Archive for the 'Alumni Voices' Category

The Importance of Mental health: A Letter From One Marquette Student to Another

counselorBy Sabrina Bartels

Earlier this month, the Journal Sentinel published this article on Markus Howard. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.  After reading it, I felt compelled to write a little note to him.

Dear Markus,

To start with a cliché: you don’t know me, but I know a little bit about you. I am an avid Marquette fan, having graduated from Marquette with my undergrad degree in 2011 and my Master’s in School Counseling in 2013. I have watched games where all the odds have been stacked against us, and seen you help lead the team to victory. Earlier this month, you helped elevate the team over Creighton, scoring a historic 53 points and whipping Marquette nation into an absolute frenzy.

And because of your skill, my 8th graders have started taking notice. They talk about how great you are and how much they want to be like you. They talk about going to Marquette someday and playing in the Fiserv Forum. I’ve had kids try to imitate your three-point shot so they can use it during their own games. They talk about someday beating your free throw point average.

You are an absolute hero to them because of what you do on the court. For me, you are a hero for what happens after the game has ended.

You may not know it, but I’m hoping my students are watching you because of the way you portray yourself. You make sure to stay humble. (I just saw an interview you gave after the Creighton game, and when asked about how you are so effective at what you do, your response was “I play on a great team.” Nothing about how you scored about half the points Marquette made that night.) You give back to the fans. You volunteer and work hard. You are a great leader on the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball Oversight Committee. But most importantly, you’ve gone public on the importance of mental health in athletes.

As a counselor, mental health is my daily job, but it’s often hard to put it into perspective with my 13- and 14-year-old students. My kiddos come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and all of them come in with a different perspective on counseling. Some students love having me at school, so they can talk about their problems. Some just think I’m a friendly person to have around. But then there are some who view counseling as weak. They don’t want to ask for help, for fear of how that makes them look. And these are the kids that I struggle connecting with the most. It’s almost like we have little boundaries up that are hard to overcome.

The fact that you talked about seeing a psychologist as “just another practice” has really opened up the door to a lot of my students. Suddenly, talking to a mental health professional is not taboo. It’s not weird; it’s not only for people they think are “crazy.” It’s for everyone who needs someone to talk to. And my hope is that my students start to embody that mentality, that counseling is something that can help everyone, regardless of age, race, orientation, socioeconomic status, etc.

You’ve also opened the door to talking about mental health openly. A lot of my students think that mental health – good or bad – is a very private thing, or something that could never happen to them (“I’m a good student, so I can’t have anxiety”). And while it is in some respects private, talking about how mental health has affected you or someone you know can open doorways to others sharing their own personal experience, which all helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

It was also important for my students to hear why spending time with people you love is important. Some of my students are going through a phase where it isn’t cool to spend time with family, or people in general who love them. In an age where isolation is all too common, having someone whom they look up to emphasize the importance of connection is all the more special.

So thank you. Thank you for speaking out and using your voice to inspire others. Best of luck the rest of this season.

We are Marquette!
Sincerely,

A grateful school counselor

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Katie Syc

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, Katie Syc. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduation!

My name is Katie Syc, and I grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois; and my parents still live there. My sister and her family live in Rochester, New York. My mom often jokes that my dad and she never really had an interest in math and medicine for their own career, which of course are the two fields that interest me and my sister! Currently, I’m teaching at DePaul College Prep where I teach Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and a Math Intervention Course. In addition to being a teacher at school, I am a monitor of the Young Women’s Leadership Club and coach of the DePaul Prep Track Team.

My favorite educational experience in the College of Education was the NOYCE CO-OP experiences at various schools throughout the Milwaukee area. It was a great experience because the other Noyce Scholars and I had an opportunity to engage and participate in the various practices we learned about in our classes. Instead of just reading about the different theories, we practiced them while discussing our strengths and weaknesses. Starting this process before student teaching gave me more confidence. It also allowed us to engage with administration, social workers, department chairs, and the parent associations which broadened our skills sets to apply later in student teaching and in our careers. This unique opportunity gave us the time to practice our skills and learn from our mistakes right then and there. My participation in the program also allowed for networking and attending various NSF Noyce Programs which allowed us to share and learn different teaching strategies. In addition, by teaching at such various schools, we were also able to get a better sense of the types of schools we would like to teach in after graduating. Looking back at my studies at Marquette in the College of Education, I am so happy I participated in the Noyce Program!

