Exposure – 4/5/2020 – TRANSCRIPT for Aspiring Educators of MSU

Connie Rahbany

Interview Transcript

Connie Rahbany:  Hello and welcome to Exposure. I’m your host, Connie Rahbany, and I’m excited to be interviewing with the Aspiring Educators of Michigan State. Thank you for joining me.

Chloe VanSickle: Thanks for having us.

Connie Rahbany: So could you introduce yourselves and tell me a little bit about you.

Chloe VanSickle: Um, so my name is Chloe VanSickle and I am a junior at Michigan State. And I also serve as the vice president of the Aspiring Educators of Michigan State. And, um, so then my job is just planning our Outreach to Teach event every year. And working with our other e-board members.

Brittany Perreault:  My name is Brittney Perrault and I am also a junior at Michigan State. I’m a special education major. Um, I serve as the president of AEMS, which is probably my favorite thing in the whole world. We do so many great things and I love getting to work with such dedicated students.

Abby Holzman:  I’m Abby Holzman. I’m a sophomore studying math education. I’m our community service coordinator. So I plan out all of our community service events, which is something that’s really important to us. Yeah.

Haley Hinzmann:  I’m Haley Hinzmann. I’m a junior studying IDS, social science education. Um, I am the recruitment director this year for AEMS. Um, so basically my job is to find other aspiring educators out there and help basically like with retention and everything and keeping things fun and light and planning social events for us.

Connie Rahbany: Perfect. So what can you tell me about Aspiring Educators of Michigan State? What is it?

Brittany Perreault: So AEMS is a preprofessional organization for aspiring educators. So basically anybody who wants to work in a school, whether that be a teacher, a school counselor, a nurse, a psychologist, anything like that, our organization is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association and the National Education Association. So basically we’re the student program and we do a lot of professional development. We do social events, um, anything to get our members engaged and ready to join the  teaching profession. Um, we do a lot of community outreach. Like Abby and Chloe have both touched on our biggest project being Outreach to Teach in the spring, which Chloe can talk about a little bit later. Um, but we do a lot of things just to help prepare our members to join the profession because we all know that your teacher preparation courses can only give you so much information about what you should do to teach and not how to really band together as a group.

Connie Rahbany:  So, is that the goal of the organization is to better prepare aspiring educators?

Chloe VanSickle: Yeah, I would say that one of the main goals is to make the transition from college classes to the classroom easier. And we provide a variety of professional development tools as well as just getting to know other people going into the field just so you feel more comfortable. And then we can like talk about the things that we’re experiencing in our classes because we’re all going through it together. And a lot of times in our classes, we don’t have the space to share what we’re thinking or what’s going on so we can bounce ideas off of each other. And this organization has been a really great place to do that.

Connie Rahbany:  So you talked about professional development. What kinds of things do you do to provide that.

Brittany Perreault:  In the past we’ve had, um, like the Michigan Teacher of the Year come and to speak to our members. We’ve done an active shooter training; so training you how to be prepared, for instance, like that in your school or in your classroom. We’ve done various opportunities to learn how to incorporate art in your classroom. We’ve done a self defense class this year. All those things that you don’t get in your teacher prep program. All those random little tidbits and things like that. We did trauma training this year, for say, how to better support your students, anything like that. That can be a great value.

Abby Holzman:  Also, because we’re an affiliate with the MEA, we get things through them so they can provide us with the CPR training and certifications and any of their meetings, most of the time they invite us to sit down with them and that’s a great way to learn resources and learn more about your profession.

Brittany Perreault: We were very lucky to, we have a really great connection with our state union, and they have provided us with so many opportunities and so many programs. We had the director of public affairs come in from MEA and speak to us on the importance of being politically active in the classroom and, um, how to be knowledgeable about politics and things like that. So, um, like Abby said, MEA has been a great resource for us and they offer us a lot of benefits.

Connie Rahbany: How else does being part of this organization benefit future educators?

