News - Teacher Combines Undergraduate and Graduate Education to Land Reading Specialist Position

Teacher Combines Undergraduate and Graduate Education to Land Reading Specialist Position

Teacher Combines Undergraduate and Graduate Education to Land Reading Specialist Position

New teacher education graduates must wince when cash-strapped school districts like those in Sacramento and Las Vegas lay off proficient, even award-winning teachers. The layoffs flood the job seeker pool with experience and expertise that new teachers lack. Scott Humpherys knows their pain.

With no job in sight after his graduation in 2009 from Greenville College, Humpherys put his education degree to work as a substitute teacher. Though he gained valuable experience and expanded his professional network, he still hoped for something more predictable and permanent. Last spring, he found it.

Humpherys now serves as a full-time reading specialist at Jefferson Intermediate School in St. Charles, Missouri. It is a great fit for the young teacher who went on to earn a Master of Arts in Education from Greenville College, with an emphasis in reading. Jefferson serves all district 5th and 6th graders, about 750 students. Humpherys describes it as a suburban school with an urban feel. "We're very diverse, with many ethnicities and a range of socioeconomic classes."

Kate Cox, a teacher at Jefferson and classmate of Humpherys in the master's program, encouraged him to apply for the position. He interviewed in early March and received the job offer only three days later. The timing enabled him to finish the home stretch of his master's degree program knowing where he would be teaching in the fall. "What a blessing," he adds.

Gratitude seems to flow easily from Humpherys. He is quick to credit his undergraduate and graduate training in education as key to winning the position. "I found it a little intimidating, knowing there were so many other folks applying for the job," he said. "Yet, I feel that Greenville College set me apart. The preparation it gives compares to none."   

That preparation, for Humpherys, began with Education 101 in his freshman year when he delivered his first lesson ever to young students. "I called home and said, 'I'm so glad that I can experience this my freshman year and not wait until I'm a junior before I get into a classroom!'"

Humpherys estimated that by the time he began student teaching in his senior year, he had acquired more than 250 hours of observation and field experiences in live classroom settings. The exposure ultimately contributed to his confidence and a sense of professionalism that few college students know until they engage in internships late in their college careers.

Humpherys also credits his college professors as helping him succeed. "I know that I can contact Dr. Ken Schmidt or Dr. Nancy Johnson for any reason." During Humpherys' first month of teaching at Jefferson, Johnson helped expedite the transfer of his Illinois certification to Missouri by hand delivering it to the regional office of education. "She's even helped me find appropriate books for my struggling readers," he adds. "She's such a blessing."

Working daily in an environment of cultural diversity, Humpherys has come to appreciate the distinct liberal arts emphasis of his Greenville College education. "I am well-rounded. When you're teaching kiddos, you need to know a little bit about everything. Some of my favorite classes [in college] were Wisdom and Poetic Literature with Ruth Huston, and 20th Century African American History with Teresa Holden."  

In a day when media reports of disheartening school board decisions shout "impossible" to young teachers, stories like Humpherys' offer hope. The new reading specialist at Jefferson Intermediate School reminds us that love of learning endures, friendly encouragement to "go ahead, apply" still matters, and relationships forged with professors in college don't end at graduation. "Such blessings," Humpherys might say. Blessings indeed.

This story was published on October 02, 2012

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