One of my own high school math teachers was my inspiration to become a teacher myself. He was someone who didn’t just teach math, but rather mentored us. He didn’t teach us what to think, but rather how to think. I want to do the same with my own students!

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With TJ Bongiorno

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, TJ Bongiorno.

tjI currently work in Illinois High School District 201 (J. Sterling Morton West High School) teaching sophomore and junior level integrated mathematics courses. I grew up in Brookfield, IL, which is about 20 minutes west of Chicago. I have been married for a little over a year to my high school sweetheart and currently do not have any children. My parents still live in the area and my only sibling – a brother – lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

My favorite educational experience has to be the consistency in which my job is different! I know that sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true! Teaching, unlike other professions, gives you a different experience every single day. The changing classes, age groups, etc. gives you an opportunity to impact many different lives in many ways. The Noyce Program allowed me more in classroom experience that definitely helped prepare me for what to expect in my own classroom. Also, the individualized courses that were offered through the Noyce Program were excellent since I was able to spend more time with a professor who was also currently a high school teacher.

In my free time, I love watching and playing baseball and hockey. I have coached baseball at the junior varsity high school level and intend on continuing to do so for as long as I can. If you do work in a school, get involved somehow. Start a club or become sponsor to a club, get students excited about being in school!

I would say my inspiration for my work is my high school math teacher, Mr. Steve Yurek. He was someone who always made (sometimes a boring subject) interesting and fun. He is someone I have kept in contact with in order to grow in my profession.

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

 

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Thess Dobbs

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, Thess Dobbs. Currently teaching at Milwaukee School of Languages, Thess was recently awarded the Edyth Sliffe Award for Distinguished Teaching in Middle School and High School. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduating!

thessI teach high school math at Milwaukee School of Languages (MSL). At MSL I also lead the math club, which I started in 2014. In this club, we work on more challenging math that goes above and beyond the standard curriculum. Our students have the opportunity to wrestle with challenging competition-level problems and receive guidance to help them build their skills. Through fundraising we make all activities free or low-cost for our students, and we are proud to make these opportunities, often reserved for privileged students at elite schools, accessible to our students. The racial disparities in the STEM fields begin with the inequities in our school systems, and the process to end those disparities must also start with our schools.

Originally, I am from Milwaukee and grew up with a lot of brothers and sisters. My dad is a professor, and both my parents placed a strong emphasis on learning. Being a big sister made me a natural teacher. The Noyce Program gave me more hands-on experience than the typical pre-service teacher has. It wasn’t until student teaching that I really had to learn how to manage a classroom, but the relationships built during my field placements helped me maintain my confidence during the hard times later on. Thanks to the amount of time spent in field placements, I also got a good sense of the school culture of a few different schools.

Even though we aren’t in touch as much as we used to be, I feel the bond still exists between the Noyce Scholars in my cohort. All the formative experiences we shared as undergraduates are not easily forgotten. One person who inspires me is my grandma, Leona Sherrod, who passed away three years ago. She taught in public school for eighteen years, and taught for eighteen more years in prisons’ adult education programs. Though she is gone now, I’m glad she got to see me become a teacher too.

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Changing Climate: Counselors Getting Crafty!

By Sabrina Bartels

At the start of this school year, the Student Services department decided to help “beautify” our building. Here are some fun things we did to help our school climate!

