It was just four years ago that alumni Dan Decker and Rachel Janho said goodbye to Timothy as students, both embarking on a journey to Clark Summit University in Pennsylvania for studies in Early Childhood Education.
Four years later, as they are college seniors, it is Timothy where they chose to come back as student teachers.
“It’s funny just reminiscing of things that are similar, things that are different. This experience has brought back a lot of memories,” said Decker.
Both alumni were placed in the first grade, helping out Mrs. Sciacca and Miss Ramunda for the first eight weeks of school.
“Mrs. Sciacca has really helped me with the ins and outs of the thought process of being a teacher,” said Janho. “It helps to be in one classroom for weeks on end. I’ve been able to see every student excel. I’ve been able to see where they hit walls. I’ve been able to observe their emotional levels and what they can handle, and that’s something that when you’re in the classroom, it’s invaluable. You can’t learn that when you’re a student in college. You have to go to the classroom to see it.”
For Decker, learning to balance organization and flexibility, has been key.
“It’s great that I was learning under Miss Ramunda. She’s a veteran teacher and I’ve learned so much from her just in the last few weeks. She taught me that it’s very important to have a plan, but sometimes you need to abandon that plan to do what’s best for your students and determine what engages them and what activities they enjoy.”
Their college requires eight weeks of student teaching in a private school and eight in a public school. Both experienced TCS as students, but being part of the faculty and staff has given these young educators new eyes for their alma mater.
“Being a student at Timothy, I always felt loved and now being a teaching assistant here and observing the teachers is something really special. They have such a great heart for their kids,” said Janho. “Mrs. Babij especially, she always likes to check in on us and see how the kids are doing, how she can help us and help the kids. She’s definitely there for the teachers and it’s such a great support system of teachers and of families.”
“I think the biggest thing that separates Timothy from other schools and other organizations is that these teachers really want to get to know their students on a personal level,” said Decker. “It’s not so much about how they perform in the classroom and making sure they look good because their students are doing well, but it’s really about making sure the students are put in a position where they’re going to succeed in the future.”
For Janho, the experience has caused her to appreciate Christian education, having seen the difference between this and a public one.
“I didn’t know if I would like teaching in a Christian environment. I was hesitant. I thought I would like public school better, but coming back to teach here and being with the elementary school teachers and the faculty, has really been something special and I think I would definitely come back to teach in a Christian school. The freedom that we have in a Christian school to interact with the families, kids and other staff members is really special to me. You can pray for one another, you can pray for the families, you can pray in class. It’s very different. It feels like home.”
In choosing Timothy as a student or educator, Janho believes it’s not just about gaining an education or a career, but a family.
We wish these almost college grads, a blessed end to their school year and look forward to seeing what the future holds! They are choosing one of the most important careers you can have in the life of a child – training them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) academically, socially, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually.