The School of Education and Human Services at the University of Michigan-Flint congratulates its December 2016 Maize and Blue Distinguished Scholar Award winners, recipients of the highest academic award given to UM-Flint graduates. All three are graduating from the Elementary Education Program.
Melissa Sanborn always knew she wanted to be a teacher. After graduating from Flushing High School, she attended Mott Community College for two years and worked part-time at a day care to pay for college expenses on her own. Excelling at Mott helped her win a two-year full transfer scholarship from UM-Flint.
Now with her elementary education bachelor's degree from UM-Flint, she wants to substitute teach in the Big Rapids area before returning to the Flint area where she hopes to settle into a future permanent teaching position.
UM-Flint's Elementary Education Program was everything she had hoped for, and she thanks her professors for taking time out to explain things further, to meet with her as needed, and to offer an unexpected level of support. "I love the program," she said. "I was so surprised at how much my professors truly cared about us and loved us, and how engaging and fun my education courses were. The professors really do care and want to fight for our success."
Her instructors encouraged students to learn from one another and to collaborate in groups. She learned to approach mathematics in deeper ways, outside of memorization, that helped her to really understand and remember the problem-solving process. Learning came from working together with her classmates and thinking in creative and collaborative ways.
Melissa anticipates getting her master's degree and furthering her education at UM-Flint because of the positive and well-rounded experiences she has had here. She feels confident and prepared for success in teaching. "I feel that this program has set me up to be the best I can be," she said.
Starting out at UM-Flint as a biology major, Taylor Yuhanna began working at a day care center during college and decided to switch to a major in elementary education after two years. "It was a huge leap of faith but I'm so glad I pursued it," she said. "I can't see myself doing anything else."
A graduate of Grand Blanc High School and now with her bachelor's degree in elementary education, Taylor hopes to work in upper elementary grade levels. As a student at UM-Flint, she enjoyed meeting with other student teachers on a weekly basis to share experiences teaching and managing a classroom.
She has high regard for her UM-Flint education instructors and appreciated their willingness to communicate with students outside of class to help them learn and grow through the program.
"They were so encouraging and they build you up instead of tear you down," Taylor said. "They tell you what your strengths are and they have a way of helping you with your struggles in a constructive way. I'm a perfectionist but I've learned that it's okay to fail and to reflect as long as you learned from your mistakes because they don't define you."
Her student teaching experience in Grand Blanc provided a lot of great insight to prepare her to enter the field ready to energize her students and make a difference in their lives. One of the most valuable things she learned was how to facilitate classroom unity by honoring differences among all of the children, and how that management tool can translate to increased overall student achievement.
With her elementary education degree from UM-Flint, Grand Blanc High School graduate Alexandra Mansour already has a job lined up in a Title I classroom at Patterson Elementary in Holly, Michigan, the site where she completed her student teaching. She will be working with students to improve their literacy skills and reading comprehension.
"I take the job so seriously and I care so much that I want to see my students succeed and in turn to continue to drive me to be better each and every day," she said.
That motivational desire to make an impact reflects her own experiences as a student in the UM-Flint Elementary Education Program and the support from the faculty and staff. "The whole way through the program, they are rooting for you," she said. "It's so encouraging. They are just genuinely inspiring."
Alexandra especially appreciated the opportunities to work with kids in the classroom. "Being in the classroom throughout the program has put a lot of things into perspective and gave us the signal to see whether or not we should be teachers," she said.
The oldest of five girls in her family and a former ski instructor and tutor, Alexandra feels inspired to help students to be the best they can be. "To instill that drive in students at a young age is really beneficial," she said. "Without the intrinsic motivation, you won't get as far. It's my job as an educator to help students want to learn and grow."
- Center for Educator Preparation
- School of Education & Human Services