Although she dreamed of working with children in her career, it wasn’t until after her freshman year of college that Samantha Elgin (’18) knew what she wanted her future to look like. “After a lot of reflection, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a teacher of young children,” she says. “This career path felt right to me, like something I was meant to do. Now I strive to have a positive impact in the lives of children. I hope to inspire them, spark their curiosity, and help them succeed.”
After exploring her options, Samantha ultimately transferred to UVM. “The Early Childhood Education program fit everything I was looking for,” she says. “I was excited by the fact that UVM has its own Campus Children’s School, and all of the opportunities throughout our coursework we have to be in the field.”
Amazing Community of Support
Now in her senior year, Samantha has a strong network of colleagues and friends. “The CESS (College of Education and Social Services) community is a close-knit and warm community among professors and students. I feel welcomed and supported, and have built strong relationships with my fellow cohort of students, professors, my advisor, mentor teachers, children, and families. I am grateful that I have people who really know me and understand me as a teacher. I feel inspired to be surrounded by successful people in the field who contribute to the field in so many ways. I love being part of this amazing community.”
Teaching in the Field
“My experiences in student teaching so far have been very rewarding…because of the growth I’ve had as a teacher, and the community built with the children, myself, my co-student teachers, mentors, and families.” Samantha’s first field work was in the Campus Children’s School, where she student taught in the preschool for a year with increasing responsibility over time. “I really enjoyed this experience, and continue to work in the same classroom weekly.”
This semester she is student teaching at Allen Brook Elementary School in Williston, planning and implementing group lessons in collaboration with her mentor teacher Adam Deyo ('99), who is a graduate of the Early Childhood Education program at UVM.
"Samantha seamlessly transitioned into this Kindergarten classroom," Adam says. "She has a natural ability to develop relationships with children and adapt to the flow of the day. Specifically, just yesterday she led a full group math lesson that engaged the entire group, leveraged technology to support the lesson, and reflected on the experience afterward. I am especially grateful that she has embraced the role of co-learner in the classroom, sitting and learning alongside the group as she teaches, a practice I believe in deeply."
Samantha is especially proud of her involvement with AFECT (Advocates for Exceptional Children Today), a club run by UVM student volunteers who work with COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter) and local homeless shelters. Students provide support and fun activities for kids in the shelters, and they also raise money in support of homeless children.
She also participated in UVM’s Alternative Spring Break Program (ASB) last spring. “I was part of a spring break trip that went to Cincinnati, Ohio to volunteer, work, and learn with the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. I learned and grew a lot from this trip, and I would highly recommend doing an ASB trip.”
Studying Abroad in Italy
Last summer Samantha took a UVM travel study course in Florence, Italy. “It was an incredible experience, and I would highly recommend going abroad. To live in a country where you do not speak the primary language, where everything is unfamiliar, and where you are exposed to different cultures." She also enjoyed having the opportiunity to travel and explore all around the country – hiking in Cinque Terre, seeing the Blue Grotto in Capri, and attending an Italian Opera in the Pitti Palace. "I grew a lot as a person throughout this experience with the independence, confidence, and maturity that comes with it.”
Last year Samantha received a scholarship award to attend the VAEYC (Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children) Conference, and this year she received two scholarships to attend two VELS (Vermont Early Learning Standards) Institutes. She is also a member of the Golden Key Honor Society on campus.
“I am interested in possibly teaching or working abroad. I also have an interest in social justice issues, so I’ve thought about the Peace Corps or Teach for America. For a long range goal, I would love to teach kindergarten or first grade, and get my master’s degree in education.”
Wherever she goes and whatever she does, there’s no doubt that Samantha will continue to make a difference in the lives of young children.