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Nicole Ainsworth '09

To Teach, Or Not To Teach

“Anything but teach,” was senior Nicole Ainsworth’s old reply to what she would do with an English degree. The responsibility of shaping young minds was an intimidating prospect. Things changed when her advisor suggested education courses, and she took the course “Teacher as Decision Maker” with Prof. Teresa Coker (environmental education). Learning of inequalities in the American school system aroused her passion and her English degree quickly became English education.

“I’ve always been very passionate about education,” she says. “A lot of my friends dropped out of high school.” She pauses. “The way the system worked, they couldn’t handle it. Now I think I want to work with at-risk kids who are on the brink, with emotional or family issues, and convince them to continue to work at it. I had a rocky childhood and my teachers dragged me out of that. They were my supporters, and I want to support kids like that.”

Theatre was another refuge from personal struggles. “Acting was key to my survival in high school,” she says. “It helped me socially. Everybody was really supportive. It also helps me understand different perspectives.” She compares it to the student teaching she is completing in local high schools for her last semester at GMC. “On some level it's easier to be on stage than to be in front of a classroom. There would be lights and you have a certain part and it’s scripted. In the classroom, anything can happen at anytime. There is no day that I go in where I actually expect to follow my lesson plan step by step,” she says smiling.

Nicole is excited to graduate and get involved. She is undecided whether to teach immediately, or to pursue advanced study in neurodevelopmental teaching techniques. This field focuses on the biological foundations of learning patterns, structuring education to re-shape the way a student processes information. The potential of this work thrills her. “Most people teach how they were taught,” she says. “I think it’s time we looked at other options.”

By Ryan Dixon '11

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