Caitlin Cook has always loved learning and wants to be able to share that love with future students. As a double-major in elementary education and special education, she gets to do just that.
“Being a teacher doesn’t end with teaching the curriculum,” she said. “It’s being a trusting and encouraging individual and role model for students who may not have that in their home life. I love having the opportunity to watch a struggling student have their ‘aha!’ moment, and advocating for students’ specific needs to help them succeed.”
Specifically, Caitlin wants to work in a middle school as a special education teacher, where she will also be able to utilize her Spanish minor. “Eventually, I would like to get my English Language Learners (ELL) certification.”
“I’d like to work in a middle school setting as a special education teacher and be able to utilize my Spanish speaking skills.”
“I’ve had exceptional professors throughout my career. I can’t choose just one as my favorite. The energy and excitement my professors have is inspiring! I particularly enjoy the different personalities each one has and the passion they have to see their students grow into professionals as well. Prof. Munk has been one professor who has pushed me to strive. He’s personable, honest, witty, and humorous. The dedication he has to his students is present every day as he gets to know his students and is flexible. I’ve had him for multiple courses including Behavioral Management and Assessment of Exceptional Learners. His assignments and projects are tough but completely applicable. Because of him, I feel more equipped to excel in my future as a special educator. He also gave me an opportunity to conduct research with him, Prof. Moore, and another student from which I learned immensely.”
“So far my favorite class has been Special Education Methods for Middle School Learners. Because I’m so interested in teaching middle school, the field experience associated with the course was my favorite by far. We mentored students at Washington Middle School during the spring semester, giving assessments and deciding which sorts of interventions to implement to help the student progress academically or behaviorally. I liked the challenge it presented and the relationship that developed between my student and me. I really got to know him, and it was rewarding to see how much he grew over our time together with my help. This field experience reaffirmed my choice to become a teacher.”
“Social Studies Methods was one of my toughest, yet most beneficial, courses.”
Opportunities at Carthage
“Carthage has allowed me to be a part of multiple organizations that deal with my interests. In addition, the education program allows students to partake in many field experiences including observations, teaching whole-class, and one-on-one mentoring type programs. I’ve learned a lot being able to experience different settings and levels of learners, from second grade to middle school. Working closely with Prof. Marilyn Ward, we planned a conference this past spring titled ‘Through the e-Looking Glass: Children’s Literature in the Digital Age.’ The process of coordinating speakers and logistics to make the conference a success was hard work but definitely rewarding. As a professional, I strive to look for opportunities to grow, and planning and attending this conference was a fantastic opportunity. I’ve also worked with Profs. Munk and Moore to conduct research regarding the benefits of outdoor/green education. Hannah Keller ‘14 and I were able to then turn our research into a poster for the Celebration of Scholars. Overall, I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve received to learn new things that will be valuable in my future career.”
“I’m the vice president of ADAPT, an organization on campus that advocates for people with disabilities on campus and in the community. We put on the Special Olympics basketball game in the spring and have done so successfully for the past two years. We also volunteer at the Arc of Kenosha helping for game nights, dances, etc. for adults with disabilities. I’m also a part of Alpha Mu Gamma, the foreign language fraternity, and I’m a part of SWEA (Student WEA).”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“Last spring, Hannah Keller and I headed the Center for Children’s Literature committee for SWEA. We planned and organized the Seuss-a-thon in the library, a day dedicated to celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday by participating in art activities, games, eating green eggs and ham, and listening to Dr. Seuss stories. After months of preparation and planning, it was fantastic to see the turnout. It made me see how much of a community Carthage is in itself, but also the impact it has on the surrounding community. Hannah and I both felt proud and accomplished to be able to make such a big, well-known event a success.”
Biggest surprise so far?
“I never thought I’d go on a J-Term trip, ever! I always told myself I couldn’t because it would be too expensive. However, when I found out Prof. Borden was taking a trip to Puerto Rico, I asked myself ‘Why not? When else will you be able to do this?’ I was able to utilize my Spanish-speaking skills and met many new people as I conversed with locals and obtained a sense of the culture of Puerto Rico beyond the tourist-type attractions and activities.”
What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?
“As an 8-year-old, I knew I wanted to teach. My ambition to become a teacher has matured and developed since then. My 8-year-old self would most likely remark, ‘See, you knew it all along! This is what you’re meant to be doing!’”
Advice for other students considering your major
“Teaching is not a profession to get into simply because you love children. Education is much more than that. For me, I am fascinated by the different ways students learn, and I love to see a child have success in the classroom. You have to be patient and eager to strive professionally as an educator. You’re always learning new things and technologies that can help you teach your students effectively.”