Current Master of Arts in Teaching student, Julie Lipson worked in the medical field for several years before pursuing her true passion in education. We had the opportunity to speak with her about how she made the transition and her experiences at Stevenson University Online.
I earned my bachelor’s at University of Pittsburgh and spent 20 years in the medical field where I started out as a cardiac neonatal ultrasound technician. Teaching residents was a part of my job which sparked my interest in the education field and from that moment on, I have wanted to teach. Now that I am teaching, I feel like I am living my dream. Currently, I teach seventh grade biology and eighth grade physical science at St. Michael - St. Clement School.
I was interested in Stevenson’s Master of Arts in Teaching because I am a mother and the majority of the courses are offered online and the program was affordable. I liked that Stevenson is small – the professors know who I am and three of them gave me references for my current position. I can reach out to them and they will get back to me. For my bachelor’s, I went to a massive school so this was a welcomed change. Additionally, I felt reassured that Dr. Anne Davis, the head of the program, has such an extensive background. The teachers in the MAT program are up-to-date on the 21st century teaching methods and therefore we are as well, which enables me to help other teachers at my school. The personal touch offered by Stevenson is amazing, I had many conversations and meetings with Dr. Davis in the beginning of the program when I was not sure if I was on the right track. I was always met with great feedback and support.
The most challenging aspect of my role as a teacher is differentiating between all the different learners. My classes are divided into two groups and even within those groups I could have someone that reads on-level, and another at a third grade level. An advantage I have is that I am a parent and older, which has allowed me to develop a level of patience some of my colleagues lack. And, because I am very outgoing and social, it helps me to get to know the kids. I always wanted to teach at the seventh and eighth grade levels, I love kids that age. They will come talk to me at recess and I get to know them better, which in turn helps me educate them better. I love science, and even seeing only five or six of my students excited about science in class makes me happy. Recently, one of my students was accepted into an upper-level high school science program.
To be a successful teacher, patience is needed. Teaching also requires you to be up-to-date on current teaching methods. And it sounds silly, but you need to like kids. I genuinely enjoy teaching, and specifically to this age group. I find them funny and engaging. A valuable lesson I have learned is to remember that every person you meet has a story, and that story is impacting how they view the world. You have to see them on that humanistic level to be successful as a teacher. Most of the time, it is not about you, but something else that is going on. I have learned to not take things personally. My advice for someone starting out in education is to have passion for the subject that you want to teach and patience. Those are the key ingredients. Be passionate about what you want to impart on your students, and be patient that they are not going to get it right the first time.
When I am not teaching, I read a lot and spend time with my children. They actually are at my school, which is a great part of my life. My grandmother was a huge inspiration to me. She lived to 98 years old, I had her around for a long time, up until 2 years ago. When I worked my clinical rotations, she imparted a lot of wisdom on me just by how she lived her life as a person and as a nurse. She was married with six children and went to school when women didn’t do that type of thing. She is still a big voice in my head; one of my favorite quotes of hers is, “You can always start a new life.”