Chloe VanSickle:  Our other main focus is community outreach and by being a teacher, something that you learn very fast is the, like you’re involved in the community and it’s really important to make sure you’re building relationships. We focus on that with our members. And something that we do is our big Outreach to Teach project and this is where we select a school within the Lansing community, and then we work with them to see what are some areas where we could possibly do a project. In the past, we’ve worked with Gardner International Magnet School and we painted them a mural as well as cleaning and decorating the staff lounges and the libraries. So it’s just basically getting out in the community to see where we can make a difference, because one day we’re going to be in our own classroom and hopefully a group like us will be able to come out and reach out and work with us. So it’s just about getting them involved and understanding that it’s more than just you and building relationships.

Connie Rahbany: So you touched on it briefly about what opportunities you are given with your involvement. Are there other opportunities that you’d like to speak on?

Brittany Perreault: So we do a lot of events where like social events and I know, Haley can touch on this after, but yeah. Um, we do a lot of social events where members can. You know, come to a meeting after a really long day and have some fun, play some games, do trivia, have craft nights, anything to get your mind off of your stressful courses and really build those relationships. Like Chloe has said, you know, relationships are everywhere. Whether that’s already in your like your teacher prep program, um, in schools in your community or with other local leaders. It’s just so important that you have those relationships that you have a community that you can surround yourself with to help you get through those tough.

Haley Hinzmann: Yeah. Um, I’m just gonna add that no one like knows what teachers are going through really other than other teachers. So it’s really nice to sort of build those relationships early. Like, I know a lot of our social events are focused on like, fun things and getting to know each other to help promote that strong bond that we have. Earlier this year we did a, um, spill the tea on, um classes and different professors and so we talked about like, which classes are best to take, which ones we really liked so that helped prepare like our members for coming years sort of settle some anxieties about schedule planning. Um, yeah, like Brittany said, we’ve done trivia nights. We do trips out to the cider mill. Um, so not all the time related to education, but just trying to promote like fun connections with our members.

Chloe VanSickle: Yeah. And also our advisor is one of the, um, advisors for the college of education. And she will come to a lot of our events and when she’s there, she’s more than happy to, if you have a quick question, just being able to talk to her. And when we did have that scheduling event, she was there and it was able to bounce some ideas off of each other and she was, able to be like, maybe you should take this instead. And so by having that good relationship with her, we have like really good connections with MSU’s college of education. So a lot of our members can feel comfortable scheduling their classes, going into their internships and placements, because we have that relationship.

Connie Rahbany: And I’m going to backtrack a little bit and ask what got you into education?

Brittany Perreault:  Oh my gosh. I feel like I say this every time, but when you ask any aspiring educator, the most typical response that you get is that I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. When I was four years old, I was playing classroom in my bedroom with my dolls. I lined them up and taught them how to add two plus two. Like, that is the most typical response you get from any aspiring educator. And honestly, I think for myself, that’s really true. I always wanted to be a teacher. I love working with kids. Um, especially kids with disabilities. That was always my passion, but most everybody will give you the same story.

Abby Holzman:  So I actually didn’t want to be a teacher my entire life. I didn’t really know what I wanted to be, but, um, like as I got closer to college, I kind of realized I like helping people. And that teaching is very hard and not a lot of people are good at it and a lot of people are afraid of it. And it was something that I necessarily wasn’t afraid of and thought I’d be really good at. And I think if you think that you could be good at teaching, you should be good, or you should go into it because it’s not easy and there’s definitely a shortage of it. So that’s kind of why I did it. I want to do it.

Haley Hinzmann:  So my story is kind of a mix of Brittany and Abby’s. So I knew when I was little, I wanted to be a teacher. Both of my parents are educators and a lot of like, my aunts and uncles are too. So I grew up in that environment a lot, and I was like, yeah, this is what I want to do. Um, but throughout like middle school and high school the teachers that I had would always say, Oh, why do you want to do that? The benefits are going downhill and you don’t get paid, like, do something else and blah, blah, blah. So it sort of deterred me away from it a bit, which I feel like happens with a lot of people who want to go into education and like tested out in high school and just people talk down on it too much. Um, but then I came to college and I started taking other classes and I realized that this is something that I really wanted to do and deep down I knew I was meant to do. So eventually I came back to education and then finally with this club, when I found it, I knew that it was the right place for me because when I came and I was around other educators I realized like these were my people. Um, and that it was really inspiring to see other people that cared about education as much as I did.

