Faces of Silver Lake

Adult Students

Amy Christiansen, Teacher Licensure Student

Neither of Amy’s parents went to college, and they were determined to see their kids go. Before she came to Silver Lake College, Amy had taken classes at four other colleges. With her husband’s military deployment and a young son to care for, her education had started and stopped. “My parents worried about my break,” Amy shared. They want me to have a job that I love, and not have it so hard.”

A move back home to Wisconsin finally gave Amy the opportunity she needed. The decision to choose Silver Lake College was an easy one – several friends and family members are alums, and all of them recommended SLC without hesitation. Advisor Valerie Grissom teamed up with Teacher Education faculty to build Amy a customized, career-directed program that maximized on the credits she had earned at prior institutions, allowing her to finish with the least amount of time and expense, while still accommodating her busy family life. Amy had previous coursework in Psychology, so she settled easily into a Psychology major, with an Education emphasis. The two have tied together really well. “Behavior is such a big thing, particularly positive reinforcement,” Amy says.

Being a “non-traditional” student has been a great experience for Amy. “I loved the night classes,” she shares. “There were students of all different backgrounds, but it was like we already knew each other. We got very close in eight weeks.” The accessibility of the faculty was a pleasant surprise for Amy.  “Professors are always available to work with you,” she says. Another important facet for Amy was the integrated Liberal Arts component, with Franciscan Values and Servant Leadership woven into the curriculum. Amy credits this with giving her a “well-rounded background with foundational skills.”

The integration of Education coursework into her Psychology major has been a big advantage for Amy. She was able to include in her program an internship, as well as targeted classroom observation experiences at local public schools. She watched fifth grade teachers from across the Manitowoc public school district collaborate on best practices, assessments, and lesson planning to meet the new Federal Common Core Standards. “I had no idea how much districts collaborated,” Amy shared. Near the end of Amy’s bachelor’s program, a review of her coursework revealed that she was one credit short for graduation. Professor Grissom immediately teamed up with Career Resources Director Jan Algozine and Education Chair Sister Kay Klackner and arranged Amy’s internship with a second grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Manitowoc. “I’m so glad it happened!” says Amy. “I taught my first lesson there.” The hands-on experience also met the requirements for one of her two required clinic experiences. Amy finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in fall 2012, and started her teacher licensure program right away in the spring.

Amy’s family now lives in northeastern Illinois, where her husband works as a recruiter. The flexible scheduling in her licensure program has allowed her to move down with her husband while continuing with evening and weekend classes. She is slated to finish her coursework and begin student teaching in fall 2014. Amy hopes to teach third or fourth graders when she completes her licensure program. “They are a little more independent, but still really interested in learning,” she says. “They’re so optimistic! They really want to be involved.”