Skip to main content

Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Shannon Ahern posing for a photo.

Four Years, 600 Hours, One Teacher

UD’s teacher education program offers 600 hours of classroom experience, double the licensure requirements in Ohio, giving students distinct advantages as they move from student teaching to earning their place at the front of their own classroom.

Shannon Ahern completed observation and student teaching at four schools and is approaching graduation with a job at a special education school in Illinois — a school and student population she sought out as a result of her experience at UD. Thanks to her coursework and four years of hands-on experience, Ahern said she’s ready to apply what she’s learned.

“I think being placed in different schools attests to how UD puts you out into the field, helps you understand what you like the most and understand the profession in general,” she said.

In 2020, Ahern observed classrooms digitally. The next three years brought her four different opportunities to hone her skills, including at Archbishop Carroll High School where she was mentored by another UD grad, Ann Bertke ’92.

“Student teaching is a huge commitment,” said Novea McIntosh, UD teacher education associate professor and coordinator of the department’s adolescents to young adults program. “We want to make sure the pairing between our students and their placement schools and mentors is perfect because, at the end of the day, our students are going to impact the learning outcomes of the students in the classroom.”

That mentorship is a focus for the teacher education department when making placements.

“The skills Shannon came in with are a real testament to the teacher education program,” Bertke said. “I remember UD was putting undergraduate students in early when I was in school, even if it was just for observation, to help students get an idea if education is even what they want to do.”

And Ahern said she gained insights from all her placements, from specific virtual teaching skills to how to be more effective working with students who speak English as a second language.

“Equity is a big part of our curriculum,” McIntosh said. “We look to our partner schools’ on how to refine our curriculum based on what they’re telling us in addition to changing state mandates. The populations our partner schools serve reflect our society’s population, so how we give access to all learners, not just the traditional learners in our schools, is important.”

Ahern’s student teaching with Bertke at Carroll High School helped her realize that she especially enjoyed working in a faith-based setting with similar values to the Marianist charisms at UD. And through weekly reflections with Bertke, Ahern did more than pick up skills — she gained the in-class experience she needs to step into her first year of teaching confidently.

Ahern said her final destination is different from what she thought it would be, but it also was a part of the process she learned from day one at UD — to expand her knowledge to best serve her students and to identify where she could be the most effective.

“I still remember the first day. I didn’t know what an IEP (individual education plan) was. For my final research paper, I wrote about students with autism and music therapy intervention,” Ahern said. “Now I will get to put it into practice.”

Previous Post

To Research and Beyond

Undergraduate student research experiences at UD can include conducting research over the summer and completing an honors thesis. Katie Hoener did both, which led to something bigger — authoring a textbook chapter with her mentor, Li-Yin Liu.
Read More
Next Post

A Touch of Home

Alina Munoz ’01 and her family met Myron Achbach ’58 when he made a recruitment visit to her high school in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His kindness and sincere presentation convinced them to choose UD, and that was just the beginning.

Read More