Elise Schupp, like many college students, came to Auburn University thinking she would major in education. Unlike most students, she stuck by her decision and never switched majors.
“I came to Auburn knowing I wanted to be a teacher,” Schupp said.
For the first semester, Schupp took classes in other departments to see if she had interests elsewhere. Teaching was still her first choice. This put her on the fast track to graduate.
Schupp is a senior in the college of education. She plans on returning to her hometown in Franklin, Tenn., upon graduation. She would like to teach third or fourth grade in Williamson County, although teaching second graders or fifth graders would also be acceptable for her.
Fourth grade was Schupp’s favorite class in elementary school. Schupp admired the class structure, encouragement and loving attitude that her teacher Mrs. Gilbert displayed. It was these attributes that made Schupp feel in control of her schoolwork and learn responsibility.
“I’m looking forward to having a class where I get to be with students every single day,” Schupp said. “Being able to track their progress in learning and help them in areas where they struggle is something I feel called to do.”
Student teaching is one aspect of Schupp’s many classes. She is assigned to an elementary school where she observes the teacher and classroom of students. After several weeks of observing, Schupp plans lessons and gets to teach. While she is teaching, the teacher and her professor observe her.
Teaching styles and the time allowed for each activity vary based on the students’ comprehension or difficulty with a subject.
“Teachers need to be able and willing to adapt,” Schupp said. “You learn the most about how far ahead or behind students are from the lessons that do not go the way you intended.”
After Schupp was admitted to the professional program, she became a part of an education group called a cohort. The group consists of 25 girls who take the same education classes together for the last two years of undergrad.
“Education is a people-oriented profession. Cohort groups build a strong inclusive classroom community,” Schupp said.
The women in the cohort group spend a lot of time together. As a result, community is created and friendships are developed. This models elementary teaching because their classroom will be a community in which sharing takes place.
When Schupp becomes a teacher, she wants to incorporate art in her classroom. Schupp would like to teach about famous artists and their artwork.
“I would like to integrate art as an outlet for students to express themselves,” Schupp said.
Pursuing a master’s of education at Auburn University is Schupp’s goal after she graduates in the spring of 2010. She is currently preparing for the graduate record examination which she takes this Friday. Once in graduate school, Schupp may focus her studies in other areas.
“Right now I want to stick with elementary education, but there’s definitely room for me to expand my horizons with fields like reading education and administration of elementary and secondary education,” Schupp said.
Information and guidance about the college of education’s prerequisites, class openings and the availability of wish lists are often unclear. Despite this setback, Schupp has liked her classes.
“I’ve had a lot of enjoyable classes at Auburn, but developmental psychology was my favorite,” Schupp said. “I liked learning how elementary children develop, learn and grow.”
Schupp has found that the most difficult part of her major has been dealing with the stigma that elementary education is an easy major.
“Elementary education requires a lot of hard work. What you get out of the major depends on how professional you want to make it,” Schupp said.
Schupp wants to teach her future students that they are responsible for themselves, their actions and their schoolwork.
“I want them to learn that their actions have positive and negative consequences, and I want to teach students how to be good citizens,” Schupp said. “Most importantly, I want them to become lifelong learners.”