On Tuesday, February 4, the St. Mary’s University Education Students’ Association welcomed back five St. Mary’s graduates as part of a panel Question and Answer session for second year Bachelor of Education (Elementary) students.

ESA Alumni Panel

The discussion provided current St. Mary’s B.Ed students the opportunity to discuss a wide array of topics with colleagues who are putting their education to use in classrooms.

The five alumni, Mike Porter, Serenna Hughes, Kristin Ford, Courtney Urbani and Erin McQuitty, provided the some 25 students in attendance with first-hand accounts on the transition from student to teacher, skills they have learned along the way and many other topics that led quite an engaging conversation.

Erin McQuitty, who graduated from the St. Mary’s B.Ed program in 2018, is currently a substitute teacher with the Calgary Board of Education after working with the Board full time in her first year after graduation. She believes that the biggest thing she has learned in that time since graduating is that it is important to find the right fit and that being a substitute teacher isn’t the end of the world.

“Find the right fit was the biggest challenge I faced after graduation,” explained McQuitty. “I worked at a school where the environment wasn’t right for me and I chose to leave and I think that was the best decision I ever made for me and for the school, knowing that you can make a choice that is good for you is probably the biggest thing I’ve learned [thus far].”

“I’ve learned that subbing isn’t the end of your career, you will still get a job.”

Current St. Mary’s Bachelor of Education student Nick Hauk attended the Q&A hoping to see what graduates have done since leaving St. Mary’s.

ESA Alumni Panel

“I am trying to learn, as much as possible, what is ahead in the program,” said Hauk. “My biggest takeaway from this discussion was to keep in mind the things that I need to in order to capitalize on practicum and to network with current students and alumni.”

For McQuitty, the extensive practicum experiences and curriculum development learned while St. Mary’s set her up for success in running her own classroom and credits the emphasis placed on relationship building as having a huge impact on her as a new teacher.

As for some points of advice for current B.Ed students McQuitty says to not take anything too seriously but to take it seriously and emphasizes that a teacher’s curriculum has to fit for the students they are about to teach.

“Have some fun, stay true to you,” said McQuitty. “Getting to know your kids is the most important. Don’t over plan before you know them because your plans won’t work if they are not made for your kids in that classroom.”