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Meet Cydney Haines '24

Job Title & Employer
Assistant Teacher, Brightside Academy
Education Pre-K – 4th Grade
Homewood, Pa.
High School
Woodland Hills Senior High School
Hobbies & Interests
Arts and crafts, such as Cricut and Glowforge projects; creating centerpieces, balloon arches and decor for the party planning business I run with my mom

"It's a different kind of learning here. I'm in class with 15 other students at the most, and I am able to build relationships with all of them. At Point Park, I'm not just here. I am involved, and I know the person sitting three seats away from me. I love it."

Cydney Haines '24

Why did you choose Point Park?

At first, I had two different schools to choose from - Point Park and another school. The way Point Park reached out to me – it was like they really wanted me to come here; it wasn't just an acceptance letter and that's it. It was an acceptance letter, handwritten letters congratulating me and phone calls to talk to me about the next steps. The other school only sent me an acceptance letter. I was like, "Point Park is my next step." 

What led you to a career in education?

As a kid, I always played school. I couldn't be the student, I always had to be the teacher. I had a teacher send a desk home with me one summer because I was so into school. Back then, I was like, "Oh, this is just me playing," but as time went on, I realized I really loved working with children, and they're my passion. In 11th grade, I worked at an after-school program called the Reading Warriors. We worked with students who scored low on standardized testing and helped them with homework. One of the teachers saw how I worked with one of the students and asked me to shadow her. During my shadowing experience, she said, "You're going to be great here." Since then, I've always had a job working with children. I've worked at daycares, the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, multiple elementary schools and as a program director at the Sarah Heinz House. Anything that has to do with children, I'm all for it. 

Pictured are Cydney Haines and her son. Photo by Ethan Stoner.How has Point Park made it possible for you to balance work and being a mom? 

The relationships with the professors at Point Park are unlike anything I've ever experienced. They're so understanding. They have background knowledge of who I am and what I have going on, so when things do come up, they know I am a student who is serious about my work and doesn't miss class just to miss class. They know my work is usually on time, so they encourage me to take care what I need to take care of outside of class and then get back to my assignments. It takes so much stress off of me.

Being able to pick my school for my field experience has also been a great advantage. Sometimes I do have to drop my son off at daycare, and now I can drop him off and go to my field experience just up the street at a nearby elementary school. The professors understand how convenient it is for me, and they know I'm getting my hours done. I'm observing a third-grade class at Pittsburgh Public Schools Sunnyside PreK-8 right now, which is actually my dream grade to teach. I absolutely love it. The flexibility and understanding that Point Park's faculty have shown me have made my experience so much easier. 

Which faculty members have had a significant impact on your Point Park experience?

Kamryn York, Ed.D., was probably one of the first professors that I bonded with. I came in for the first day of class and didn't know any of the other students or faculty yet. I know we're adults, but I still felt like a nervous kid on the first day of kindergarten. Dr. York was so warm and welcoming. Her class is so enjoyable. The fact that I felt like I was a part of the environment so quickly made all the difference. 

What are three things you appreciate the most about the School of Education?

  1. It is a hands-on learning experience. Yes, I do believe books are important, but being able to get into a real-world classroom and see what's going on? I love that.
  2. There are always resources available. When we have to build our own lesson plans, I know I can go up to one of our Matt's Maker Space Labs and explore endless materials. 
  3. We're learning how to incorporate maker education into our lessons, like Tinker Toys and all kinds of tools. I love crafting, and I'm learning how to incorporate that into the lessons I create. The creativity that maker education inspires allows students to explore different ways of thinking. 

How have you been able to apply what you’re learning to your current role?

We don't have a maker space, but I'm constantly sourcing miscellaneous items to add to our maker education materials and work that into our students' activities. We read a book called, "The Miraculous Thing," in which the main characters makes all kinds of creations. I put the maker materials bin in the middle of the table, and our students got to make their own miraculous thing. They got to name it, and they told me what it did. Being able to bring that type of learning into our classroom is amazing. Point Park is helping me learn how to adapt in my own classroom. 

Pictured is Cydney Haines and her son. Photo by Ethan Stoner.Has there been a moment where it all came together for you that you made the right choice to come to Point Park?

A big factor in my decision to come to Point Park was the location. The college I attended before enrolling at Point Park was an hour and a half away. I am so thankful to attend school just 15-20 minutes away from home, plus I'm able to utilize the free student bus pass program. I can be there for my son whenever he needs me. I am in a safe space. My teachers are understanding. I am a part of the community here. It's a different kind of learning here. I'm in class with 15 other students at the most, and I am able to build relationships with all of them. At Point Park, I'm not just here. I am involved, and I know the person sitting three seats away from me. I love it. 

Why would you recommend Point Park to other prospective students, especially working parents?  

I will continue to praise how flexible Point Park is. If I forget an assignment, I know I'll get a call or an email about it. The University works with its students so much. I tell my mom that I wish I had started at Point Park from the beginning. I feel like it's my home, and I don't want to just go to a school. I want to feel like I belong, and that's what I feel at Point Park.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I'm extremely blessed to have this experience to be at Point Park and feel welcomed into this community.

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