Three strikes and you are in, could be the mantra for Denise Flint, Master of Arts in Education (MAE) student at Otterbein who plans to graduate next spring. Denise decided to return to school after a 25 year hiatus from teaching. She contacted three colleges searching for a program that could be customized to her needs but none could provide what she wanted – a field experience.
“Determined as I was, I continued my search, contacting Otterbein,” she says. “I was directed to the Graduate Office and received a positive welcome. After meeting with a graduate advisor, reviewing all of my options and being assured that a field experience could be made available, I applied for admission."
"Two months later I began my graduate education at Otterbein, attended my first class and began my two- day-a-week field experience in an amazing 1st grade classroom,” she adds.
Relationships have been central to Denise’s Otterbein experience and she cherishes the relationships she has built with faculty and colleagues.
“My fellow graduate students were friendly, welcoming and energetic about their education. I created some very strong bonds with fellow classmates, setting up study groups, meeting outside class time to work on assignments and celebrating accomplishments along our educational journey,” she says and adds, “I have gathered a wonderful cohort of teachers and have built lasting bonds and friendships with them.”
“The support of the faculty at Otterbein has been amazing as well. Each and every class I attend is well designed and incorporates many of the techniques that I learn about in class. The professors are always prepared and willing to work with me if I am having difficulty. They are able to accommodate unique circumstances and are always willing to work with students to make their educational experience successful.”
Relationships are great, but what about her career? Denise feels ready for the workforce because of her Otterbein experiences.
“Otterbein provided me with the skills I need to enter the workforce as a prepared quality classroom teacher. Otterbein has given me an amazing resource of both knowledge and support from faculty that will help me to advance in my career as an educator of elementary children,” she adds.
In today’s environment, teachers can have a hard row to hoe. As a practitioner, Denise has some solid advice for teachers entering the profession -- first about graduate school and second about teaching.
“First, the academic knowledge that I gained has been incredible. I read and studied numerous subject areas and learned about current best practices for teaching. Second, I also built respectful relationships with professors and feel confident that their wisdom and assistance will always be close at hand. Third, I have been able to reach out to the community through many of the assignments in my classes that require interactions with the world at large. Through various organizations that I have become involved with at Otterbein, I have had the opportunity to contribute my time and talents to the local schools and community,” she says.
“One important quality of a great teacher is passion,” she explains. “Passion for knowledge – both learning and imparting it. Passion for teaching… Passion for being a lifelong learner… In this world of uncertain career opportunities for teachers, exemplifying passion for your chosen profession will most certainly propel you forward in securing a special place in this world.”
Couple Denise’s passion with desire and what do you get? Her love of teaching!
“Teaching provides me with the opportunity to interact with young children. I find that interaction stimulating and rewarding. Seeing the amazement on a child’s face when they accomplish something is very gratifying,” she says smiling.
With all this time spent studying at Otterbein, Denise still finds time to have fun.
“My favorite thing to do outside of work and school is to read for pleasure. A good mystery is just what I love! I like to visit with family and friends, spending time sharing a meal, playing a game or doing a puzzle. I like to create things while engaging in a variety of crafts and I find making gifts for others very satisfying. Playing with my dog fills those extra left-over moments during the day,“ she adds.