February 25, 2022

Lauren Wilkin

MEd Curriculum and Instruction ’21

Lauren chose the Graduate School’s Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program for the small cohort model that she knew would enable her to make deep connections with other educators and her professors.

Lauren Wilkin, MEd '21 Lauren Wilkin, MEd ’21When Lauren Wilkin, MEd Curriculum and Instruction ’21, completed her undergraduate program with a degree in special education and a general education certificate, she knew she wanted more specialized training in order to provide her students with the best education possible. Teaching at a school with a bilingual program meant she needed proven strategies and a better understanding of language acquisition to meet her students’ needs.

Choosing the graduate school’s Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program for its small class sizes, Lauren knew this would enable her to make deep connections with other educators and her professors—connections that often are not possible in a larger program.

“We were able to have vulnerable and honest conversations about the brokenness of the education system and how each person in the class experienced that brokenness,” Lauren says of the experience. “It was easier to feel safe in classes with fewer people, and we were able to celebrate successes together because we had the time.”

With her largest class having a total of 8 people, Lauren reflects that “the small cohort was the highlight of [her] experience.” This intentionally intimate cohort model also allowed her to connect deeply with program faculty.

“I had the awesome opportunity to take a class every summer, three summers in a row, with Professor Lina Darwich. Lina witnessed my journey from fresh-faced, brand-new teacher, to the end of my first-year, to the end of my second-year with a year in distance learning. She recognized my growth, which made it easier for me to see as well. I felt proud of myself because she validated my development.”

Lauren also experienced the graduate school’s social justice mission being expertly woven into every class.

“We talked about structural racism, disabilities and social emotional wellness. We heard from different perspectives and read books and watched documentaries/videos to from diverse sources. I especially loved my reading classes because I was able to talk with other educators and find out how I could diversify my classroom library so my students felt seen and represented. I have learned how to authentically incorporate culture, race, identity into my classroom in meaningful ways.”

Throughout her time at the graduate school, Lauren had the opportunity to collaborate with Professor Darwich on multiple research projects, including teacher resiliency, goal-setting with students, and professional development on the intersection of language learning and disabilities. These passion projects were instrumental in developing her teacher philosophy and identity.

“Lina challenged me to go deeper, to think about the impact and make my plans realistic,” Lauren says. “She helped me find my voice and what I really care about.”

Lauren has now come full circle, recently being a guest speaker in a dyslexia class in which she was formerly a student. She describes it as an opportunity to assume a teacher-leader role, putting what she learned into practice and teaching other teachers how to make the classroom environment more accessible for their students.

And to her fellow teachers who are considering taking this step in their careers as well: “Get ready. This program takes your comfort. Not in a bad way, but it forces growth. In order to get the most out of this, you need time. You need space. You need to be willing to open yourself up. We are all working to make ourselves better and the world better. As a teacher, you are becoming a landmark person in a child’s life. It is a priceless privilege.

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