Chloe VanSickle:  Yeah. And for me, like just going through school, like my teachers were some of my biggest role models and they were my best friends from time to time and just knowing the impact that they had on my life and  like wanting to have that meaning in my own life is what kind of drew me to education. And then it, just getting to kind of like teach others about something that I’m super passionate about and then helping them succeed is just something that I look forward to.

Connie Rahbany:  So you talked about how you came to be an aspiring educator when you guys do internships or any work experience that you’ve had with education, has this organization benefited that in any way?

Chloe VanSickle: Yeah, so we had a professional development seminar about special education in the classroom. And because I am a secondary education major, if I don’t ever take a special education course, by having that professional development, I was able to learn more about what I need to do in my classroom because even though I’m not a special education teacher, I’m still going to have students that have very diverse needs. And so it was that professional development that helped me like realize that, okay, even if I’m not getting this in my coursework, I still need to look towards outside resources. Um, we’ve had a variety of other times with other professional developments too, but it’s just being aware that you need to go beyond the coursework and this club has really helped me do that.

Brittany Perreault:  Trauma training was definitely one of the more beneficial professional developments that we’ve had. Of course, they’re all great but that one was really important because they clearly said, we’re not necessarily trained or you know, taught how to handle students that have certain types of trauma and that was one of those more eye-opening experiences where you actually learn, I could potentially have so many students in my classroom that had been through all these experiences. Now what do I do?  How do I help them? That’s your biggest concern and this organization educated another 30 people on how to help students with trauma. So it’s so beneficial, you know, just to learn more about things that your students are going to deal with and how you can help them.

Connie Rahbany:  Okay, so you guys touched on it, helping you guys in a more professional manner. Has this benefited you personally?

Abby Holzman: Yes. Uh, for instance, this past school year, Brittany, Chloe and I all live together, so like I’ve gained many great friends through this club and organization, which  me and Chloe, we started in the same class freshman year together, but I met Brittany through AEMS and the rest of our e-board. We’re very close along with many of our other members. We talk on a consistent basis outside of the club.

Chloe VanSickle: Yeah. And this club definitely helped make my transition from high school to college a lot easier just because I didn’t really know anybody and I just stumbled upon this club at Sparticipation and then I decided to go to the first meeting and then that’s where I met Brittany and we’ve been friends ever since. So it’s just the little things and it’s just, it truly has changed my life.

Brittany Perreault:  So my freshman year I came across this club and decided to show up at a meeting. I didn’t really have any friends on campus. I was new and I didn’t know what to do. So I showed up to a meeting and I was scared to death. I didn’t know like if I should keep going or whatever and then all of a sudden I felt at home, I met the most incredible people who are now actually teachers. And it’s just so exciting to see how well they’ve progressed. And I know where I’m going, but I honestly can say without this organization, I would not be as confident as an educator, as an aspiring educator really. Um, I would not be so excited about my future career. And really as the years have gone on, our executive boards have, we’ve all been real, super close friends. Um, like, you know, Abby said the three of us live together. Um, Haley and I are super close. I mean, the relationships you build are just so important, and that’s what our club’s really all about.

Haley Hinzmann:  I gained a ton more friends through this club, and I also gained a lot of role models as well. Like, I look up to each and every one of these girls that we have just as much as I would like a full time teacher that’s been teaching for 20 years. Um, I look at members that we’ve had in the past and I see them on social media that I follow and they’re all doing great things in the classroom and even our seniors this year are doing amazing things in their placements. So it’s really nice taking that perspective as well.

Connie Rahbany:  So it sounds like you guys discovered the organization either during your freshman year or close to, is that sort of the time you should be joining, or if someone came across this, let’s say, their junior year, would they still be able to benefit from this?

Abby Holzman: Yeah, the things we do. Aren’t geared towards freshmen. I think the reason why we get more freshmen are because freshmen are more eager to join a club and get to know people. Most of the people that join, I think we normally find through Sparticipation or colloquium or just through our classes. I know we’ve had a couple of members join where Chloe and I are like, Hey, you like come join our club and they’re just in our class. So. I think that’s why we get more freshmen, but the benefits are all the same no matter what year you are and what year you joined.

