First-Year Teachers Represent UMF as Alumna Around the Globe

First-Year Teachers Represent UMF as Alumna Around the Globe

By Leah Boucher – Staff Reporter

Hannah Somes and Willa Barron are starting off their teaching careers in France and China respectively, where they are teaching students English and learning more about other languages, as well.

Somes, who is a 2017 UMF Elementary Education graduate currently teaching conversation-oriented English classes at University of Angers, initially wanted to teach abroad in this country due to her interest in French that started in sixth grade.

“Ever since my first French class, I have been seeking more immersion in the language and wanted to travel to France,” said Somes in a Skype interview.

Somes first arrived in France in August and was quick to experience culture shock. “I was informed that I was not allowed to hand my class a syllabus,” said Somes. “France has a much more open view on education in this sense, which has quickly made me a strong and creative lesson planner.”

Somes was fortunate enough to study abroad at the University of Montreal for the spring semester of 2016, which prepared her for her current teaching position. “Being at a university in Quebec, I ended up speaking French the majority of the time,” said Somes. “Without this experience of constantly speaking in French for several months, I think my transition to France would have been much more difficult.”

Willa Barron, another 2017 UMF Elementary Education graduate, is teaching second grade in Shanghai, China, at Shanghai Fushan Zhengda Foreign Language Primary School. She first heard of this opportunity at an Educator’s Career Fair at UMF last March, where there were representatives from Lee Academy, a private high school in Maine.

Willa Barron teaches an English lesson to her students at the Fushan Primary School.
(Photo Courtesy of Willa Barron)

“Lee Academy has connections with many international schools, the Fushan school being one of them. When I heard about an opportunity to actually teach abroad, I jumped at it,” said Barron in a Skype interview.

Although there are many challenges that arise as a first-year teacher, Barron always tries to find the positives in her day through her students. “When I’m having one of those ‘I’m the worst teacher and I’m not doing well at my job’ days, I just think to myself ‘Even if I teach my students nothing all day, they are still learning English, which will get them so far in life,’” said Barron.

UMF not only has international alumna, but also current students who will represent the school while student teaching abroad in the spring of 2018. Bailey Ohman, a senior Elementary Education major who will be student teaching abroad in Daegu, South Korea, was initially worried about a language barrier between the students and herself. However, she was quickly informed that the school in Daegu has an English curriculum.

“At the Daegu International School, the curriculum is pretty much the same to that in America,” said Ohman. “They use Common Core throughout the school, and all students are expected to read and write in English. I am excited to listen to a different language being spoken among students in the halls and among people in the city, though.”

Barron encourages other education majors to put their fears aside and student teach or teach abroad. “Although some future teachers may worry about language barriers when teaching in foreign countries, it is always important to remember that we all smile and laugh in the same language, and that is one of the best ways to build relationships with students,” said Barron.


Student MEA, Now UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine, Gains Traction.

Student MEA, Now UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine, Gains Traction.

By Gavin Elliott – Contributing Write

After the recent name change approved by Student Senate, UMF Aspiring Educators, previously known as Student M.E.A. (Maine Education Association), seem to be growing in popularity.

Last year, the UMF Aspiring Educators were down to seven to ten members. The level of involvement was higher in the past, according to Beth Evans, a professor at UMF and faculty advisor for Aspiring Educators.

“When I first started teaching here at UMF around 20 years ago, just about every undergrad Ed Major was a member of at least one of the two education clubs,” Evans said.

This year at the first meeting, numbers had tripled when compared to the amount of members last year. This success is partially due to the club’s recent name change.

UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine at the Fall 2017 Club Fair
(Photo by Mitchell Agailb)

According to Stephen Riitano, the president of the Aspiring Educators, “the change was to align with the N.E.A. (National Education Association),” and to “let the students of UMF know that a membership to the student M.E.A. is not necessary, although UMF Aspiring Educators is still affiliated [with them].”

Aspiring Educators also held an Informational Meeting in the Ed Center along with Advocates for Disability Awareness Club (ADAC) and UMF Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC). Through this meeting, the members of it are very much clubs hoped to inform new students, as well as current students, of what they each do.

Members of Aspiring Educators will often find themselves brainstorming and discussing upcoming events, fundraising, looking at poverty’s impacts on schools, connecting with other educators and learning skills they may not typically receive in their regular classrooms to aid in their professional development.

Professor Evans elaborated, “It is imperative to know what everyone else is doing in this profession. Early childhood to middle to special ed, etc. and this club does a great job of preparing ed students to do just this.”

Evans went on to say “The club is great because the movers and shakers of the professional life we call teaching.”

The treasurer of Aspiring Educators, Carson Hope, says, “The club is great because you get to network with other educators and clubs, and learn about the community part of teaching.” This networking can also impact more people by allowing them to pool their resources, said Evans.

According to Riitano, an example of the clubs pooling of their resources will be seen on September 26th when Kelly-Anne Rush, more commonly known as Crafty Teacher Lady, will be speaking at 5:30 pm in the Landing about how “teachers can be financially smart while providing meaningful and engaging lessons for their students.”

Later in October, they will be hosting Scare Fest, where “a panel of current teachers and administrators come to UMF and discuss the real side of teaching,” Riitano said.

For more information or any questions on the Aspiring Educators, like them on Facebook at “UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine,” or drop into any of their meetings on Wednesdays, room 106 of the Kalikow Education Center at 7:30 pm