Jaclyn Porter '10
What is your current job?
Teaching Assistant at Westbrook Preparatory School (the first New York State-approved residential secondary school for students with Asperger syndrome, high functioning autism, and related conditions).
Why did you choose this profession?
After Haverford I went back to school for my Master's and Teaching Certification in Elementary Education. From a young age, I wanted to be a teacher, and though that desire wavered on and off throughout my academic life, minoring in Education at Haverford helped me realize how fulfilling a career in education could be. I always planned on teaching at the elementary level, but a friend told me about Westbrook and I've been able to use my general elementary background to teach high school students with special needs.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
My goal is to have my very own classroom. I started as a teacher's aide in a public elementary school and am now a teaching assistant at a private high school where I also get to teach my own class (Everyday Science - for students who will not be receiving advanced high school diplomas)...so the next step is to have a classroom I can call my own! I love helping out and learning from the teachers I've worked with, and being an aide/assistant gives me great opportunities to take a back seat and really get to know all the students, but I want to be a full-fledged teacher. I am also considering getting certified in Special Education to become a more well-rounded educator.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
Initially I had been hesitant to even consider working at Westbrook. If I had brushed off my friend's suggestion merely because I had little to no experience with high school students or with children on the autism spectrum, I would have missed an amazing opportunity to work with this population. It was intimidating at first, coming into an environment I was completely unfamiliar with, but it has been an incredible learning experience and it has expanded my options and interests career-wise.
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
The values of social justice, selflessness, and diversity that permeate throughout Haverford helped solidify my desire to help people and to have a positive influence on children's lives. My coursework at Haverford helped me to see the big picture in the world of education, and how my work in the classroom can make a difference in people's lives. I know that as a teacher, I'm never going to make all that much money, but that is more than OK with me, as long as I do something that I love and that makes the world a little bit better.
At Haverford, I had to work so hard, and it was because of that hard work that I felt so accomplished upon graduating. That carries over to my life as a teacher, too. Every day I face many challenges -- things as small as the smartboard not working to as serious as a student engaging in self-injurious behavior -- but it is because of those challenges that I come home every day feeling like I have done something important and meaningful.