We met at Starbucks on a chilly day in October and each ordered a tea to keep warm. While the coffee grinders whirred in the background we discussed her experience being a student teacher in the Kirkwood school district during the transfer of students from unaccredited districts. “It’s been really tough. There’s been some crying.”
The day we met had been a particularly rough day for her. She is teaching full days with 21 first graders and with the new transfers, it was difficult. One student in particular was a challenge. His parents had not sent him to school before, so this was his first time in a structured learning environment and there were some behavior issues. Because this is Corinne’s first time teaching in a classroom, she hasn’t developed behavior management techniques, yet. The support of the lead teacher has really helped her learn how to manage the classroom and students who need more attention. “It’s been nice to have her supporting me and giving me all of these tips and suggestions.”
I was surprised to learn that there is no maximum number of students per classroom. With the transfer of students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens, Kirkwood class sizes have gone up. After having experienced all of this, Corinne says she’s realized how challenging this job is. But, despite these challenges, Corinne hasn’t changed her mind about teaching.
You have to be pretty dedicated to encounter some of the things Corinne has and still want to continue, so I asked her why she wanted to teach. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I’ve never really thought of doing anything else.” Well… there was the time she saw her teacher drink a Diet Coke, that MAY have sealed the deal, she remarked with a laugh.
Corinne just loves kids. She used to do quite a bit of babysitting because she enjoys how funny they are and she feels like she can really connect with them. “I guess I have an immature sense of humor!” For awhile she worked at a summer camp for children with cerebral palsy and found it inspiring.
Originally, Corinne was studying education at Murray State in Kentucky, but she was very unhappy. She transferred to Webster University, and has enjoyed being much closer to home. But… she’s heading to South Korea soon to teach English there. Before I could even tell her that South Korea is much farther than Kentucky, she told me, “I like the comfort zone but I guess I also like to get out of it when I can.”
As you may know if you have read my blog before, I am a BIG fan of traveling and could talk about it for hours. So, of course, as soon as Corinne mentioned her trip, I told her about a friend of mine from Ireland who I met in Austria who is now teaching in Malaysia. She nodded and told me that kind of story was the reason she wanted to live abroad for a year, so she can be a bigger part of the global community. “I would love to just have friends all over the world. My view of the world is so miniscule and I need to have those experiences to be a better person and teacher, just in general.”
What can we expect from Corinne when she returns? Even she’s not sure. “If I could just camp and backpack all the time that would just be the ideal thing.” The great thing about an education degree is the flexibility, and Corinne hopes to take advantage of that and potentially work at a national park as an educator.
Speaking of which, Corinne has done a fair amount of hiking and has several places she recommends: The Ozark Trail, Onondaga Cave State Park, Castlewood State Park, Cathedral Cave, and The Irish Wilderness. (PS, Missouri was named Best Trails State in 2013. Just sayin’.)
Before we left, I had to ask Corinne about her very distinct German last name. She told me it means ash woodcutter. How interesting! For me, it conjures up images of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. She had never thought of it that way before.
As we were taking the last sips of our tea and Starbucks was growing empty, I asked what her favorite thing is about St. Louis. “It’s a big town that feels like small town. Just that, everywhere you go you’re probably going to see someone you know.” True that, Corinne.
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