A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or teacher certification from Columbia College can open doors.
And while it can be difficult to find a teaching position in some districts because of the recession, an MAT or teaching certificate will increase your chances of obtaining a position.
Here are two teachers who have found rewarding jobs through the Columbia College MAT program.
Jessie Starbuck. A December 2011 MAT graduate now teaching art in Southern Boone County R-1 School District (Ashland) Primary School. She was hired in 2011 after student teaching at Russell Elementary and Hickman High schools, Columbia, Mo.
Starbuck has an unusual background for a teacher: a Columbia native, Starbuck attended the Rhode Island School of Design after graduating from Hickman High School, spent a year in Chile and another in Baltimore as an urban arts coordinator with Americorps. She has exhibited her artwork in Columbia solo and alongside the photography of her father, Chris, who teaches at the University of Missouri.
“I love being around young people who are working, making art,” she said. “Instead of depleting me, I feel like it gives me more ideas. It makes me more excited.”
Jill Aholt, who graduated in 2009 with an MAT with an endorsement in special reading and now teaches third grade in Harrisburg, Mo.
“I enjoy going to work every day knowing that it will be nothing like the day before,” said Aholt. “Teaching kids is such a rewarding job! You never know what kind of influence you will have on a child.”
Aholt said that taking classes at Columbia College refreshed many things she had learned as an undergraduate. “I have also learned a great deal about teaching reading that has been extremely helpful with my third graders! One of the things I enjoyed most about working on my master’s is getting to know and network with other teachers. Talking with other teachers is one of the best ways to get new ideas.
“I chose Columbia College because they offered the reading endorsement that I wanted. The eight-week sessions of night classes worked out perfectly with my busy schedule.”
Linda Bradley, education instructor at Columbia College, says the education staff goes out of its way to ensure their students are placed.
“Last year, we had 47 student teachers,” she said, “of which five decided to opt out of teaching into other careers. Of the remaining 42, all but four got teaching jobs.” This is a better than 90 percent placement rate. “We feel really good about this, considering the economy and all!”
A major factor in the college’s placement rate is its partnerships with nearly every school in Mid-Missouri, allowing student teachers first-hand experience with school districts. Many of the area’s teachers are Columbia College graduates, too. “It used to be, a degree was what it took to climb the ladder,” Bradley said. “Some schools want more now. That’s where our partnership helps.”
Bradley also said the department urges students to work closely with the college’s Career Services Center to hone up on resumé writing and job interview skills.
Bradley advises MAT graduates to be flexible. “In today’s market, you can’t just sit and wait for the job to come to you,” she said. “You have to draw a perimeter around your town and then apply to all schools in that area, public and private. You have to be flexible and open-minded. Do the research. Get to know the school districts. And if you can’t find a teaching job, be a long-term sub or a paraprofessional, anything to open the door.”
Come see for yourself how Columbia College can help your dream of teaching come true. The open house will be held Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Cougar Room of Dulany Hall on the Columbia College campus in Columbia, Mo. You can park in any non-residential lot on campus.