Student Stories: Margaret Hanscom

Growing up in Lake Oswego, Oregon, I always pictured myself becoming a teacher. But when I first started at Seattle Pacific University, I headed down the path of becoming a dietitian. After taking some nutrition prerequisites my first quarter, however, I realized that although I enjoy learning about nutrition, I didn't love it enough to have my entire career centered on it.

That's when I went back to my original plan of pursuing education. In the Integrated Studies major, students choose an emphasis in one of the six areas of elementary teaching. I decided to have my emphasis in health and fitness. It ended up being a perfect compromise of my two loves!

I have been able to follow my dream of becoming a teacher, while still enjoying some classes in nutrition and health. One of the things I am most excited for is becoming involved in schoolwide health and nutrition activities. I can picture myself starting a school garden, heading up a school run-a-thon, or encouraging walking to school.

Before student teaching in my Internship Quarter, I'd always pictured myself teaching third, maybe fourth, grade. When I first learned I was assigned to student teach in a sixth grade classroom in an urban school, I was freaked. But I found I truly enjoy this age group! My students are dynamic and interesting people -- with a lot of spunk and a great sense of humor.

One of our fieldtrips this year was to pick up trash around the neighborhood and then enjoy root beer floats. On a beautiful, sunny day, we put on gloves, grabbed trash bags, and headed for a nearby park. They were eager to help, which was a pleasant surprise. I think they felt very accomplished. They seemed to appreciate the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in their community.

While we were there, we also saw a pond full of interesting wildlife. I caught a frog for the students, which they excitedly passed around. They enjoyed peering into the pond, excited to tell me what they spotted — "Ms. Hanscom, look at this bug! It looks like it has oars for legs!" I really enjoy nature, and it was such a big part of my growing up. I loved seeing them so engaged and happy, full of curiosity and discovery. They were able to be kids! Knowing their backgrounds, I don't think many of them have had many opportunities to simply enjoy and explore nature. It was wonderful to see them enjoying this.

Until my experience of student-teaching in a low income, urban school, I had never really pictured myself teaching in that type of environment. But I really enjoyed it and hope to, at some point in my career, teach in that type of school. It is extremely challenging, but also very rewarding and fulfilling. My time and energy feels well spent and meaningful in that type of school.

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Patrick Compton

Patrick Compton shares why he chose to study at SPU and the School of Education.