Sept. 14, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – When Mary-Lynn Hadley, now Mary-Lynn Kebker, enrolled in Slippery Rock University’s College of Education in 2007 she had a rock-solid plan. Her then boyfriend, now husband, came along for the ride, and now the two are part of a group of six summer SRU graduates starting their teaching careers in North Carolina schools.
Kebker, who married her high-school sweetheart two years ago while at SRU, said she knew when she started college she wanted to someday teach in North Carolina after a visit to the state as a young soccer player. “When I was there, I really liked the area. I have known I wanted to live there ever since I can remember. It has worked out perfect,” she said.
She began teaching as a first-grade teacher at Holly Springs Elementary, part of the Wake County Public School System in Raleigh. The district is the largest in the state with more than 146,000 students, 10,000 teachers and 165 school buildings. (There are between 16,000 and 17,000 total employees.)
“SRU has a very extensive program with the district,” said Pamela Soeder, professor of elementary education and early education, one of three student-teacher supervisors who work with the SRU students during their 12-week teaching program.
“This summer 21 students completed their student-teaching assignments with the Wake County system, and at least six accepted positions. Others may be considering offers.”
The SRU students were distributed throughout the district’s elementary and middle schools and taught from early May into August – finishing just in time for SRU’s summer graduation. “The district offers year-round schooling in a number of its elementary and middle schools through a four-track system, so that means our students can undertake their student-teaching requirements in early summer, right after spring semester ends,” Soeder said.
SRU and the North Carolina district have been in partnership for the student-teacher program for five years.
“Our students love the system. We work with some excellent teachers there, and they certainly enjoy having our students in their classrooms. Sherry Morris, a senior administrator for retention and recruitment in the district’s Human Resources Office, told me she enjoys our students because they are so well prepared,” Soeder said.
Kebker’s husband, Paul, said he started his teaching career as a fourth-grade teacher at the Raleigh district’s Fuller Elementary School. “I started in August and am teaching mathematics to one class, and I have another class of 50 students. It was just what I expected because I was an elementary education major with an elementary mathematics minor. I wanted to teach in a middle school, but jumped at the chance to teach at the elementary level. I know that my long-term goal is to move to a middle school, and I think that is possible here.”
Kebker, who started his academic career at SRU in athletic training, said, “A soccer scholarship brought my wife to SRU, and I just tagged along.” Originally from Toledo, Ohio, the couple said they saw the student-teaching opportunity in North Carolina and jumped at the chance. “We were excited, so we signed up and were accepted. It is great we both landed jobs in the same district,” Kebker said.
The Kebkers live in Holly Springs outside Raleigh. “It is one of the most popular schools in the district because it is known for its excellence. A lot of people chose to send their students here. When I started I had nine students, but that has grown to 15. It is a very popular track,” she said.
Another new hire in Wake County is Mathew Mauder, a July SRU physical education graduate from Munhall, who is now with the district’s Durant Grove Elementary School. He is a sixth- through eight-grade physical education teacher.
“I handled student teaching for seven weeks at the same school, then seven additional weeks at a nearby elementary school. I had planned to stay in the area even if I didn’t get a job in the district, but the Durant School had an opening and offered me a job just four weeks into the student-teaching program. I was lucky,” he said. “I knew I wanted to live here. I had lived in Pittsburgh all my life and was looking to try something different. SRU’s North Carolina program was a great opportunity.”
Mauder and Dylan Cisowski, another SRU secondary education and social studies summer graduate, met through the program and now, as fellow teachers, share an apartment in nearby Knightdale.
“It is a short drive to my school, East Wake Middle School, right outside of Raleigh,” Mauder said. The school borders Raleigh and Knightdale.
“As I thought about it, I realized Slippery Rock University really prepared me for student teaching,” Cisowski said. “I thought student teaching was going to be a lot more difficult that it turned out to be.”
Cisowski, originally from Greensburg, Pa., attended high school in Michigan.
“I have a pretty big class of students – 130 over four periods, so that means about 35 students per class for fifth-grade social studies,” he said. He was also hired at the same school where he completed his student teaching work and is teaching sixth graders.
“I’m looking to stay here. I like the school, the students and the geography. It is a good fit for me. They offered a job, and it was easy to take it. I finished my student teaching Aug. 8 and was back in the classroom as the teacher the next Monday,” he said.
Students participating in the program are housed in residence halls at the University of North Carolina. “We know each other from SRU, and we get to hangout on weekends, so all of us who have become teachers here are a pretty close-knit group,” Cisowski said.
Also accepting a post with the Wake County district was Kaitlin Houser, a summer education graduate from Venetia, Pa., who is now a third-grader teacher at Green Hope Elementary School. Kara Ryncarz, a summer elementary education graduate from Wheeling, W. Va., who was also part of the summer teacher-education program, interviewed last week and now has a job teaching first grade at the district’s Wilburn Elementary School. Kathleen Pol, a summer graduate and special education major from Erie, was hired this week, but has not yet been assigned a school.
Other students-teacher supervisors in this summer’s program were Ken Mills, a retired assistant professor in SRU’s College of Education, and Caryn Trapp, assistant professor of secondary education/foundations of education at SRU.
Greg Thomas, a spokesman for the Wake County district, said nearly all of North Carolina’s schools are county based. The district grows by an annual rate of 6,000 students, he said.
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