We sat down (via email) to ask PUC alumnus, Britney Daniel, about her post-undergrad experiences. Britney Daniel is now a seventh grade English teacher at a public school.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
Britney: Life since graduation has been crazy! I got married two weeks after graduation, and then I started my first teaching job a month later.
How were PUC English classes beneficial to your professional career?
Britney: I teach 7th grade English, so a lot of the literature I read for classes is not accessible to my students. I did take Adolescent Lit and read some really fun adolescent literature. When my students complain about their two-page writing assignment, I do like to regale them with horror stories of my 25-page senior project. But seriously, I think that every English class brought me to the point I am now at as a teacher. People look down on English majors because it's "not practical," but really, it teaches you about the context of life. We learn about history and perspective and how human beings work. How is that not practical?
What are your favorite memories as an English major? Did you have any weird/interesting experiences? (Anything about living in the dorms or Stauffer Hall experiences?
Britney: I absolutely loved being an English major at PUC. The department is like a family. Probably some of my favorite memories come from our pre-vespers in the department. It was so fun going to your professors' houses and enjoying them as people. I think that was really my favorite part of the department. The professors are so relatable and care so much. Basically, what I loved as an English major was being accepted into a family of people that understood and shared how much I loved stories.
What was your first year of teaching like? Is there any advice you can give to other first-year teachers or current majors who want to be future teachers?
Britney: They say your first year of teaching is hard, but that's an understatement. It is the most taxing and exhausting thing you could ever do. There is so much to teaching that student teaching can't show you. When you have a student introduce you to her mom as her favorite teacher, it makes it all worth it. When you have students drastically improve their reading comprehension scores or write an awesome paragraph, you know that this is where you want to be. As much as you would like it to be, though, teaching is not all about the kids. As a young teacher, you need to use the support system around you. Ask for help. But most of all, don't be too hard on yourself… Make it through!
Okay—Now for what we're dying to hear! Pros and cons of private vs public school systems?
Britney: It's funny that you bring up me teaching in a public school. As an Adventist working in a public school, I get a lot of probing questions about why I don't teach at an Adventist school. I always tell them, it's because they didn't hire me. I truly believe that I am where God wants me to be at Riverdale Elementary School.
What would I change? Who knows? You have no idea what you're doing your first year of teaching. Once you get some time under your belt, you realize that what you were doing before was not effective and you switch it around only to find that that didn't work either. It's one big puzzle that I don't think you ever quite solve. But that's the joy of it! As always, I want to grow as an educator and make a difference in my students' lives!