Welcome Director of Educator Preparation, Laura Whitacre

Welcome Director of Educator Preparation, Laura Whitacre

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Laura Whitacre

Meet Laura Whitacre and hear about her plans for the School of Education and Human Development’s Educator Preparation Programs.

I really want to see more teacher candidates move into urban districts where there is a high need for great teachers. We need teachers who are going to commit to staying in those districts so they can make a long-term impact.

— Laura Whitacre

What made you interested in pursuing teaching as a career?

From the time I was young, I wanted to be a teacher, and my third grade teacher specifically influenced me to become an educator. I also love reading, so becoming a secondary English teacher was where I started right out of graduate school. I love sharing literature with youth and opening their minds to the possibilities of life outside of what they know.

Please share a little about your background and work prior to joining Fairfield.

I studied at Fairfield as an undergraduate and pursued English and politics. I received my master’s in literary theory from Boston College and started teaching in 2004 with the Diocese of Bridgeport. I received my master’s in Education from Fairfield in 2011 and continued teaching with the Diocese through 2013. I then left teaching and started working as an education consultant for DCF and then moved to The Justice Education Center, a non-profit based in West Hartford, where I worked with students mainly in New Haven and Bridgeport, starting as the coordinator of after-school programs for at-risk youth and finishing my time there as the Deputy Director of the organization.

What brought you back to Fairfield?

From my experience working in urban education with disengaged youth, I found that if students have teachers and administrators who care for them, those are the students who succeed. I realized that I can really help shape the future of teachers in Connecticut by teaching at a college, and from my experience at Fairfield as an undergraduate, I knew I could make an impact here.

What is your hope for future educators?

I really want to see more teacher candidates move into urban districts where there is a high need for great teachers. We need teachers who are going to commit to staying in those districts so they can make a long-term impact. In my role as director of educator preparation, I have the opportunity to work closely with our contacts in Bridgeport, New Haven, and Stamford, among other districts, and I encourage students to take positions in these and other underrepresented districts. I’ve been able to use a lot of the great connections I made in private, public, magnet, and charter schools in my previous role that have been really useful to place our students.

What are your goals in your role at Fairfield?

A long-term goal of mine is to grow Fairfield’s relationships with local high schools and to connect those students with our undergraduates and graduate students so they can see what a Fairfield education can do for them as we look at ways to grow our fifth-year program. I also want to offer more scholarship opportunities to students and to push the existing financial aid we have with certain districts. And lastly, I want to increase the diversity of our teacher preparation population.

What advice do you have for students who are looking to pursue teaching?

Teaching is not an easy profession, and it is not all about having summers off! To be a teacher is to be an educator, a mother, a father, and sometimes a counselor. We do so much more than just teach students reading, writing, and math. We all have that teacher we remember who made an impact on our lives, and everyone who strives to be a teacher should try to be that influence. Students who are pursuing teaching as a career should love children and young adults and should remember that their own mental health is important also. The first two years will be tough, but once you make it to your second summer, the true rewards of teaching will be evident and will propel you through your career.

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