  1. “Be the nice kid” quote. This was one of the most difficult things we did, but it was definitely worth it. We started by purchasing white paint and painting over a small section of the brick wall. We then projected a picture of the quote on the wall and traced the lettering, before finishing off the words with a couple coats of paint. It was finicky and stressful, but we’ve gotten tons of compliments on it. If you’re thinking of adding this quote to your school, we recommend picking up a variety of brushes to accommodate the different fonts. Also, this is a team activity – all the painting can get very tedious for just one person! Be the nice kid
  2. Drake bulletin board. Our students love this one (and also use it as an excuse to sing the song “Hey Keke.”) We saw a bulletin board on Facebook that used the quote, so we adjusted it a little to fit our school and added our own picture of Drake. We hope that it encourages our students to start thinking about their post-secondary education paths. It’s also a fun way to incorporate a little pop culture into school! Bulletin Board
  3. And speaking of education paths … we added a bulletin board outside of Student Services so we could post our own educational paths. Our students love seeing where all of us went to school! We’ve also used our new bulletin board to post inspirational quotes for our students to read. Educational PathwaysEducational PathStudent Services board
  4. Inside Out bulletin board. We also created a bulletin board that offers students a gentle reminder about what we do in Student Services. So often, we have students who don’t know what our roles are, or what they can talk to us about. Inside Out
  5. Pennants. In September, we sent out emails to (almost) all of the colleges and universities in Wisconsin, asking for pennants and any “swag” the colleges had to promote their school. The responses we got were overwhelming! Around 15 schools (Marquette included!) not only sent us pennants, but were super generous in sending us t-shirts, temporary tattoos, stickers/decals, water bottles, and more! Thanks to their kindness, we are able to start discussing post-secondary education right now with our students. We wanted to hang them over the bulletin board outside our office, but are trying to find something better than duct tape to hold them up.

Catching up with Courtney Farley

After completing student teaching last January, Courtney Farley finished out the rest of the academic year as a long-term substitute. However, with the new school year beginning, so is her new adventure! Courtney will be spending the next year teaching English in Spain. Read on to hear all about it.

farleyBy Courtney Farley

I grew up in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. I attended Queen of Apostles grade school, Catholic Memorial High School, and then found myself at Marquette. I have one sister, who graduated from Madison last year in biology and is now doing an accelerated nursing program at Madison. My mom works for Sherwin Williams in sales and my dad is a retired lawyer and now loves spending his days golfing. Finally, we have our dog, Guinness, who is a mini golden doodle and easily the family favorite.

I have been attending Marquette Basketball games ever since I could walk. My dad went to Marquette and so did a lot of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. I grew up surrounded by people who loved Marquette and I knew that there was no other college that I wanted to go to. I came into Marquette knowing I wanted to major in Spanish, but not knowing what I wanted to do with it. I have worked at a summer day camp every summer since high school and knew I loved working with kids. I transferred into the College of Ed my sophomore year and absolutely loved all the classes I was taking. The class size and relationships I have formed with my peers and with the professors are incredible and that is what I love most about the College of Ed. You truly feel valued and your professors want you to succeed and help you as much as they can.

Someone who has been an inspiration to me and has made a huge impact is my high school Spanish teacher, Señora Diedrich. She was so passionate about teaching Spanish and made me realize how much I love it. She created a classroom environment where we felt like family and weren’t afraid to make mistakes. She cared about each of her students and helped us along the way. I hope to make as big an impact on my students as she did on me.

I had such an amazing experience during my student teaching at St. Anthony’s in Milwaukee. I was placed in a third-grade classroom with an amazing cooperating teacher. Student teaching can be very nerve-racking those first couple weeks, but everyone at the school made me feel welcome and part of the St. Anthony family. My cooperating teacher always explained everything and always asked for my input and reflections on lessons. Taking over teaching and getting to use all that I learned at Marquette was awesome. Not only did I get to see what really worked in my classroom, I got to grow and learn through those lessons that didn’t go as smoothly. I was lucky enough to get to stay at St. Anthony after student teaching and take over a 4th grade class as a long-term sub. I continued to learn so much about myself and realized how passionate I was about teaching.

I am going to be in Spain teaching English to kids from ages 3-18. I am going through a program that allows me to pull out small groups of children to help them learn English. I just took an online class and got my TEFL certification. I am excited to put everything I learned from the class into practice. I will be living in a small city outside of Barcelona called Vilafant.

While I am in Spain, I will be staying with three different host families. I chose this program partly because I wanted to stay with a host family. I am excited to become a part of their family and live a true, authentic Spanish lifestyle. I am so excited to get to learn more about the Spanish culture and what it means to make Spain my new “home.”

I am also excited to continue to grow as an educator and see what other school systems are like outside the United States and how I can bring back what I learned abroad and implement it in my own classroom.

I don’t know anyone else doing the program. I am going over there and am a little nervous about not knowing anyone, but more excited for the possibility to meet so many new people. This will force me out of my comfort zone and allow me to learn more about myself. I’m excited for the chance to teach abroad and to learn from the people in Spain gets me excited when I think about it. I will be in a whole new country, but I will still be doing what I love, which is teaching, working with children, and experiencing new cultures.

