On May 10, 2019, twenty USM undergraduate students completed their teacher educator program, and were recommended for initial teacher certification as elementary, middle school, and high school teachers. Among the students who graduated from this program three years ago, Casey White, an English major, moved on to a professional career as an elementary teacher at Cumberland Oxford Canal School, Westbrook, Maine.
Originally from Gorham, Casey spent most of her years in public education in Gorham schools. On being admitted into the internship program in her final undergraduate year at USM, Casey was placed at Canal School, and worked with Ms. Wendy Gaulrapp, a fourth grade teacher. As Ms. Gaulrapp’s mentee, Casey engaged in co-teaching and planning lessons for students in English as a Second Language and gifted/talented learner programs. Mentor teachers like Ms. Gaulrapp serve as exceptional models for students.
Linda Evans, Director of Field Experiences and Internships in the Office of Educator Preparation, remembers Casey well: “In August of 2016, while eating lunch at Gorham House of Pizza, I glanced across the aisle to see Casey White. She introduced me to her mother and proudly let me know that she had been hired as a 4th grade teacher in Westbrook.
Later that fall, I was observing a student at Canal. As I walked down the hallway, I happened to look into a classroom and there was Casey White. I felt so proud of this USM grad, as I remembered how she started her college years and ended up becoming a teacher!”
On a cold afternoon this winter, Casey met with Linda Evans and John Muthyala, Professor of English and faculty liaison with the Teacher Educator program. When they invited her to meet with them, Casey said, “I would love to share about my experience. I am incredibly thankful for the time that I had at USM.” They spent two hours at a neighborhood café called Quills in Westbrook.
Reflecting on her experience as an English major in the Undergraduate Teacher Education pathway, Casey noted that the English program helped her expand her intellectual horizons, and develop writing and critical thinking skills, which she finds immensely useful in her career as a teacher.
Part of the charm of Canal, to Casey, is the number of English Learners that she meets who speak Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Khmer, and Vietnamese; she is now earning an endorsement to teach English-as-a-Second Language.
“Casey offered good suggestions to enhance the English program to help students prepare for a teaching career; her experience affirms the importance of reading and writing as essential skills for students at all levels,” observed Professor Muthyala. He further added, “The contribution of the humanities to meeting Maine’s workforce needs cannot be denied: they prepare students not only for professional careers, but also for a life-long pursuit of learning as the end of education.”