MaKayla Foster ’20

Majors: Elementary Education and English

What do you do now?

I am a 3/4 literacy teacher at Westford School in Westford, Vermont (part of EWSD). More specifically, students explore word study, reading workshop, and writing workshop with me!

How did your academic experience at Saint Michael’s College help prepare you for your career?

Every class I took–from electives to required courses–was enriching and has shaped my teaching philosophy and practices. The Education Department set me up for success because I started visiting classrooms during my first year. These placements provided hands-on learning and networking experience. The school visits gradually became more complex, as I planned and taught consecutive lessons with a group. In the fall of my senior year, I was able to tutor a student one-on-one. During my final semester, I was beyond fortunate to be placed at Westford School in Callie Goss’ (SMC ’12) 3/4 literacy classroom. After an unusual ending to nine weeks of student teaching, I was hired to be Callie’s long-term substitute during remote learning, and I later took my current position. There is no denying that Saint Michael’s College helped me network and get these positions!

What is your favorite memory or class from your time studying at St. Mike’s?

Choosing a favorite moment or class is so difficult! I was able to travel to the Holy Land with the Religious Studies Department, Selma, Alabama with MOVE, and various colleges with the field hockey team. These hands-on experiences have increased my global awareness, as well as my students’ awareness of the world. Traveling to these locations directly influenced my teaching.

One of my favorite classes was Children’s Literature. I spent hours in the children’s book section of Durick during my time at St. Mike’s. I also enjoyed the Inclusive Classroom course. We had the opportunity to work one-on-one with a local student twice a week. During these sessions, we used multisensory teaching strategies to help them master foundational literacy concepts. My experience in this course prepared me to provide quality Tier 2 instruction in my classroom. It also shaped my collaboration philosophy with all learning team members.

I can’t leave out the English Department! Some highlights: making American Literature trivia cards with Professor D’Amore…breaking away from the canon by reading American Literature novels…Working on a summer research writing project with Professor Root…The list goes on and on!

How have you translated your volunteer experience at Saint Michael’s into giving back to your community after graduation?

I continue to be involved in Operation Christmas Child, which was an organization I volunteered with prior to attending Saint Michael’s. While in college, the field hockey team participated in this initiative. I look forward to packing shoebox gifts every year.

Additionally, volunteering with MOVE in Selma, Alabama opened my eyes to the history of the Civil Rights Movement. This has positively influenced my teaching, as I am able to share my experiences with photographs and visual literacy activities. While this example may not constitute “giving back,” it is important, because community service, volunteering, and foundational social skills all derive from explicit teaching about social comprehension and history. What better way to explore all of these topics than through books in literacy!

Any advice for incoming or current students?

Four years flies by. Soak up every moment you can. Explore new spaces in Durick. Go for a walk with a friend. Get that ice cream cone. Find what makes you happy and give it your all. Graduating during a pandemic made me appreciate each and every day so much more.