Recent SSU Class of 2020 graduates, like Early Childhood Education major Jordan Hileman, began using their new career skills long before earning their degrees as a result of COVID-19.
“I was in the middle of my student teaching when the schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Hileman said. “We quickly began to prepare packets for students to take home so they could continue their education.”
While it wasn’t the student teaching experience she had envisioned, Hileman said being a part of managing the COVID-19 response taught her lessons she’ll never forget.
“Adaptability. That’s the word that comes to mind,” she said. “We’ve all had to adapt to new ways of doing just about everything. Things were changing so quickly that we kept having to adjust our plans. That’s a pretty good lesson for a new teacher.”
Another lesson Hileman said she learned quickly was the influence teachers have on how young students are able to adapt.
“That last day at the elementary school was pretty rushed as we were trying to load up as much as we could to help students at home,” she said. “We were distributing books, activity sheets and supplies, while trying to answer student and parent questions. Change and the unknown can be scary for kids. I knew that they needed me to be positive. The impact of that will stay with me.”
So will the feeling she got by helping students outside of the classroom.
“I really missed interacting with the kindergarten students I was getting to know during my student teaching,” she said. “I began reading stories on Facebook to help parents and keep a connection. I even began reading to a young family member on FaceTime to help out.”
Just a few short weeks after graduating from Shawnee State University, Hileman is happy to report she is employed. She is a new teacher at the SSU Children’s Learning Center in Portsmouth. The job search, like her final year of college, was a new experience.
“I interviewed for several positions through Skype sessions,” she said. “That was different. Again, it required all of us to adapt to a new way of connecting.”