Alex Verduin ’12 was a powerhouse through her Montclair State years. When she met Professor Christopher Cottle during her freshman year, he encouraged her to go into teaching and to take extra classes each semester. She did, and took eighteen or nineteen credits every semester afterward. She wanted to get her requirements done, get into the teacher program, get out and get into her career. Verduin graduated in 2012 after spending time on the Dean’s List and as a member of Kappa Omicron Nu, a national honors society. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said. “Montclair State put me where I am today.”
Today, she’s teaching fourth grade in Union City, NJ and loves it. “You get so attached to the kids,” she said. The students aren’t the only ones who are learning in Verduin’s class. Education is a dynamic field, and teachers have to stay on top of the latest technology to keep up with the students’ world and learning styles. She works with a Smartboard and an iPad, and through this found that she really enjoys working with technology. “You have to learn from experience. You can learn so much once you’re in the classroom.”
Another area where Verduin is furthering her professional development is working with students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Union City has a large Spanish-speaking population, prompting Verduin to work toward an English as a Second Language certification. She’s attending New Jersey City University to complete her certificate, and plans to work toward a Master’s degree in Urban Education once she finishes.
“I’m so grateful to have gone to Montclair State,” she said. “The school has a great teacher program.” Verduin did her student teaching in a fifth grade classroom in Clifton, NJ. She recalls having a very supportive cooperating teacher and learning a lot. “I got a feel for having my own class and all the responsibilities a teacher has.”
In addition to her certification in elementary education K-5 and certification to teach middle school English and Science, Verduin is certified in Child Advocacy. “I knew I wanted to work with kids,” she said, referring to her career goals before she was absolutely certain she wanted to teach. She enjoyed her Family and Child Studies courses, noting the variety of professors and how their experiences enhanced their teaching. One of her professors was an attorney and told the class first-hand stories, giving them a real-life context for the topics they studied. “I really loved my professors.”
While she was an undergraduate, Verduin worked with Project COPE, an initiative put forth by the Family and Child Studies Department to encourage disadvantaged teens in Paterson to make healthy life choices. “It was a good experience,” she said. “I enjoyed that.” To current Family and Child Studies students, Verduin advises, “it might seem overwhelming, but the hard work will pay off.”