Alumna Mindy Khamvongsa’16, MA’17 reflects on her internship at Stratford Academy and its lasting impact on her teaching career.
Teachers need to foster an environment where students feel safe, celebrated, and respected.
— Mindy Khamvongsa ’16, MA’17
When Fairfield alumna Mindy Khamvongsa’16, MA’17 started her teaching internship at Stratford Academy: Johnson House, she didn’t realize how significant her experience would be.
She first heard about the internship for non-certified teachers from her professor, Ryan Colwell, PhD, assistant professor of childhood education. As a fifth-year student pursing her master’s in elementary education, she thought participating in the Fairfield’s Teaching Internship Program would be a perfect opportunity to gain valuable skills in the classroom.
“Professor Colwell spoke very highly of the internship program and emphasized that the internship is an amazing and eye-opening opportunity for graduate students to fully understand teaching as a potential profession,” Khamvongsa said. Through the program, she was also compensated $15,000 towards her tuition from the school district.
Khamvongsa was assigned to work in a fifth grade classroom and quickly found herself joining committees, substitute teaching in classes at all grade levels, working late to help teachers prepare for the following day’s lesson plans, and embracing the school community. She joined the Positive Behavioral Intervention System Committee, became involved in the school’s theater club to help students learn their lines, and participated in the college preparation committee where she introduced students to the idea of going to college. Khamvongsa found that the classroom teachers were immensely supportive and had a lasting impact on her, even now as a second grade teacher at Savin Rock Elementary School in West Haven, Connecticut. A significant lesson she learned on the job was knowing when to ask for help and to celebrate the positive.
“I was always a perfectionist growing up and strove for A+ work,” Khamvongsa said. “But you can’t be a perfectionist while going to school and working an internship at the same time. You need to take things one day at a time and learn as you go. The teachers who mentored me during my internship were incredibly supportive, and the lessons I learned along the way really shaped me as a teacher.”
The Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions' Teaching Internship Program is offered to both non-certified teachers and certified teachers, who may be novice teachers or considering re-entry into the profession to gain a year’s experience in a public school setting while pursuing a master’s degree or sixth year certificate. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.