- Nina Johnson
Program / Year
Master of Arts in Teaching ’18
I’m a third culture kid, meaning that I have grown up all over the world and don’t necessarily have a clear sense of home.
What led you to enroll at Lewis & Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling?
When I started doing research Lewis & Clark had the best reputation for preparing teachers in the Portland area.
Who or what inspired you to pursue your chosen field of study?
I have had several influential teachers in my life and have felt like teaching would be my vocation. I have worked in a wide variety of school setting and enjoyed each of these experiences. I felt that getting my license was the next step in my career.
What does social justice mean to you?
Social justice means actively working to ensure equity in our society.
How do you hope to apply your social justice education in your chosen career?
In education, social justice means amplifying marginalized voices and creating curriculum that honors all perspectives and experiences.
Where have you been working/interning as a student, and what does that work entail?
I have been interning at Skyline School where I help teach and run a kindergarten/1st grade classroom. This involves preparing lessons, teaching and then reflecting on how to better my teaching practices. A lot of the work in teaching involves building relationships with students which happens throughout the day by inviting students into conversations where they feel seen and heard.
What is the most fun part of your program?
It has been fun getting to know the other MAT candidates. We have become very close over the course of the year and I suspect that they will be a crucial part of my growth as an educator in the upcoming years.
What is the hardest part of your program?
Becoming a teacher can at times feel like a lot of hoops to jump through, for good reason, since the state wants to ensure that licensed teachers are effective. Nonetheless, the work we do to get licensed can feel like a lot of busy work that isn’t necessarily contributing to my own personal growth as a teacher. Thankfully, it accounts for a relatively small portion of the overall program.
Who has been your most influential professor, and why?
Linda Griffin because she truly showed us what good instruction looks like by modelling it for us in our graduate school classes. In addition, her passion for math education is contagious.
What is a unique perspective you bring to your cohort?
I’m a third culture kid, meaning that I have grown up all over the world and don’t necessarily have a clear sense of home. In addition, I grew up in a bilingual family. I bring those perspectives into my classwork and internship.
What career will you be pursuing after graduation? Did you intend for this to be your career path when you enrolled?
I will be pursuing a career as an elementary educator which is what I planned to do when I initially enrolled.
Describe an "ah-ha" or "right-turn" moment you have experienced here - a time when your perspective, opinion, outlook, or goals changed suddenly due to a specific experience.
I definitely feel that I have developed a much deeper appreciation for the challenges that emerging bilingual students face. I also believe that I have become much better equipped to serve students who are emerging bilinguals. Our class that was taught by a TOSA who specializes in English language instruction helped me understand that although I am bilingual, I was lacking many skills to best serve my emerging bilingual students.
What do you think of Portland?
Portland is a wonderful city!