Lillie Brown '13, a sophomore in Elementary Education at Samford University, returned to Randolph in January 2015 to shadow Laura Bernick's Kindergarten classroom for college course credit and hands-on experience. The Alumni Office caught up with Lillie on her last day to learn more about her return to the Raider Nation as a student and a teacher.
When selecting a major, I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to do. So I thought about what I enjoyed most. Growing up, I had a lot of experience with children, doing cheerleading and dance. I have always liked working with kids, so I ultimately chose elementary education.
As part of our studies, we are required complete an observational clinical, so I decided to come back home to Randolph for my “Jan Term” experience. At Samford, during the month of January, students can choose to study abroad, stay home, return to campus to take one class during a mini-mester, or participate in an internship for one credit hour. Since I knew I had to complete a clinical at some point anyway, I decided to do it now, during the school year.
I contacted Mrs. Shaw, who was my Kindergarten teacher when I was at Randolph. She put me in contact with Mr. Beckman, who placed me with Mrs. Bernick. I have really enjoyed my time with her and I greatly appreciate her for allowing me to be here.
It has been a wonderful experience to actually be with the kids in the classroom. While taking classes is great, you don’t get to use what you have learned, so this hands-on experience has been invaluable.
In our college courses, we have opportunities to teach each other, but it is very different teaching my peers versus teaching a room full of five-year-olds.
I have had the opportunity to assist Mrs. Bernick, help the kids with phonics, check their papers, prepare lessons for the day, and work with some of the kids one-on-one. I have also been into the art room and the ‘Imagination Station’ lab to work on special projects with the students. Today, I am going to teach a lesson on my own. I am excited to see what it is like doing it all by myself.
I have enjoyed learning new ways of teaching, including Randolph’s ‘Imagination Station,’ which is a design lab for students; as well as NeuroNet, which are programs centered around helping children improve their coordination of motor and cognitive skills. It is cool to see the kids get excited about learning while using these tools. It is also great to watch them connect the dots and grasp a concept.
What I love about Kindergarten is how excited the kids are to come to school every day and learn something new. They have great energy and it is rewarding to watch them grow in their learning. I will say though, it has been challenging at times. I am beyond tired at the end of the day. Also, because they are so funny and cute, sometimes it is hard to find the balance between playing with them and disciplining them. They are so funny to me and they make me laugh. Some of the things they say are just hilarious!
I appreciate Randolph for continuing to play a role in my educational journey. The School has shaped me into the person I am today. Randolph not only prepared me well for the academic challenges I face in college, but so much more. Randolph taught me time management, leadership, responsibility, and commitment. Randolph prepared me not only for college but real life situations as well. I would not be where I am today if Randolph had not pushed me, encouraged me, and taught me to chase after my goals to the best of my ability.
A special thanks to Mrs. Bernick for allowing me the opportunity to shadow her these last three weeks. In this short time, I feel like I have learned more than I have in my two years so far in college.
Mrs. Bernick was not only what I saw as a wonderful teacher, but a leader in the classroom and a role model to the kids. She is very patient and calm with them. When the kids walked in the room each morning she was quick to give them a sweet “Good morning!” and ask how they were doing. The classroom environment she created along with the projects showed me what it is really like to be a teacher. I was so fortunate to shadow her because she let me do things one-on-one with the kids and let me do hands-on things with them rather than just standing and watching. I learned so much from this experience being in her classroom. I also noticed that she really and truest loves what she does. She proved to me that teaching is very rewarding and reassured me that I want to be a teacher.