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"This opportunity not only allowed me to work with students from other cultures, but it also gave me a vast amount of resources, both educational ideas and connections, that will help me grow as an educator."

Aislin Shannon '19

Across the pond at SEK International School in Dublin, Ireland, Point Park University undergraduate and graduate education majors led classroom lessons and engaged students in outdoor activities and excursions.

“The SEK Summer Program was an opportunity for our pre-service teachers to have a hands-on teaching experience working in an international classroom setting. It gave our students an opportunity to engage with learners of different cultures and a chance to make comparisons with another educational system,” said Kamryn York, M.Ed., who accompanied the students on the trip.

York is a part-time undergraduate faculty member in the School of Education and an Ed.D. in leadership and administration doctoral student.

One of the Point Park students who traveled to Ireland was Aislin Shannon, a senior elementary education major from Iroquois High School in Erie, Pa.

“As an education major, one of the first things you learn is that not all students are the same. This opportunity not only allowed me to work with students from other cultures, but it also gave me a vast amount of resources, both educational ideas and connections, that will help me grow as an educator. SEK School allowed me to have the experience of conducting an entire classroom by myself, as well as create my own lessons,” Shannon explained.

As part of their field experience, the Point Park students taught classroom lessons to four different aged-groups in the mornings and then in the afternoons, led sessions ranging from sports and team-bonding activities to cooking classes and excursions involving kayaking, hiking and squirrel scramble zip lining.

“For my lessons, I usually incorporated discussions and writing activities since the main goal of my lessons was to help these English as a Second Language students improve their English speaking and writing. Because this program at SEK International School in Dublin was for Spanish students, not only did I experience Irish culture and education, I was also able to learn about Spanish culture and how the Spanish educational system works. I am so very thankful for this experience,” Shannon said.

Secondary education social studies major Cody Waltimyer taught lessons focusing on culture.

"My lessons were centered around what makes everyone’s culture unique and the differences amongst cultures around the world. I focused on teaching them about American culture and used these lessons to learn about the culture in Spain. Also, I taught on July 4, so I spent the day giving them a history lesson on our Independence Day and the history and culture surrounding that," explained Waltimyer, a graduate of York Suburban High School in York, Pa.

Waltimyer added: "The afternoon activity I was in charge of was sports. I loved playing soccer (football according to the students) and basketball with them. It was an effective way to encourage them to practice their English while playing, while having fun."

Junior secondary education English and special education dual major Madalena Price spent her time at SEK International School teaching public speaking and theatre.

“During my morning lessons, I helped students focus on using their English orally, and in the afternoons, the students interacted with each other through various plays,” said Price, a graduate of Greater Johnstown High School in Johnstown, Pa.

Price’s career goal is to earn a master’s degree in special education and work in an autism support classroom.

“This international experience taught me to always keep an open mind in a classroom and never underestimate a student’s ability,” Price said.


For junior secondary education major Gregory Nolf, the field experience also fit well with his career goals. 

“I sincerely love traveling and my hope is to teach for the Department of Defense on military campuses abroad,” said Nolf, a graduate of Redbank Valley High School in New Bethlehem, Pa.

Nolf added: “The students were incredibly friendly and the staff made me feel like family. This experience was an ideal one and I’ll never forget the time I spent there.”

More About: study abroad, special education, secondary education, education, graduate education, student trips, Redbank Valley High School