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"I am eager and ready to have a classroom of my own. I will be the teacher who helps students reach their full potential."

Allie Pennetti '22, M.Ed. in PreK-4th Grade

Fostering authentic relationships, taking time to listen, and becoming a student of students: The takeaways shared during the School of Education's annual Celebration of Student Teaching represented many of the lessons Point Park's faculty and staff instill in students throughout their undergraduate and graduate careers. The event recognized the academic success of 48 student teachers, one of the University's largest classes of student teachers in recent memory.

"I can't wait to see what the world looks like once you've changed it," said Michael Soto, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs. 

Soto, as well as Darlene Marnich, Ph.D., founding dean of the School of Education, and Joseph R. Greco Jr., chair of Point Park's Board of Trustees, cheered the students in their remarks for pursuing a career dedicated to changing the lives of others. 

"It feels wonderful to be recognized for our hard work," said Malinda Smith, a graduate of the M.Ed. in secondary education program who completed her student teaching placement at Gateway High School. "Student teaching is a lot of work and a lot of hours, but it reaffirmed that I want to be a teacher. My students were awesome. They made me feel at home." 

Smith was just hired at Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Va.

"My Point Park experience helped me prepare my portfolio and get interview-ready," she said. 

Professors Christal Edmunds, Ph.D., Virginia Chambers, Ed.D., and Richard Gutkind, Ph.D., along with Marnich and Denise Beverina-Moore, M.A., director of student placement, presented students with their teaching certificates, with several students invited to the podium to share their most memorable moments from their student teaching placements.

Ashley Castelli, an elementary education and special education major, completed her placement at Brookline PreK-8 in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system. She shared an emotional story about a time when she helped calm a special needs student who was having a difficult day. The student, who has speech and hearing challenges, loves to be a helper, Castelli said, so she invited him to help her put together her activity resources for her next class. Because Castelli knew how much the student enjoyed assisting others, she was able to identify a solution.

"This shows just how important relationships with students are," she said. "This moment proved to me that I really am meant to be a teacher."

At Bethel Park's Independence Middle School, Jillian Traynor, an M.Ed. in secondary education student, had her a-ha moment when she shared an experience from her previous career with her students. A former news reporter, Traynor talked about her time spent covering the White House to help students connect with a unit on the executive branch of government. As students became engaged with her extraordinary take on a somewhat ordinary lesson, Traynor grew more confident in her creativity and learned the value of an "outside-of-the-box, hands-on approach."

"I now recognize the true definition of being a lifelong learner," she said. 

Allie Pennetti, a student in the M.Ed. in PreK-4th Grade program, completed her student teaching at Ingomar Elementary School in the North Allegheny School District. She shared a story about how she worked one-on-one with a student who was struggling with English and math and successfully changed the students' attitude toward both subjects for the better.

"I am eager and ready to have a classroom of my own," she said. "I will be the teacher who helps students reach their full potential."

Read more about School of Education students and alumni in the stories linked below:

Learn about the School of Education's approach to teaching in this video: 

More About: success story, education, secondary education, Ed.D. in leadership and administration, elementary education, faculty, early childhood education, special education, School of Education