The Hart Career Center provides a range of services to help prepare for one’s professional life following graduation. The center provides assistance with writing resumes, cover letters, securing and storing letters of recommendation, on-line application processes, and seeking employment. The Educational Studies Department, in coordination with the Career Center, hosts a special session on the job search process each year. Job fairs and mock interviews with area school administrators are available for teacher candidates during the senior year. Students who are willing to be flexible where they teach can find jobs within the first year of graduation. In many years, the job placement rate is 100%.
Educational Studies Alum
Eli Ayala, '18, Golder College Prep, Teacher
I currently teach 9th grade English 1. My class is focused on building students' writing skills and stamina. We focus on the four main types of writing, as well as helping students master tricky grammar rules.
Being an education major at Illinois Wesleyan has pushed me to question many common practices and decisions that I have to make as a teacher. I am better able to view my students holistically, and I always try my best to be as socially just as possible. This means constantly reevaluating how I'm doing things and continuing to learn about best practices.
My advice to current students at IWU is to try to make your student-teaching space your own. You should show up everyday as if that is your school, not a space you're borrowing for a semester. This is the time to learn what your teaching style is. You can't do so by allowing yourself to hide in the shadows.
My favorite memories from IWU always stem from my time in Gulick my freshman year. Living in Gulick gave my friend group a shared experience that we can always look back on as something we survived given all the antics that happened there.
Amber Belch, '18, Euclid Elementary School, 3rd Grade Teacher
I work with third grade students in the general education setting.
My experience at IWU greatly impacted my teaching career. In fact, to this day, it still does. Constantly, I am reflecting on my work to ensure that I am using best practices, meeting my students' needs, engaging their minds, inspiring lifelong learners, instilling the love of reading, and being equitable. Without IWU, I wouldn't have the knowledge or capacity to teach in the manner I do.
Something that I loved about IWU and will forever be grateful for is the opportunities it provided. Because of IWU, I was able to teach in classrooms from kindergarten through twelfth grade, intern in Mexico, mentor at an alternative school, and work with Chicago Public Summer School students--all before graduating! So, my advice would be to take every opportunity IWU gives you. It's definitely worth it!
My favorite memory as a student from IWU was probably my last educational studies class. It was so neat to sit with my cohort, have snacks, and reflect on how far we had all come. It was a beautiful bittersweet day. That's a memory I will cherish forever--as it was the end of an era.
Jim Carver, '09, Unity East Elementary, Principal
I taught 4th grade for five years and just completed my sixth year as principal at Unity East Elementary in Philo, IL. I have loved teaching and working at the elementary level and take great satisfaction in the work that the teachers and I do in developing and caring for our students.
My undergraduate studies prepared me with a solid and well-rounded academic base, which I will always appreciate. Most importantly, my studies at Wesleyan shaped my understanding of how I view the students, families, and community that my school and I serve. I credit my time at Wesleyan for helping me develop a deeper understanding of our society and the important role of educators in helping address inequality and societal problems.
My advice to current students is to invest yourself in your field placements and time spent in schools. Talk with your cooperating teachers and try to gather as much information as you can through conversation and observation. Every educator has experiences, stories, and examples to share. Many of my greatest take-aways from the program were from teachers in the field, coupled with discussions with my classmates and professors about those experiences.
I have great memories of my fellow elementary ed classmates. We were a small group of about a dozen that did most of our classes together. Among students and professors alike, I appreciated the support and comraderey as we completed our undergrad studies together. Lots of laughs and good memories!
John Gelasi, '17, Johnsburg Junior High School, 6-8 Band and Choir Director
This was my 1st year in Johnsburg and my 3rd year of teaching overall. My duties include teaching 5th grade beginning band (which this year comprised a little over half of the entire 5th grade population!), 6-8th grade band, and 6-8th grade choir. Though mainly a band person, I have always loved both band and choir; not only am I lucky enough to get to teach both in my current position, but I’m grateful that I was able to continue participating in both while at IWU, even with the rigor of the education major path.
The pursuit of a music education degree, or any education degree, is a lot of hard work, but oh so worth it. My four years at IWU were spectacular in every way, and I really left feeling prepared for my new career path.
My advice to current students is to stick with it! Your dedication to your studies in pursuit of your degree will come through in insurmountable ways once you have a classroom and students of your very own.
My favorite memory as a student at IWU was student teaching.
Kate Morris '04, Plainfield East HS, Associate Principal, Curriculum and Instruction
As the Associate Principal of Curriculum and Instruction at Plainfield East HS,I currently run standardized testing in my building, complete teacher observations, work with new and changing curriculum, SAT prep programs, mentor programs, new teacher induction, instructional technology, etc. The rigor of being a double major in English and Secondary Education at Illinois Wesleyan prepared me to think differently and find solutions.The practical experiences helped prepare me for my own classroom.
Some advice that I would give current students would be to do as much field work with as many diverse populations as possible. Experiment with different tools, lessons and strategies. Talk to students and families.
One of my favorite memories at IWU was my senior seminar class and instructor. We still get together once a year in the summer, with our families. Dan Kuglich, former professor, current friend and mentor, taught me to “teach like your hair is on fire.” Now, I try to teach new teachers this same way- give it your all, do what it takes, in order to help students learn.