Chloe VanSickle:  They do have like a point system that you have to get every year. So that’s like during the semester you have to come to a certain amount of events, but really it’s, anybody can benefit from it because we’re all going into the profession and a lot of people, especially like juniors and seniors, where they’re starting to have placements and are in the classroom more, they can benefit more, but because they aren’t necessarily people that go to the Sparticipation or colloquium, they don’t always know who we are and they’re the ones that could probably benefit the most.

Connie Rahbany:  You’re listening to WDBM East Lansing. I’m Connie Rahbany, your host of Exposure. If you’re just tuning in, today, we’re talking to Aspiring Educators of MSU. So is there anything that your organization is doing right now that you’d like to share?

Haley Hinzmann:  So we are doing, um, a social media campaign this week. Every day we have a new theme that we’re going to post about but every day we either post about something or members send something into post about with a new hashtag, just talking about our club and why we’re going into it as a profession. Um I know today is Wednesday. So it was #WhyITeachWednesday so members were encouraged to send in things, about why they wanted to go into teaching as a profession. Um, we also had on Monday, it was #WhyIJoined, so why we joined the organization. Um, so we’re just trying to put out a lot more positive talk around teaching and education and the aspiring educators program sort of as a whole and just sort of get our name out there.

Chloe VanSickle: And we also do an Outreach to Teach project every year, but this year, because of everything that’s going on, we’ve had to make some changes to it. So we didn’t want to completely do nothing so instead of going to the school and completing projects, we are having members paint canvases that we will give to the teachers at the school as well as, um, we are donating baskets for each teacher that have a variety of school supplies or other cleaning things that normally they’d have to buy for themselves we’re just trying to help them that way.

Connie Rahbany:  Do you have anything that you have to look forward to in the future semesters at this time?

Chloe VanSickle: Um, I think at this point we’re all feeling, we’re just looking forward to being able to see each other in person again, cause it’s not the same to have zoom meetings or just to talk to each other through text. Um, because. We generally, we will have a meeting and then we’ll end up there two hours just talking to each other. So I think that’s something that we all miss and we look forward to being able to meet new people next year at Sparticipation and colloquium and get more people involved with our organization and then continue to plan events.

Brittany Perreault: Something that we’re all really looking forward to, especially next year would be, um, Outreach to Teach, especially because this year we had to cancel it. Um, not canceled, but kind of rework our project. But, you know. Every year we do Outreach to Teach and it is just the most exciting and important event of our whole year because our members come together, we support the community. It’s really a group effort and you know, Chloe put forth a great deal of effort this year and we’re really upset that it was canceled and we had to rework it. But, we’re so confident that we’re doing our best and that next year it’ll be just as great as we planned for it to be this year. So, um, that’s just something we look forward to every year.

Connie Rahbany:  Let’s say someone like me who’s not an aspiring educator, is there anything that like someone like me could do to help?

Chloe VanSickle: I would say you can always find us on social media and if you know somebody who’s interested in it or you know, different organizations that would want to participate, or like our Outreach to Teach is open to anyone within the community. You don’t have to be an educator. We get all our family and friends to participate every year. This year, if anyone wanted to donate school supplies, we’d be more than grateful. It’s definitely different than what it normally would be, but like next year we will be happy to have anyone participate with us.

Connie Rahbany: Now, I’m going to go in a kind of a different direction with this question. It might be kind of hard, you can take a minute to think about it, but if you were thinking back on your experiences you’ve had. And you were to describe it all in one word, what would that word be and why?

Chloe VanSickle: Um, I would say my word would be empowering, uh, just because. We’ve talked about this where there’s a lot of negative talk about like going into the field of education and it can, um, there’s just a lot of obstacles you need to get through. But by being a member of this organization, I’ve just found a renewed love for this and I’m super excited about it and I’m passionate and just being able to see that others are also passionate about it with me, and they’re able to pick me up when I might have a rough day in my placement and they show me that I am good enough for this and that it’s something that I should be doing and yeah.

