Every profession occupies a specific niche in society—doctors heal, engineers design and journalists write. Teaching, however, stands out as an all-encompassing line of work. Teachers are essential to every profession, and Southern Utah University is molding ace teachers who are leaving the Beverley Taylor Sorenson College of Education & Human Development as outstanding educators.
The Class of 2014 is packed with students who have accepted teaching positions at elementary, middle and high schools in about every topic and will begin teaching fall 2014. With their pencils sharpened and white boards cleaned, they are all ready for their first group of students they’ll teach as official educators.
One of those students is Whitnie Whitbeck, math education major from Beaver, Utah, who recently accepted a position as a seventh and eighth grade math teacher at Payson Junior High School in Payson, Utah.
During her first semester at SUU, Whitbeck wandered, like many students, trying to decide on a major she would enjoy. While in a general math class she was pulled aside and given the direction that spurred her to become who she is today.
She said of that moment, “After class one day my teacher noted I was doing well in the class and asked me about my future plans and recommended I look at math as an option. I guess all it took was for someone to nudge me in the direction of math education and I was hooked.”
Under the tutelage of extraordinary SUU professors, Whitbeck soon realized her ability to instruct young students in math, and stated that countless hours were spent with her professors giving individual attention and help.
She added, “I honestly feel that I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without my professors being so invested in me succeeding.”
Whitbeck isn’t the only student whose encouragement by professors resulted in a career path. Many students wander between majors before finding their niche, and for Keith Howells that’s exactly what happened.
Going from sociology to graphic design to now outdoor recreation in parks and tourism, Howells has blossomed and is a leading coordinator of outdoor excursions for the SUU community. But now with graduation looming around the corner he is taking his skills and abilities to the Four Corners area to be a river rafting and canyoneering guide.
“I am finalizing my skill set for graduate school and guiding a group down a river is a skill that I don’t have yet, my internship will help with that,” said Howells. “I have loved my time here at SUU and all the fun I had. Taking people out backpacking or canyoneering was amazing and I hope to continue doing that.”
Howells will begin graduate school shortly after his internship with the hopes of staying in academia and furthering programs that he began at SUU’s Outdoor Engagement Center.
“I see people like my professors and I am extremely jealous of their jobs, I want to be like them,” Howells stated.
But before Howells jumps in front of the white board, he is hoping to attend graduate school for outdoor recreation.
Obtaining a master’s degree before the instruction begins is the same path for Kathleen Kelsey, athletic training major from Orem, Utah.
Jetting up north to attend Brigham Young University’s athletic training master’s program, Kelsey will be attending to the needs of many of BYU athletes before she becomes a sports medicine teacher at a high school.
A transfer student, Kelsey stated of her reason to come to SUU, “As I started to apply to colleges, SUU is the only university that made me feel like they truly wanted me there and I knew that I could receive a lot of clinical experience, and I was able to do just that.”
During her two years at SUU, she helped athletes in almost every sport, but was mainly the athletic trainer for the Flippin’ Birds. Kelsey tended to the highflying gymnasts, which she states gave her the necessary confidence to excel academically.
With these superb students soon becoming top-notch teachers, the Class of 2014 boasts graduates that will go on to influence thousands of students. Congratulations graduates, we are excited to see the thousands positive impressions you’ll make.