 

 

You Can’t Support LeBron’s New School and Be Against Charter Schools

bill

By Bill Waychunas

LeBron picked a team this summer that turned a lot of haters into fans and raised questions about what the fans are actually cheering for. I’m not talking about the Lakers or even basketball. I’m talking about schools.

There has been a lot of buzz around LeBron contributing millions to open the I Promise school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

And, as the kudos have rightfully rained down for LeBron’s commitment, many people have qualified their support of I Promise with the point that it is a traditional public school and NOT a charter school. It’s good for kids because he’s on our team.

So, as many raise banners to support LeBron’s school, they also raise the question, do they support the education of children, or do they support traditional public schools? What kind of fans are they anyways?

But education isn’t sports. In sports, you can have a favorite team. In sports, there are winners and losers. I would argue that societal tolerance of certain students “losing” in schools is the greatest historical and current injustice in public education. When it comes to education, we can’t have teams or sides. We should cheer for all children, families, and communities, not just if they happen to be on our team.

More frustrating is the irony of those touting I Promise as a traditional public school who don’t realize that it functions more like a charter school. Like that player on other team that you can’t stand, but secretly wish was on your team (think any player from Duke or these guys), LeBron’s school is exposing many of his supporter as hypocrites as they embrace a school which they previously would have criticized if it was a charter school.  

Let’s first acknowledge the hypocrisy around philanthropy. When charter schools accept donations, they are allowing privatizers to influence schools in an attempt to destroy public education. How is LeBron’s money different? If LeBron wasn’t a basketball player, but a Wall-Street type with ties to Akron, would his philanthropy receive the same welcome, even with the same good intentions? Not likely. We shouldn’t need to rely on celebrities to support public institutions like our schools anyways, but when money is given for the benefit of children, it shouldn’t matter what team (or type of school) is cashing the check.

The I Promise model, which is being touted as a long-awaited miracle for students, is based off the successes of urban charter schools, such as KIPP and Rocketship. These include, “longer school days, a non-traditional [longer] school year, and greater access to the school, its facilities, and its teachers” with the aim of “reducing the achievement gap between low-income students and their peers.” When charter schools do the same things, they are accused of exploiting teachers, having deficit views of children, and being overly focused on standardized testing.

I Promise fans should also acknowledge that, like charter schools, LeBron’s school is a school of choice. According to Time, “[t]he school selected area students from among those who trail their peers by a year or two in academic performance,” used a random lottery to decide who was admitted, and made phone calls to the families, asking “How would you like to be part of something different, the I Promise School.”

Let’s unpack that a bit.

Giving parents the option of “something different” implies that something isn’t working with their current public-school option, a foundational argument in favor of school choice. This also means that the kids selected would otherwise be going to neighborhood public schools. With funding being allocated on a per-pupil basis, for every student who goes to LeBron’s school, they take away a little more than $10,000 from their originally assigned school. That means less money for teachers, supplies, technology, and other supports.

The best teachers from Akron are also being extracted from the neighborhood schools. They even had to approve a separate union contract for these teachers, further implying that something isn’t working with the status-quo in the school district. If these students and teachers were leaving their traditional public schools for charter schools, it would be draining resources from neighborhood schools. But again, right player, right team. That means instead of extraction or injustice, it’s opportunity.

The selection kids by lottery may most clearly expose elements of hypocrisy for some fans who support the #WeChoose movement, which is associated with Journey for Justice Alliance and the Badass Teachers Association. They claims that charter schools are a scam and don’t offer a real choice to families, in part because the “choice” of quality schools is only available to some lottery winners, while leaving the rest behind. They advocate for well-funded schools with wrap-around services for ALL students, not just the lucky ones that won LeBron’s lottery. Clearly, the I Promise school is a step in the right direction, but it surely doesn’t serve all students or all schools. What about the students that are left behind? Clearly, one can’t claim that advancing the interest of some in LeBron’s school is progress while criticizing progress for some in charter schools is a problem.  

The bottom line is that the services and model at LeBron’s school would be good for kids, families, and communities no matter what type of school he opened. That’s what we should be focusing on, not the type of school.

If we’re going to be fans, let’s be fans for all kids, not just the ones on “our team.”

 


What is a Marquette Educator?

Follow us on Twitter

Archives