While still in high school, Leslie Clarke ’14 faced a difficult choice between two potential careers: medicine or education. After enrolling in Green Mountain College, however, she knew which profession she would pursue. She became an elementary education major with a concentration in art and a minor in environmental education.
“I chose education because I am passionate about helping all people especially children and learning,” she said.
Leslie first discovered GMC at a college fair in her high school dining hall in Greenwich, Conn.
“The Green Mountain College table had a brochure of someone walking barefoot in the trees, and I liked walking barefoot. It was something I always got in trouble for,” Leslie recalls. “I also wanted to go to a school that was smaller; where I felt comfortable. It was a good choice.”
As a student at GMC, Leslie has served as president of both the Anime Club and the Rotaract Club (a subset of Rotary international community-based service). She’s also served as co-chair of the DREAM mentoring club for Poultney children and is a member of the GMC choir.
In the future, she would like to participate in the prestigious program “Teach for America,” before getting a masters degree in place-based education. Her pet project, however, is creating a youth center for after-school activities.
“Youth centers, if they are done well, can be really beneficial for the community,” she explains.
Her focus on environmental education and the arts has led her to consider how to incorporate both disciplines into the elementary school curriculum. Leslie points out that while some charter and private schools have more chances for students to get outside as part of the curriculum, many public schools do not provide these opportunities. She would like make these experiences available to more students by becoming a public school teacher.
“Alternative schools can be great, but most kids don’t have the opportunity attend. So what happens to them?” she asks.
One of her other major interests is the impact of learning differences on the development of literacy skills in young children. Her favorite courses, Language and Literacy I and II, reminded her how difficult it had been to keep up in the classroom when she was younger with learning disabilities of her own.
“These courses sparked a passion in me about the development of skills in children,” she adds. “Literacy is essential if they are to become successful later in life.”
To this end, she plans on becoming a Wilson Instructor which will certify her to “intervene with struggling students” through a better understanding of English phonology and morphology.
She credits her education instructors with inspiring her to consider different methods of engaging students.
“They stressed the importance of getting kids outside to enhance their education,” Leslie concludes, “When I’m a teacher, I also want to create dynamic ways of dealing with diverse students needs.”
By Laura Huley '13