being able to master a skill is only half of the battle. You then have to be able to understand all of its layers as an extension of the way that people think. In doing so, you can try to align the process of describing an idea to the intricacies of individual learning. This area of finesse is where teaching really lies. Many teachers who are experts in their areas have never mastered the other half of the craft of teaching. I have always found it strange that teaching is one of the few occupations that does not require a degree in the actual profession. You can’t be a doctor without a medical degree; however, you can definitely become a teacher without a teaching degree.

The second part grows as an extension of the first. I am very passionate about learning new things. I consider this to be one of the sublime pleasures of life. Each time that I am able to help another person learn, to see the “light” come on, it fills me with joy. Beyond the immediate instance of helping someone to learn something lies a deeper task. That task is to instill a love for lifelong learning. Dr. Kaplan refers to it as developing the scholarly disposition. I believe that all people, regardless of what they are passionate about, need the passion and perseverance to continually learn and broaden their horizons. This does not just include book learning. It includes learning with our hands, perfecting our trades and reflecting on the experiences of our lives to learn from them. It is only in this way that people can truly move forward with each day.

What is your most memorable moment in the program or as a teacher?

I can say that the most memorable class as a student would be EDUC 530 with Dr. Paige McCord. As a teacher, my first real classroom teaching experience is the most memorable. My senior year in high school, I was the teacher’s assistant for the AP calculus class. Halfway through the school year, the teacher transferred out. Since I grew up in a very rural community, they did not have another qualified teacher readily available. Although there was a teacher in the classroom, I took over the actual lesson instruction for the remainder of the year since he was not qualified to teach calculus. I didn’t want the hard work of all of my classmates (since they were all seniors, too, and I knew them well) to be in vain. It was terrifying and, at the same time, extremely gratifying. At the end of the school year, the class presented me with an award of appreciation at one of the school ceremonies. As far as teaching moments go, I can think of few things that would mean more to me than that recognition and thanks from my peers.

What is next for you?

I came to this program with a passion for teaching and an understanding of it from the standpoint of outside professions. I realized that teaching is something that goes on in every aspect of life. If you ever plan on mastering any skill or becoming a parent, you will be put into the position to have to pass that knowledge on to others in order to bring the new generations up to your level, and hopefully to help them surpass the current limits. I do not intend to switch to being a classroom teacher when I finish. I pursued this program in order to ensure that I will always be able to put forth my best effort when helping others to learn, regardless of my profession. I will continue to volunteer my time as a tutor. There is a literacy-coaching program for youth that I intend to become involved with as well once my schedule opens up a little. I will also dedicate time to helping gifted students, as an underrepresented learning minority. As for my own progress, I will be taking the MCATs next spring with the intent of getting into an MD/PhD program. This is something that I have wanted to do since I was in high school. I am definitely keeping my options open for a future in teaching my trades to new generations, but I feel the driving need to master some new trades en route.



 

Sarah Tomlinson | Mountain View, California

Master of Arts in Teaching – TESOL

Even though Sarah completed another TESOL certification program, she found the MAT – TESOL to be the most valuable certificate. She was previously an English language instructor, a legislative assistant for the California State Assembly and a staff assistant at the Los Angeles County Office of Education–Governmental Relations.

Why did you choose USC Rossier?

When I returned from teaching English in Istanbul at the beginning of 2013, I was kind of lost as to what to do next. After speaking with my mentors and friends, I decided to look into a MAT in TESOL program and saw that USC Rossier was a very highly respected school. Although I was a little apprehensive of an online program at first, I realized that USC Rossier offered me a lot of flexibility while also offering strong academics and a fieldwork component. I’ve come to realize that it was one of the best academic decisions I have made.

What do you love most about teaching?

Teaching English as a second language has been the most rewarding career of my life. It allows me to learn about different languages, cultures and people, while also supporting and helping people learn the American culture and the English language. In addition, I love the relationships and friendships I have built, not only with my students, but also through my teacher preparation at USC Rossier.

What is your most memorable moment as a teacher?

I would have to say my most memorable moment of teaching has to be the going away party one of my groups of students threw me during my last month teaching in Istanbul. My students took me to a fish restaurant that overlooked the Bosphorus, where we ate, drank and celebrated our time together. They were so wonderful and appreciative that they made me realize how fortunate I was to have the opportunity to teach English abroad, especially in Turkey. I still speak to many of my old students and look forward to the opportunity of returning to teach English at a Turkish university.

What is next for you? What do you plan to do after graduation?

I was recently informed that I received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Mongolia and that I will be offered a teaching position at a university somewhere in the country. In addition, I will have the opportunity to work with the U.S. Embassy to help with English language programs in the city I am placed in, which will further encourage cultural exchange between America and Mongolia. It’s an amazing opportunity, which I am truly lucky to have received.



 

Kathryn Thomas | Paradise, California

Master of Education in Teacher Leadership with a concentration in Differing Abilities, Special Education & Gifted Certificate

Kathryn has been teaching for over 28 years and is looking forward to leading in her school district.

Why did you choose USC Rossier?

I chose Rossier for the convenience of taking classes at home and because I wanted to be challenged with a rigorous and purposeful curriculum. As a full-time teacher, I’d rather spend what would have been my commuting time working on my classwork. Time is precious.

What do you love most about teaching?

Every teaching day is different from the next. Whether it is a conversation with a student, a light bulb that finally goes on or helping a student cope with a difficult day, no day is the same. It is expecting the unexpected and making a difference (whether big or small) that keeps me going.

What is your most memorable moment in the program?

My most memorable moment was uploading my TSCI (Teacher, Student, and Content Interaction) paper for Austin’s 516 course just before deadline and feeling the relief and pride in what I put into that work.

What is next for you? What do you plan to do after graduation?

I’m looking forward to leaving the four walls of my classroom and working with new teachers in curriculum development — whether it be a position within a school district or after pursuing my doctorate. I do know that I am ready for something different.