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Success Stories

Hear what former Teacher Education students have to say about our program and about their experiences as teachers!

Elizabeth Elmi, Class of 2012

Special Education Teacher, Rotolo Middle School, Batavia, Illinois

My name is Elizabeth Elmi, I graduated in May 2012 with my degree as an Intervention Specialist. I was hired in July as an eighth-grade special education teacher at Rotolo Middle School in Batavia, Illinois. I teach Math, Language Arts and Literature, and Study Skills in a resource setting, and also co-teach a Language Arts and Literature class. I have a caseload of thirteen students and have class sizes of no more than twelve students (with the exception of my co-taught class). The first three weeks where rough; my head was spinning. I had a never-ending “to do” list and was extremely overwhelmed. After three weeks, I started to get the hang of it, and no longer was planning day by day. I can honestly say that I now LOVE my job! I have amazing coworkers and awesome students, and I teach in a great community.

My experience at UD is one for which I am extremely grateful! I learned so much through my classes, and even more in my field placements. Make the most of your student teaching because it is a great learning tool. I miss UD every day, but I love my job and I have UD to thank for preparing me for this next chapter of my life. 

First-Year Teacher Advice

  1. Ask for help. Coworkers will say, "Let me know if you need anything or have any questions.” Take them up on that. I did and it was extremely beneficial.
  2. Visit It is an awesome website with a ton of free classroom ideas.
  3. Classroom management is HUGE, but it is also one of the hardest things. Have rules, rewards and consequences.
  4. My administrator told me to never stay at school past 5:00 p.m. It sounds like a great idea. I have not figured out how to get everything done and leave by five, but maybe one day!
  5. Get to know your students. I am fortunate enough to only see 22 students a day, so getting to know them on a more personal level has not been very hard. I have realized that making those personal connections with students is extremely important to gaining their trust.
  6. Contact parents in the first few weeks of school to introduce yourself and ask if they have any questions or concerns. Make sure you call/email with positive comments. Families are used to getting calls about the negative behaviors that student exhibits throughout the day, but I have been getting really positive responses to calling or sending emails about the positive student behaviors.

Colleen Hoheisel, Class of 2012

I am working in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, with third- and fourth-grade special needs students. I must say that thus far it has been one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life, but I feel that UD has prepared me well, especially in promoting professionalism when working with students, their families, and colleagues.

Jenny Holzmer, Class of 2012

Cathcart selected Jenny Holzmer during an extensive interview process at the University of Dayton. She is enrolled in the prestigious LaLanne Program as she earns a master's degree in education, and will stay with the students next year as well.

"It was an exciting first day, and I'm very happy with how everything went," Holzmer said. "We'll be doing a lot of hands-on activities. We've been talking a lot about how the students are the leaders of their school, too."

Holzmer said that she has high expectations of her 14 students.

Emily Poeppelman, Class of 2012

As my first day of teaching begins tomorrow, in the 8th grade at Banks Trail Middle School, I can't stop thinking about all of the classes I attended at UD in the past four years. I feel extremely prepared for this year because of the UD professors who pushed me to learn the latest and greatest education strategies. It is going to be weird not sitting in the student's chair, but I can't wait to take this next step. I just wanted to thank the Teacher Education professors for everything ithey have done to help me become a teacher. 

Anne Sharp, Class of 2012

Hello! My name is Annie Sharp. I am currently teaching Pre-K in Durant, Mississippi. Attached is a picture of my kids and me saying thank you to a family who sent my classroom some play food!

Kelly Weisenborn, Class of 2012

I just cannot say thank you enough for how well UD's program prepared me for teaching. Today, I had a professional development meeting over the common core, and I felt like it was old news! Also, my principal is making all of the teachers write student learning objectives and other documentation to prepare us for the new evaluation system for next year, and I feel like I have done these a million times. I want to express my gratitude again, and let you know how much I am using everything that UD's Teacher Education program taught us.

Jennifer Cain, Class of 2011

After many interviews with principals from various DPS buildings, I received an offer from Wogaman 4-8. I accepted and am the 8th grade language arts teacher. My offer came with a week and a half left until school began. Since then, I have been busy with lesson planning, improving classroom management, and getting oriented with my school. The district received a Teach Ohio grant for educators to get their Reading Endorsement, so I have gone back to school as well. There is a nice Resident Educator program in place that I attend every month. At Wogaman, I am a member of the PSC team and the honor society advisor.

