STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 08/07/2009

Gordon In The Classroom

A Life-Changing Journey
Natalie Ferjulian ’10

Unlike most college freshmen, Melissa (Kerr) Winchell knew when she entered Gordon that teaching was her passion and even more specifically, teaching English as a Second Language. Upon graduation in 1999, with a degree in English education and ESL certification, Winchell landed a job teaching AP English at Classical High School in Lynn, Massachusetts, where she had done her student teaching.

“I enjoyed teaching in an urban environment, and I knew eventually I’d make the switch to teaching cross-culturally,” said Winchell. But it wasn’t for another five years that an ESL teaching opportunity would arise—when an influx of Somali refugees came to Lynn. “I just kept thinking ‘This is divine. Here’s what I’m meant to do and I’m being given this golden opportunity,’” Winchell says.

In 2008, after working as an ESL teacher for four years, Winchell was hired as the language support chairperson for the Lynn Public School System. She now oversees 10 middle and high schools in Lynn, which combined have 3,000 English language learners. “I enjoy the opportunity to do justice for students who are overlooked,” said Winchell. “It’s really been a life-changing journey for me.”

Winchell is pursuing a doctorate degree in education at University of Massachusetts Boston with a dissertation on “Refugee Education and Marginalization.”

I collaborate with colleagues, parents and assistant teachers in accommodating students with pervasive developmental delay (PDD-Unspecified) and am part of the process of finding schools that meet their needs. I have kept
many of my old notes and books from undergrad and look back at them often.

—Kira Landrebe ’07
Pre-K, Boston, Massachusetts

Never Stop Learning
Danielle Zorn ’09

“During your first year of teaching, ask questions—be a learner. You don’t have to know it all,” says Krista (Maher) Erikson ’91, a special education teacher at North Shore Christian School (NSCS) in Lynn, Massachusetts. “No one expects you to know it all. You will make mistakes and it’s okay. There is a learning curve.”

Erickson, along with other Gordon alumni teaching at NSCS, uses her education degree to serve and instruct others. As a little girl she wanted to be a mom, a desire that later fed her passion for teaching. Majoring in elementary education and special education, Erikson’s desire to help children who have learning disabilities grew during her time at Gordon. Assistant professor of education Priscilla (Spoerer) Nelson ’74 was instrumental in sparking Erickson’s enthusiasm for teaching at the elementary level. Later on Nelson helped Erikson acquire a teaching position at NSCS.

Now Erikson teaches reading, math and writing one-on-one and in small groups to children who need extra help, as well as conducts screening and testing for the school’s admissions. “At the North Shore Christian School we focus on ‘no child left behind,’” Erikson says.

She is not finished learning from the classroom herself. Currently a student of Gordon’s graduate education program, Erikson, along with three other NSCS teachers, is taking Thursday night classes towards a Master of Arts in Teaching. She and her husband, David, a pastor in Malden, Massachusetts, and their four boys reside in Reading, Massachusetts, and continue to follow the Lord in their lives through teaching in the classroom and the pulpit.

“We never know it all,” Erikson says. And that is what keeps her passionate about learning and sharing that fervor with others.

I think every class I took at Gordon influences the way I teach, think, and continue to learn through other classes. Gordon prepared me far beyond many of my colleagues. Some graduate classes feel like a review because they go over much of the material Gordon taught!

—Matthew Taylor ’06
Special education for K–1, Whitman, Massachusetts

I am consistently using the SmartBoard in my room, and combined with having wireless Internet schoolwide, I can utilize good websites and videos in class, enhancing students’ learning and understanding of concepts. This fall I am beginning my master’s degree in instructional technology at George Mason University.

—Rachel Grover ’07
Fifth grade, Manassas, Virginia

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