Meet MAC Students
How is baking like teaching?
According to Sara Amstone, both require equal parts planning and improvisation. And both can become a passion.
While watching The Learning Channel’s “Cake Boss,” she thought to herself “I can do that,” and started baking decorative cakes, complete with all the high-end detail and creativity that have made culinary TV shows a success.
The “can do” attitude struck again, when Amstone discovered the joy in teaching while working as a substitute after her family moved to the Mountain State. It led her to enroll as a student in West Virginia University’s Master of Arts and Teaching Certification Program (MAC).
The mother of two has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Tech, and intended to work in the field of national security for a government agency. Now, she plans to teach or sub in an elementary school once she finishes her master’s degree.
Amstone still subs part-time while attending school. She still finds time for baking, too, creating what she calls “Celebration Cakes” by request,
“I’ve found that I can do anything I put my mind to,” she said. “For those who think. ‘I can’t do that,’ I urge you to tell yourself you can, and then just try. You’ll be amazed at what you can do!”
After graduating from the University of Louisville, Grant Jacobs taught music to pre-kindergarten students and loved it. He wanted a master’s degree, though—and job security, as he knows that arts programs don’t always survive school budget cuts.
The Huntington, W.Va. native shopped in-state schools, choosing WVU’s Master of Arts and Teaching Certification Program. After meeting with faculty and staff, he had a well-defined academic plan that suited his goals, compared to weeks of back-and-forth correspondence with other institutions.
Into his first semester as a graduate student, Grant has a full load of coursework., plus 50 hours of field experience at a Morgantown elementary school. The end result? A master’s degree, elementary education certification and a specialization in reading.
And whatever he ends up teaching, he already has a well-defined model for making it work. “It’s about meeting somebody quickly,” he said. “Processing what makes them tick, and using that to help them learn.”
Rachel Fluharty-Keown knew she always wanted to be a teacher, but hid it from herself.
With a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University, she initially managed public relations for a motocross company in Morgantown. Her conscience, however, kept telling her to teach.
WVU’s Master’s of Arts in Education and Teaching Certification program was the solution.
“The first time I stepped foot in a classroom to do my 50 hours of observation, I knew I had done the right thing,” she said.
Now, as a first grade teacher at William Penn Elementary, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she still uses the resources WVU professors gave her.
“Most of the reading in Jane Cardi’s class is on my nightstand or on my desk and I reference it daily,” she said. “Dr. Rinehart’s reading clinic might have been one of the hardest summers of my life, but I learned so much about how to teach reading. And thanks to Dr. Bolyard, I have a binder full of great ideas on how to have math conversations, use manipulatives, and have students show how to talk about what they know. Not a day goes by that I don’t use something I learned during my time in the MACprogram.”
Rachel said the best part of her day is helping students learn how to read. Sounds and letters become words, which form sentences, then paragraphs, then stories.
She still gets to use some of her journalism skills, too, as she runs the school’s student newspaper: The Panda Pause.
“It’s nice because I can write some of the articles as well,” she said. “It’s fun to see students become interested in writing and reporting at a young age.”