Abby Holzman: My word was also going to be empowering because we think alike Chloe, but for me it’s just teachers do such important things and definitely do not get the recognition they deserve. And it’s really empowering to be around a bunch of people all the time that have the same goals and ambitions as you and can push you and keep you going when, you know, you just had a rough day in placement or whatever.

Haley Hinzmann: Um, my word would probably be inspired. Um, sort of the same as Chloe and Abby, like going in every day really renews my fire for teaching. Talking to all the different members in e-board, and, um, I knew that teaching was a right fit, like as soon as I stepped in and got to talk with everyone. And, I leave every meeting feeling confident and inspired in what I’m doing and, um, from the other members.

Brittany Perreault:  Well, I was also gonna say empowering, and then my second word was inspiring. So, um, my next word would probably be life changing. It’s two words, but we’re going to go with it. oh my gosh. From my first meeting as an aspiring educator of Michigan State, I was so excited because I wanted to meet new people and I wanted to do something kind of different and then I met this group of people, who then drove me to a different place of my life where I realized that advocating for education was my new passion along with teaching. And then they helped me find a new place to grow and I feel like my seed has just been planted in so many different places because of just the opportunities I’ve had. There’s not just one person who has gotten me to where I am in this program, but there’s been so many people and honestly, it’s changed my life from being a part of our local, the way our program works we have like a local chapter, we have a state program and a national program and the great thing about our local program is that it helps you get to the state and the national programs, um, really easily and it helps you get involved in so many different ways. So, Just being in this organization for three years and learning how you can move up and, you know, make a change on a different scale has been so important. It honestly has changed my life because I would not be in the same boat if I did not join this organization.

Connie Rahbany: If there are any students on campus who are unsure about all of this, or maybe they’re just uninformed at the moment, what would you say to them about this organization?

Brittany Perreault: Well, I think my first thing I’d say is, any organization that puts themself out there, they’re definitely worth taking a second look at because there are so many, student programs and clubs to get involved with on campus that, you know, if you’re, if they’re out there and you see their name everywhere, you should probably take a second look and make sure that they’re legit and that, you know, they’re really doing what they say they are. Um, then I’d say, okay, a group of teachers who just wants to make a change in the world, who just want to help students and the community, you should probably join anyway and take a risk, and I realize it’s the right fit for you, um, because you’re never going to know that it’s the right fit until you actually give it a try.

Chloe VanSickle:  I would just say like, it can seem intimidating when you walk into a club and there’s already, like everybody seems to know each other, but. I promise after like the second event, it’s going to feel like family. I know it did for me. Um, everybody’s just so welcoming and excited for you to be there and it’s not a lot of extra work. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like work because it’s something you want to participate in and you want to go to. And we offer so many events that it’s not hard to hit our point system. Um, and it definitely is very worth it.

Brittany Perreault: Yeah. Like what Chloe said, um, we’re such a big family. It doesn’t feel like another class to go to or anything like that. Really after the second event, you’re a member of the family. We know you know your name, we know what your major is, we know what you like. We put your favorite songs on a playlist and we play it throughout our meetings. It’s just such a family oriented environment that all we care about is each other.

Connie Rahbany: So how can someone who’s interested get involved?

Abby Holzman: You literally just have to reach out to one of us. That’s all it takes. You got to fill out a form with your information on it and show up, and that’s really it. It’s so simple.

Connie Rahbany: And how can they find one of you guys and fill out that form?

Haley Hinzmann:  So if you have questions and you were interested in joining, you can email us at [email protected] That’s our email account. It’s monitored all the time and feel free to ask us any questions you can find us on all of our social media you can ask those questions there. You can follow us. Um, just kind of join the ride.

Chloe VanSickle: Then all of the information is on our website AEMS.yolasite.com and it has links to the form you have to fill out all of the people who are on the executive board. Their email is there in case you have any questions, and then all our social media so you can follow us. Even if you don’t come to a meeting. Just see what we’re all about.

Abby Holzman:  Also, there’s no one on campus right now, but inside Erickson, we have a showcase with all of our information on it too.

Connie Rahbany:  I’m going to say thank you for speaking with me and being available to interview. This has been MSU’s Aspiring Educators.

Thank you. Thank you. Thanks.