My Name is Jillian Schernikau and I am seeking acceptance to the Master's level program to receive a degree in Curriculum and Instruction through The University of Nebraska at Kearney. I am currently enrolled in the Transitional Certification Program through The University of Nebraska at Kearney and when given the option to continue in pursuit of an additional degree, I was more than certain of my choice.
I currently hold a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Spanish and a minor in Education. I graduated from The University of Nebraska at Lincoln in December of 2012. I have a transitional teaching certificate that was issued in August of 2014 and expires in August of 2015. I have already renewed this for next school year since it requires an annual renewal. This type of teaching certificate can be used for a maximum of three years as one completes a transitional teaching program.
I am currently employed, teaching spanish, at Heartland Community Schools in Henderson, NE. We serve the communities of Henderson and Bradshaw. As I complete my certification program, I am working part-time at HCS. I teach three classes: Spanish Level One, Spanish Level Two, and what is called an "Exploratory" class of 8th graders that is a semester long course. I am currently doing some additional substituting in the morning hours when I am not teaching my own classes. I am also assisting with the musical by choreographing and arranging costumes.
Before the 2014-2015 school year, I worked as Pharmacy Technician at Hy-Vee Pharmacy in Lincoln, NE. I held this position for about three years as I completed my undergraduate degree. After moving out of Lincoln and commuting two hours per day, I decided to pursue a program that could build on my undergraduate degree. When I accepted the position at Heartland Community Schools, I left the position at Hy-Vee.
Professional and Educational Goals
My professional and educational goals are both quite extensive. To begin, my short term goals include starting a Spanish Club, participation in the Language Fair at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the coming school year, and also beginning a mentoring program between the high school and elementary students where elementary students are exposed to the Spanish language at a young age. Exposure to phonetics in early learning has shown to support language learning later in life, as depicted in Patricia K. Kuhl's article Brain Mechanisms in Early Language Acquisition. I believe in making language learning a part of life and not just a subject to be studied, which is why it is a goal of mine to start a program like this.
My long-term goals include receiving a doctoral degree in Education. To achieve this, I will certainly need to take it one step at a time, continuing with a Master's degree. I feel very strongly about education and the different facets of what is such a broad entity. I want to be a living and participating role model and example to students of life long learning and how education positively contributes to the success I experience in my life and the livelihood of my family. I want to model to students how important it is to do what you love in life, and to pursue educating yourself in whatever area that may be. I am very interested in researching confidence and motivation and how these are related to and might be influenced by an educator. I want to study adolescent behaviors including daily habits and learn how confidence and motivation effect and are affected by these habits/behaviors, and how an educator can positively or negatively influence all of these factors, when I eventually write my dissertation.
In the classroom, my overall long-term goal(also what I strive for daily), is to be able to adequately differentiate to meet the needs of all students I encounter. To achieve this, I will need experience and education. I truly believe that the more I am exposed to, the more I can learn from. I believe the more I can learn, the more I can show how important education is and how it benefits students not only via subject matter, but in the quality of teacher present in their classroom.
Use of Technology
Computer/Technology Applications in which I feel competent are as follows:
- Garage Band
I have used technology in numerous ways in my classroom. I have recently become acquainted with HAIKU (an application similar to Blackboard), and currently use it to post warm-up activities for students. I can link and embed things such as Quizlet to this site so students are able to pull this up and immediately get focused on class. I have used a Tackk stream like this one to have students post a "selfie" and write a few sentences in spanish underneath the image as a way to incorporate technology. Students enjoy viewing this in class and it gives a way for students to see work of other students in a more casual way. I have also created a website for my class using Weebly, and will soon introduce it to parents as a way to stay in touch with what happens in the daily life of their students. I enjoy how this allows the parents to get to know the teacher on a little more personal level and see how they interact with students. I have used Prezi to create presentations while earning my Bachelor's degree. My favorite piece of technology to use is a mixture of Garage Band, iMovie and YouTube. Students choose a topic within the Spanish language to create a song about. They choose the karaoke version of a popular song and rewrite the lyrics to create a popular melody with new material. They record their voices using Garage Band and create a song. Then they record themselves and make a music video that other students can view and be presented with material.
The example video I used to show my students is below.
Experience with Diversity
To begin, I attended a high school with around 350 per class. Within this large number of students, I had many experiences with people of different backgrounds. I opted out of my assigned district to attend my high school, so I lived in a separate neighborhood than most students at my school. I developed long lasting relationships with people of different racial/ethnic backgrounds, and with people of different socioeconomic backgrounds. For me, diversity is something "normal."
Now that I am teaching in a smaller school in more of a rural area, I have found that my experiences with diversity are aiding me in teaching tolerance within my classroom. My personal and professional experiences with diversity are hard to carve out and focus on because it truly is so much a part of how I carry myself and how I live my life. It makes sense to me to be "tolerant" of differences, so that is how I do things.
I currently teach in a district that has a children's home. Students from less than ideal home lives, issues with the law, etc. may be sent to the home in the town that I teach in. At times these students seem to be polar opposites from the student body native to the town. I see the student body keeping them at an arm's length at times, because of the differences between them. For me, this provides an excellent opportunity to close that gap. If I hear a student from our town talking about a student who is in the home, I address it. I compassionately explain, from a different viewpoint, what that student could be experiencing. It is vital that we understand that not everyone has been raised the same way as we have. It's important for me to touch on that and make students aware. I encourage compassion and understanding for differences and at time, I will play "Devil's Advocate," and forcing them to look at things from a different angle.
I have also traveled to Honduras for a medical/pharmacy mission trip. I was in the country for a week, and was exposed to what it is like to live in a third world country. On the outskirts of the larger towns, in the rural areas, citizens live in shacks with no running water. I witnessed the lack of medical care/insurance system like we are used to in the United States. Knowing these conditions exist is one thing, but experiencing them is another. For me, this was eye-opening to experience. It is so important to understand that things like this really do exist and that there is so much value and importance in the differences between cultures. I like to be able to share this with my students and give them an idea of what it really is like in other parts of the world.