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Student Stories: Andrew Hays

I did my undergraduate work in political science and philosophy at SPU, where I was also a University Scholar. After graduating, I was accepted to Teach For America, and taught fourth grade for two years at He Dog Elementary School in Parmelee, South Dakota. He Dog is a small, country school on the Rosebud Reservation, which is home to the Sicangu Lakota band (the school, by the way, is named for a compatriot of Crazy Horse).

I returned to Seattle to get married and attend law school, though I would have loved to stay at He Dog for additional years. I did get married, but I had a change of heart regarding law school. I wanted to return to teaching, so I applied to SPU's Alternative Routes to Certification program.

In March, I finished my certification requirements, and I can honestly say that I now have an enriched sense of what is possible in education. Having worked only in low-income, high-needs schools, I might have developed a limited vision of how rich curriculum can — and should — be. My courses at SPU, however, pushed me to think about how I might go beyond teaching basic skills and about how I might teach in a way that actually changes my students' life prospects.

Probably the most important revelation concerning my faith came through a professor's talk on "radical optimism," and how this relates to his teaching. I won't say that I'm radically optimistic, but I aspire to it. I don't know that it's really possible to be a great teacher without radical optimism, without the ability to relentlessly hunt for the good in life and in others, and make the most of it.

I hope my students feel an urgent need to learn, and that they know that need will be met in my classroom. I hope that my role is reduced to "guide," as students take responsibility for their learning.

Abby LeBaron

Abby LeBaron shares her passion for teaching students to flourish and thrive in school.

Kateta Tagliavento

MAT graduate Kateta Tagliavento reveals her favorite teachers throughout her education.

Masha Ellis

Masha Ellis discusses her journey from studying geophysics in Russia, to the School of Education at SPU.

Katy Trapp

Read about ARC/MAT graduate Katy Trapp, a high school music teacher in Arlington, WA.

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