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Rowe Scholar Claire Kielsa’s Passion for Teaching Began During Early Childhood

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First Look at Teaching
I was exposed to the education profession at a very young age, during the time when my mother was a preschool teacher. When I got older and became a competitive figure skater, I would stay after practice to help teach three-five year olds in Learn to Skate classes. It was this time teaching skating, in particular, that first got me really interested in working with young children. Beyond that, I had a great experience in 2018 while studying abroad in France, just spending time watching how my four-year-old host brother learned new things. And I think that’s what truly solidified my decision to go into teaching.

The Decision to Pursue Teaching
Although teaching was something I always considered, I didn’t make the final decision to pursue it as a career until my junior year of college, when I began actively exploring the possibility. It didn’t take long for me to discover I had a particular interest in focusing on early childhood education, which I believe centers around giving children the learning tools they will need for the rest of their lives. In the classroom, my biggest goal in working with students is to help them feel safe, supported, and understood, no matter what obstacles to learning they may face. My philosophy about education is that learning can’t happen when students don’t feel comfortable in their learning community.

Despite the pandemic, I don’t think the needs of students have fundamentally changed. Of course there’s a need for devices, accessible internet, and high quality virtual teaching, but regardless, students need a safe and welcoming learning community to go to every day, whether in person or virtual. The community, which we as teachers create, is especially important now, and will continue to be post pandemic. I think students need a community that gives them a sense of normalcy and peer and adult support, one that starts to reduce the stress caused by COVID.

My current student teaching placement is with two-year-olds at The Goddard School, and I love working with toddlers. I think studying at Fordham GSE has provided me with the support and encouragement to continue on my path to becoming a teacher, in addition to providing me with the foundational skills I need to succeed in the classroom.

 Thoughts on the Valerie Rowe Scholarship
Receiving the Valerie Rowe scholarship in particular has been a real honor, and has really encouraged me and reaffirmed my choice to go into the teaching profession. It’s encouraging to receive a scholarship and see all the work I’ve put in pay off; it’s provided me not only financial support, but a moral boost that was absolutely needed during these difficult times. My goal now is to complete the rest of my student teaching and coursework in time to graduate in August 2021.

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