Jan 03, 2021

Local Teen Shares Her Goals in Pursuing an Education Degree

By Lori Draz and Corinne Valentino

Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact The Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry, let’s just get to sharing.

This month’s author is 19-year-old Corinne Valentino, of Lincroft. Corinne graduated from Middletown High School South in June 2019. She is now attending Brookdale Community College and will be transferring to a four-year school in May 2021, where she will major in education. Corinne knew what she wanted to do from the time she was young. She wanted to be a teacher. But wanting things doesn’t make them happen. That takes application, study and a willingness to do what you need to do to get where you want to be. In this month, when so many people are setting goals and envisioning the improved lives they want, Corinne shows us that no matter what your dream is, you’ve got to chart a course to achieve it and keep on course to arrive. Here is Corinne’s story.

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher and help others learn. I knew from the start that I wanted to help make a difference. That became my goal, and I set out to begin accomplishing it.

I began by trying to gain enough experience working with others, especially children, to see if this was really for me. Before I was able to get a job, I volunteered at many camps, churches and community events that worked with children. I loved spending time there, and the connections I made with those children were ones I would never forget. I knew that once I was old enough, I would get a job as a camp counselor.

The summer going into my senior year of high school, I became a camp counselor and loved every bit of it! I had fun spending time with these campers, all while throwing in mini lessons throughout the day. I taught them to make friendship bracelets, how to work out problems with friends and how to treat people with kindness. The last day of camp was sad, but I am so happy to have made those memories.

Next, I got a job at a local daycare to get classroom experience and build connections with children. I still work there, and I absolutely love it. I have been there for almost two years, and going to work is never a chore. I learned that when children look up to you as a role model, they seriously mean it. They want to make you happy and show you that they are learning because of you. When you are an educator, you become that child’s second family.

Throughout high school, I took classes that would fit for my future career choice. I studied child development and “tomorrow’s teachers.” Both classes gave me hands-on classroom experience. In the child development class, we got to work with the Little Eagles, who are children attending preschool at Middletown High School South. We were able to create our own lesson plans for certain days and produce our lessons to the children.

The first lesson I taught was nerve-racking. I was frantic that I was going to mess up or my lesson would not make sense, but once I started presenting, all my worries were gone. I could see how much fun the children were having with the lesson which made me feel great. The kids and I were all happy. I think that is important for future teachers to realize that your students want to enjoy learning. I think any teacher can have a great bond with their students and put their all into lessons.

In the tomorrow’s teachers class, we learned a mix of educational psychology and lesson plan creation. At the end of the year, we were placed into another Middletown District School where we observed a classroom and even presented two of the lessons we created during the school year. We concluded by creating our own portfolio that explained our tasks in the school which I found great because I can use it for future job interviews.

I was excited to continue my education at Brookdale. I took a couple of classes on psychology, classroom management and classroom inclusion. I was also delighted that Brookdale has a program for students observing in a Monmouth County school. It is important field experience to earn before you transfer to a four-year school. It really gives you a first-hand feel of the field first before you go in fully to student teaching.

I am currently student observing in a nearby school, and it has been such a positive experience. I love working with the teacher and picking up tips I can use when I go into teaching myself.

This is the time of year when people outline their goals and hopes for the year. While my goal may have been teaching, the same things apply to whatever you are pursuing for your future. Set your goal and do not give up. Make sure to prepare yourself and get experience in some career fields that you enjoy. This can mean taking classes, getting a job, joining clubs and speaking to adults in that career. It can only help you, and it will allow you to see if you truly like it before you dive right in.

I am grateful for all the experience, help and guidance I have gotten while pursuing this career. And I am excited to keep working toward my goal of making a difference in a student’s life.