Four seniors from Grace College, Winona Lake, Ind., were recently given awards for excellence in student teaching. Sydney Walker, Emily Bobb, and Deborah Michalski were named Outstanding Prospective Teachers, while Mandy Lessick was presented with the Indiana Future Reading Teacher Award.
Each school year Grace College School of Education selects one or more students who demonstrate excellence in their role as student teachers. Recipients are awarded a plaque and recognition for their achievements in the classroom for elementary, secondary or special education.
Sydney Walker, of Paw-Paw, Mich., taught kindergarten and special education in Leesburg Elementary School, and Mandy Lessick, of Brownsburg, Ind., also taught at Leesburg Elementary School. Emily Bobb, who hails from Seymour, Ind., taught third grade and special education at Washington STEM Academy and Warsaw Christian School. Deborah Michalski, originally from Xenia, Ohio, taught math at Lakeview Middle School.
“These ladies exemplify the excellence, both in and out of the classroom, of Grace College graduates,” said Dr. Laurie Owen, dean of the School of Education at Grace College. “We are very proud of the effort that they put in to their student teaching and education.”
Awardee Sydney Walker credits her mother, a supervisor of an alternative education high school, with inspiring her to pursue teaching. “As I was growing up, she always shared her exciting and often comical teaching stories at the dinner table. It was obvious that she loved her job and students deeply,” Walker said. Through teaching, Walker is learning to “slow down and think before I speak. I am becoming less of a control freak, giving students the opportunity to take charge of their learning whenever possible.”
“Because of student teaching, I have realized how fulfilling it truly is to serve others,” said Emily Bobb. She plans to return to her hometown and pursue her master’s in speech therapy.
Thinking back about the teachers that inspired her, “the common thread that they share is that they care far more about the students than their subject matter,” said Deborah Michalski. “They cultivated an environment in which their students feel comfortable, cared for, and motivated by their teacher,” she added. In the future, she’s open to any possibility: “stateside, overseas, you name it.”
“More than anything, the relationships with my students have impacted me as I have come to know their stories, fears, hopes, and dreams,” said Mandy Lessick. “My heart is really in special education, so I would like to be doing work as a special education teacher, possibly in a resource room or similar setting.”
The School of Education at Grace College teaches students professionalism, classroom instruction, planning, and management. Students also have opportunities for applied learning, P-12 classroom teaching and service projects in the community. Graduates are equipped with the skills, information, and temperament to become effective educators.