Teaching Fellows – Samantha Friedman ’18

Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to
be a teacher. I used to teach to my empty basement and pretend there were students,
which was a little bit concerning to my family for a period of time. My name is
Samantha Friedman, I’m from St. Louis Missouri. I’m a teaching fellow and I’m
majoring in secondary history education and special education. The Teaching
Fellows program was a huge factor in my decision to come to Elon. Teaching
Fellows is so much more than just the scholarship or the cohort; some of my
very favorite Elon experiences have been as a result of Teaching Fellows. And so
our first year we do the History Study Tour over winter term. For me as a
history nerd, it was amazing. So we do three weeks of that, which is phenomenal,
and then sophomore year you study abroad, which was something I never would have
done if I didn’t have to do it… and also one of the most formative experiences
I’ve ever had. Junior year we go to DC and we do
education policy work. You come away with this understanding of “this is why I need
to be informed, and this is why I need to know what’s going on in politics and in
education policy.” So the inquiry requirement is another part of the
Teaching Fellows program; they require us to seek out a mentor to seek out a
project, and I think it’s one of the strongest parts of the program. A lot of
people don’t think about education as being a space for research, especially
undergraduate. I don’t think I would have had such an interest in research if it
hadn’t been something that the Teaching Fellows mentioned. So the Elon Education
program gets you into schools first year. Spring semester first year, you’re in the
classroom. And I happened to be in a kindergarten classroom, and after that
experience I have the utmost respect for people who work in elementary education.
I am NOT one of those people who can do that. And I discovered that I really like
working with older kids, and I really like working in really challenging
situations. I’ve set myself up while at Elon to challenge myself, and I’ve
discovered that that’s what I – that’s how I do best, and and that’s how… so I’ve focused
in on what I’m passionate about, and I’ve also discovered how to best support
myself and challenge myself within those realms.
And so I was working with high schoolers, and I thought that was gonna be the
scariest thing ever, and I realized that I would leave those
sessions working with these kids feeling so refreshed and so fulfilled. I think if
I had gone to a different school where the track was maybe a little bit more
set, I might not have been able to have that flexibility to realize. So we get
our placements at the beginning of our senior year, spring semester senior year
we are in the classroom. We ramp up and eventually teach a full course load. We
are at Williams High School in Burlington, North Carolina, which is where
I have my student teaching placement. So I’m here all day every day. Every single
thing you do is going to impact a kid in some way, positively or negatively. It’s a huge
responsibility, and it’s really scary, but I think that
Teaching Fellows prepares us well with all the experiences that we have,
especially in developing a sense of professionalism. And it’s just, it’s
incredible. I’m gonna miss Teaching Fellows probably like, the most out of
out of all the things at Elon.

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