Education seniors ‘resilient’

Resilient. That is how Dr. Kelley Solomon will remember the senior education majors.

“The education department is extremely proud of our 2021 graduates,” associate professor of education Dr. Solomon said.  “As a cohort, they have encountered a new level of complexity within the education profession that is unprecedented.” 

Over the years, the class of 2021 has faced a number of challenges. The pandemic proved to be yet another obstacle.

“Facing the challenge of educating students during a pandemic, while working with the host teachers and university supervisors, also facing these new challenges, gave our preservice teachers the opportunity to showcase their pedagogical content knowledge, as well as their technological skills,” Dr. Solomon said.

The class of 2021 assisted with the implementation of virtual learning platforms while fulfilling the mission of the education department: “Preparing teachers who embrace learning and dedicate themselves to service and leadership in the profession.” 

Dr. Solomon said the department is extremely proud of Bailey Holt and Carly Breach in particular.  Both of which are secondary education majors that have earned their rank as 2021 valedictorians. 

“As secondary education graduates with content area degrees in their chosen fields of study, they have demonstrated dedication to the field of education and have become exceptional teachers,” Dr. Solomon said.  “These graduates have excelled and welcomed the rigorous challenges of academic and professional experiences.”

Holt, a secondary education major with a specialization in social studies, always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“I just felt like I needed to do something personally that I knew would make an impact in the world [and] in my community,” Holt explained. “I’ve always loved school … so I kind of just fell into teaching.”

Dr. Solomon commends Holt’s teaching skills and effort in the classroom.

“Possessing many skills and talents, Miss Bailey Holt has dedicated herself to learning and has proven to be a role model for her students,” she said. “ While student teaching in the content area of social studies, Miss Holt has handled the responsibilities of the classroom with the ease of an experienced educator.”

Despite Holt’s success, these past few years have not been easy. The students and faculty in the education department is what pushed her through it all.

“I could not be more thrilled with my time at Waynesburg. It’s become like a little family,” Holt said. “My father passed away during my time here at Waynesburg, and I would not have finished school without the support system in the education department.”

After graduation, Holt hopes to obtain a long-term substitute position and to attend graduate school later in her career.

Breach, a secondary education major with specialization in mathematics, has similar plans for after graduation. 

She plans to attend California University’s online graduate program, where she will receive her master’s degree in applied mathematics. Upon completion of her degree, she hopes to receive a full-time job as a high school math teacher.

Despite her future goals, Breach has also had to overcome challenges throughout her time at Waynesburg. Through these challenges, she has grown.

“Firstly, I’ve grown so much stronger in my walk with the Lord. Being surrounded by students, faculty and staff that are on fire for God and fellowshipping with them has been a blessing. It both challenges me and encourages me as I work to become more like the person God intends for me to be,” she said. “Secondly, my confidence has really grown. I see this so much throughout my education classes and throughout student teaching especially.”

Dr. Solomon commends Breach’s commitment to Waynesburg’s mission of faith, learning and service.

“During her preparation to become a mathematics teacher, Carly Breach has demonstrated the characteristics of a professional dedicated to service and learning,” she said. “She exemplifies the characteristics of an exemplary teacher devoted to student success.”

The class of 2021 has experienced a number of obstacles, yet Dr. Solomon said they continued to remain flexible and resilient through it all.

Breach’s advice to future education majors is to embrace challenges, just like she did as a student.

“Teachers bring their own unique personalities into their classrooms and that is what makes them shine,” Breach said. “In the education field, we know that sometimes students have to make mistakes in order to really learn and that applies to teachers just the same. So, don’t be afraid to take on challenges in your own way.”

As graduation looms on, Breach and Holt said they will miss the people they crossed paths with at Waynesburg University.

“I’ll just miss seeing my professors, seeing people that I have classes with, just having those interactions. Everyone at Waynesburg is so kind,” Holt said.

Breach reiterated Holt’s statement saying, “There are so many people on campus who are always available and willing to help. That giving spirit is contagious, and it shows as we do all that we can to help those around us.”

This article along with many others are included in the 2021 Commencement Issue of The Yellow Jacket. The full print layout version can be viewed here.