We sat down (via email) to ask PUC alumnus, Laura Helms, about her post-undergrad experiences. Laura Helms is a high school English teacher at Mountain View Academy.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
Laura: Since graduating from PUC, I have been teaching high school English at Mountain View Academy and starting "real" adult life (read: apartment hunting, paying astronomical rent and bills, taxes, a full-time job, cooking for one, but also being able to do whatever I want).
How were PUC English classes beneficial to your professional career?
Laura: The English classes I took, both literature and writing, have been immensely helpful as I have started my teaching career. I modeled some of my lessons after assignments or discussions I had had in various college classes, and gained a wide base of knowledge, analysis, and sometimes even random facts from which to pull when I need to answer students' questions or think on my feet.
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?
Laura: Some of my best memories are interacting with the English professors. There were so many times that Maria Rankin-Brown and I would be in her office for work and instead would be laughing at some random and insignificant but hysterical thing. Another highlight was our bad poetry reading at a Sigma Tau Delta induction ceremony, in which I banged on a trash can on stage.
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?
Laura: My first year of teaching was HECTIC (it deserves the capitalization). No amount of student teaching can truly get you ready for what it is like to prepare your own classroom and plan and teach a year of classes. That being said, it was also one of the most exciting and rewarding years of my life. It was invigorating to be in front of students every day and to be the one teaching them about literature and writing. My advice would be to not try to make everything perfect and just do what you need to do to survive. I am slowly learning to compartmentalize my life and allow myself to not (always) be a perfectionist.
Okay—Now for what we’re dying to hear! Pros and cons of private vs public school systems?
Laura: The private system has pros and cons, as does anything. A positive of the private system is the closeness of the community. I am genuinely friends with many of my students and the other teachers, which has helped me settle in to living in a new place without my friends nearby. I am still figuring out what works best for me and my students, and will likely forever be evolving and tweaking my teaching to make it as effective as possible.