Kaitlyn O'Brien '19, Colegio Publico Ciudad de Nejapa, English Language Assistant
I currently work as an English Language Assistant at a primary bilingual school in Tres Cantos. I work with grades 1st-6th, often in small groups to facilitate activities that focus on vocabulary words and pronunciation practice. I also teach mindfulness and yoga across the grades, in English and Spanish. Although I was a secondary ed major, working with young students has been an incredible experience and I'm really glad I branched out.
My experience at Illinois Wesleyan impacted my career because at the time, I had older friends further along in their studies who served as mentors and friends. The reason I decided to teach abroad was because several students from the Hispanic Studies department were teaching abroad after they graduated and I was able to hear about their time in Spain. I always thought upon graduating I needed to immediately begin a full time job in the U.S., but they showed me it was okay to veer off on a different path.
My advice to current students is to find your passion and follow it. If you feel called to do something, listen to your intuition. It never leads you astray!
My favorite memory as a student at IWU is the internship opportunity I was provided with from the Ed Studies department to shadow and teach during May term at the JFK American School in Quertaro, Mexico. Already 4 years ago, it is one of my most favorite experiences. I am still in contact with the wonderful people I met while I was there and go back every year to visit. I am grateful IWU provided me with such unique experiences that have shaped who I am today.
Here is my personal blog if students would like to read about both in and out of classroom experiences! Also, here is the website that I created as a final project for the Spanish government, in case that is of interest for any students! It includes some of the lessons I did for the holidays.
Stephanie Prentice, '18, Circle Center Grade School, 3rd Grade Teacher
I have been teaching at Circle Center Grade School since I started teaching the fall after graduation!
Wesleyan helped me become a well-rounded teacher in many areas. The reading endorsement inspired me to pursue further education to get my master's for the reading specialist role. It also allowed me to experience many extra-curricular activities while in college, such as softball, which was a huge talking point in interviews.
My advice to current students is to use your professors to learn as much as possible. They are a wealth of knowledge and are willing to drop anything to help you at any time.
My favorite memory as a student at IWU was being a student-athlete. I made life-long memories and friends that will last forever. Our amazing education professors were so supportive of me playing a sport, which made it stress-free.
Jocelyn Vanderwiel, '17, Hunting Ridge Elementary School, 5th Grade Teacher
This will be my third year teaching 5th grade at Hunting Ridge and my fourth year teaching in District 15. I am also a grade level representative on a team within our PBIS program and other committees at my school.
I believe that the most beneficial part my undergraduate studies was the amount of classroom experience that we were provided. I learned so much during my clinical and student teaching experiences that I started my first semester freshman year. One of the most beneficial things I did was take pictures and notes of things that I liked/worked well that I saw my cooperating teachers do in the classroom. Additionally, the strong focus on social justice and restorative practices that we studied throughout our time at IWU have had an extremely positive impact on my teaching with the diverse student population that I have had the opportunity to work with.
My advice to current Ed Studies students is to take advantage of every learning opportunity outside of the classroom. The Educational Studies department offers many professional development opportunities for students and I made sure to take advantage of as many as I could during my time at IWU. I still use digital programs that were presented during various technology showcases, for example. Also, use your classmates as resources! Cultivate relationships with the people in your cohort, you will spend so much time with them and bouncing ideas off of one another can be so beneficial.
Some of my favorite memories as a student at IWU are the late night study and work sessions I had with my fellow elementary education majors, Morgan and Amy. Building relationships with the members of my cohort was so impactful for me and vital to my success as a student and an educator.
Matthew Wegh, '18, Urban Prep Englewood, Special Education Teacher
After graduating in 2018 with a double-major in English and Secondary Education, I got my first job teaching Junior English at Urban Prep's Englewood Campus. I enjoyed my time teaching World Literature and Composition III to my juniors, but last summer they cut the Comp. III class, and subsequently my position. I was asked to return with a Short Term Emergency certification for Special Education. I am now co-teaching 3 separate levels of English, and teaching my own Direct Instruction African American History course, while taking graduate classes to earn a full-time LBS1 endorsement. The knowledge I gained about culturally relevant teaching, teaching students with disabilities and structuring lesson plans has helped me prepare for what life as a high school teacher can be like. Obviously nothing can truly prepare a person for the Chicago Public School system, but my time at IWU gave me a strong foundation on which to build the real-world skills needed to be an effective educator.
The advice I would give to current education program students is to take advantage of every opportunity to explore and understand your mentors' styles of teaching so that you can develop your own. During undergrad, I personally was waiting on someone to tell me "This is how you teach." It won't happen. All your teachers can do for you is provide you with the tools to be successful; after that you need to take those tools and find your own voice. If you know your subject area and prepare your lessons thoroughly you'll do just fine.
My favorite memory at IWU was getting to know my cohort. I started in the Ed Studies program a little later than most (because I had no idea how to sign up for classes), so up until my Junior year I was not with other students my age. Junior and Senior years, the seven of us Secondary Education majors became a tight group that still keeps up with each other. We had a Zoom gathering this spring that lasted a good couple hours longer than expected.