Throughout her teaching internship at Hunt Middle School in Burlington, UVM graduate student Erica Indiano can think of many moments and interesting stories that lead to the same conclusion. “Yea, I know I'm meant to be a middle school teacher.”

“I love the community, the energy, the challenges, and the school-spirit that gives you pride to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Working alongside professionals who support you to be a better educator is a profound feeling.” 

Enrolled in UVM’s Middle Level Education Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, Indiano in the midst of a yearlong internship with the school. From start to finish, students in the MAT program can earn a master’s degree and gain licensure to teach in just one year. 

“My internship is a glimpse of my future,” says Indiano, who enjoys the daily interaction with young adolescents. “Their sense of humor and youthfulness is one of a kind, and I believe I can make a great impact on such a moldable brain. Seeing young adolescents grow and thrive is one of the most rewarding experiences of all time.”

She says one of the most valuable aspects of the internship is the professional relationship with her mentor teacher. “I have someone devoted to watching my teaching management and philosophy in action!” She’s grateful for the open communication, sharing of knowledge, and sound advice. 

“I’m receiving true, professional critique on my teaching. I'm being prepared to be the best teacher, thanks to UVM and my internship.”

Erica Indiano student teaching at Hunt Middle School in Burlington.

Along with the focus on experiential learning, the MAT program has a unique approach within Vermont’s distinctive context. Core themes of the program include place-based, problem-based and project-based learning; social justice and sustainability education to engage middle schoolers in democratic citizenship; and personalized and proficiency-based curriculum designed to support learning and growth.

Indiano created a climate change unit supporting a district-wide, climate justice project for the Burlington Middle School Climate Summit 2020. “It’s a PBL (project-based learning) designed unit where students are given choice and student voice,” she explains. “Students can choose one of their passions and relate how it's connected to climate change. Their student voice is informing and presenting to their peers, as well as engaging with Burlington community members. Through either an action project, a research project, or a solution design project, students will feel empowered by this convention event. I’m so excited to be a part of this project and work with the district.”

The MAT program has been a perfect fit for Indiano, who graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2014 with a B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture. She also appreciates Burlington's diversity as one of the best qualities of the school community. “Students are exposed to different customs and traditions within the school, and while I personally learn something new almost every day about a different culture, they grow up with each other and develop incredible friendships.”

Teaching licensure, along with endorsements in multiple content areas (Math, Science, Social Studies, and English), positions MAT graduates like Indiano for placements in middle schools throughout Vermont and across the country. The program is open to applicants with an undergraduate degree from any institution, and to current UVM students who are interested in pursuing the Accelerated Master’s Program pathway. 

Describing teachers as the hardest working people that she has ever worked alongside, Indiano believes they influence and prepare her to be a better person all around.

“Kids spend half their lives with teachers. We are raising a future generation of leaders and successful humans of society. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.”