Recently, five William & Mary Holmes Scholars traveled to Dozier Middle School in Newport News to speak to students about careers in education. Dozier Middle School, led by Principal Crystal Haskins, is a highly diverse school serving students in grades six, seven, and eight. Sixteen students expressing a career interest in education were invited by Haskins to meet with the Holmes Scholars. Holmes Scholars shared information about attending William & Mary; preparing for college; educator skills, dispositions, requirements, and options; and careers related to education in such fields as counseling and psychology.
The middle schoolers were engaged, taking notes, answering questions, and seeking information. After spending almost two hours interacting and sharing, students thanked the Holmes Scholars with applause, invitations to return, and even hugs. Yet as appreciative as these youngsters were for this opportunity to learn and ask questions about options in education, the Holmes Scholars shared that they were just as enriched by this outreach experience.
William & Mary Holmes Scholar Danielle Giscombe, a counselor at Tidewater Community College, remarked, “I learned as much, if not more than I offered, about what young people need to think about and actually do to prepare for their academic careers and ultimately their career of choice. I was astounded by how perceptive and articulate they were about their chosen academic and career paths. It was a little scary to find students so young asking and answering such mature and well thought out questions about their future.”
Fellow Holmes Scholar Yi Hao relished the chance to see her peers at work. She commented, “I deeply appreciated the opportunity to connect to a local middle school and share my experiences at William & Mary with younger students. This was made possible by my stellar peer scholars, who each has exemplified leadership and a true passion for education. For me, it was more amazing to watch my colleagues shine in their roles as classroom teachers and counselors in addition to how we interact with each other as doctoral students. It was a unique experience, very rewarding and invigorating, reminding me we are educators first, and then educational researchers.”
For Scholars Nancy Chae and Chandra Floyd, both former K-12 educators, the experience made them reminiscent for the days when they interacted with youngsters on a daily basis. Nancy remarked, “It reminded me of my school counseling days and how much I miss the experience of interacting with students and watching their growth over time.”
Chandra, who also serves as an intern for W&M’s Center for Gifted Education, was excited to see several sixth graders in the group. She took a moment to promote Camp Launch, a two-week summer residential experience sponsored by the Center. “Connecting young people with life-changing experiences is the part I miss most about working in K-12,” she said later. “I’m always eager for opportunities to contribute to building that pipeline to college for young people, particularly those who are underrepresented in higher education.”
Jamon Flowers, a former K-12 principal, best summed up the experience: “I was thrilled to see so many young adults interested in becoming teachers, the parent of all professions. The future of America depends on its teachers; therefore, it is the responsibility of current educators to take the lead in recruiting future teachers.” W&M Holmes Scholars are committed to this task.