Class of 2015
Major: Childhood Education and Mathematics
Favorite weekend activity: Being outside
Career Plans: Teaching
"My first semester here, I was required to do 10 hours in the classroom. We were just starting, and it was, 'Let's go; let's jump in the classroom and go.' With the education program, we're putting in more time in the classroom, a lot more than the state requires. "
When Jennifer Beams decided she wanted to become an elementary school teacher, she looked no further than Johnson State. She was inspired by her third and fourth grade teacher, Kathleen Lee, a JSC alum.
"When I was a child, I moved to Georgia, VT. It was a real difficult time, and she helped me through that," Jennifer says. "She continues to help me, and because of her, I want to become a teacher. She knows me really well, and she helps me with everyday advice. She's the kind of teacher who's gone way above and beyond. That's the kind of teacher I want to be."
Jennifer has found that same passion for teaching at Johnson State. She distinctly remembers her visit to an admissions open house, when the Education Department chair enthusiastically described the Childhood Education program.
"You could just tell that he loved teachers and he loved teaching and he thought it was a really important job," she recalls. "I feel the same way. I'm huge on education; it's our future. You're making a difference in the world."
Jennifer especially appreciates the Childhood Education program's emphasis on providing students with multiple experiences in the classroom, starting their first semester.
"I thought it was really cool. My first semester here, I was required to do 10 hours in the classroom," she says. "We were just starting, and it was, 'Let's go; let's jump in the classroom and go.' With the new program, we're putting in more time in the classroom, a lot more than the state requires. The more experience you have working with kids, the more foundation you have. The more teachers you've seen in action, the more styles you have to work with as you construct your own philosophy and ideas and lesson plans. So it's really important to have that experience."
Connecting with teachers has always helped Jennifer learn better and the ability to closely observe, connect with and access professors is a major advantage of attending Johnson State, she says. Her strong relationships with professors have benefited her academically.
"I learn best when I have a connection with a professor," she says. "I can see them in class and then go have lunch with them. You learn to trust them and to care about what they're saying because you look up to them. I haven't met a professor at Johnson State who doesn't have their door open."
"I honestly could have gone to any school I wanted to go to. I was accepted to every school I applied to," she recalls. "But this is the learning community where I want to be. I knew that when I saw the circle. It was a real learning community, where residential life and academic buildings come together. When I saw that, I could see myself living here and working here."