I appreciate everything that you did with leading the Urban Teacher Program. The notes, discussions, and readings have started flooding back to me. I am constantly reflecting on lessons and management ideas, figuring out what will work. We are halfway through the first quarter already, and it was only a week ago that I started to feel like I was doing things "right." I have found some wonderful mentors to guide me in the building. I also am in constant communication with my cluster over students, lessons, and procedures. My cluster and I have become quite close! Their support and understanding has been wonderful when I need to vent over an issue.

Still, I feel that I was prepared for teaching in an urban environment. So many of my students crave teachers who are driven to help them succeed. They have dealt with more in their 12-14 years than I could ever imagine! I find that some students will do anything to have an honest conversation with me. They want an adult around that they can trust. They also crave predictability and structure. That has been a huge goal for me this quarter.

Thank you again for being a wonderful teacher and preparing me to guide these students. I am having the time of my life, doing what I have always wanted to do! 

Ismael Ruiz, Class of 2011

I am currently the junior level religion teacher at an all-boys Marianist school in Honolulu, Hawaii. I teach six classes of World Religions. In addition to that, I am the moderator of the LIFE team, which is the peer ministry group on campus. Even though Hawaii is GREAT, I miss UD dearly.

Mary Fawcett, Class of 2011

I graduated from UD in Spring 2011 with my bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. I am currently teaching first grade in a charter school in Columbus, Ohio. This is my second year of teaching, but my first year at this school. My students are primarily West African and the majority of students are Muslim. At first, I was concerned because my students seemed very different from me and any other classroom I had been in. Would I be able to communicate with the parents? Would my students be able to understand me? And if they couldn’t, what would I do? Well, I had no reason to be concerned. My students and I communicate without any problems. I have four that are receiving ESL services and two in the process of getting onto IEPs. The parents in this school have been incredible. 

I feel that I am having a greater impact working at a school with low income refugee students than I would at a private wealthy school. The education I am giving my students is going to help change their lives here in the United States. I work with an amazing team that cares very deeply about their students. The teachers I work with are not here for money; they are here because they are passionate teachers who love teaching. They are the teachers that are going to make a difference, and I am proud to be one of them.

Chris Lemon, Class of 2011

I am currently working as a Spanish I and II teacher at Trotwood-Madison High School, with two preps, six classes and about 165 students in total. I am in my third week of teaching stateside, and do not have any photos yet. In my Spanish classes, we are in the transition phase from a class were I speak mostly English to one where I speak Spanish 90% of the time, with the goal of having students do so as well by the end of the school year. 

Last year, I was teaching English as an English Teaching Assistant through the Fulbright-García Robles program at three schools in Mexico State (Estado de México/Edomex), México: La Escuela Normal de Ixtapan de la Sal (teacher education college in Ixtapan de la Sal, Edomex, MX), La Escuela Secundaria Lic. Salvador Christopher Vergara Cruz (middle school in Ixtapan de la Sal, Edomex, MX) and El Centro Escolar Alfredo del Mazo (elementary school in Villa Guerrero, Edomex, MX). We used a student novel that I wrote in my 3rd year English course at the junior high, Long Live Ixtapan de la Sal! Long Live Mexico (available at In the normal school, our year culminated with the public presentation of a condensed version of the musical Grease in both Ixtapan de la Sal and Villa Guerrero (see attached photo from the presentation in Ixtapan de la Sal, May 17, 2012). 

Veronica Valentino, Class of 2011

Kindergarten teacher Veronica Valentino works with students in the class room at DECA Prep, the latest charter school to open in Dayton. It just opened in August and has 246 children enrolled in grades K, 1, 2 and 6. Grades 3-5 will be added respectively over the next three years.

Bethany Akerhielm, Class of 2009

I graduated from UD in 2009, and spent my first years out substitute teaching, as well as teaching pre-kindergarten. I am now working towards my Masters in Library Science and work for the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library System. More specifically, I work with a program called On the Road to Reading, and the goal is to promote early literacy skills. I visit daycares and ministry daycares all over Indianapolis, providing 30-minute story time programming to children from infants to five years old. I use the skills I learned at UD daily to engage children in stories, songs, and finger plays. Another aspect of my job is to provide resources to daycare owners and parents about the importance of early literacy. I feel confident and comfortable working with diverse populations because of the variety of field experiences I had while at UD. 

Ashley Anderson, Class of 2009

As an Intervention Specialist, my greatest triumph has been that in the past five years of teaching, I have had two of my students test out of Special Education. This was a great feeling to know that because of my preparation and the students' perseverance, the students are now able to move on to a general education classroom and have a great deal of success.

Colleen Durham, Class of 2009

I graduated in 2009, with a degree in ECE. After graduation, I moved back to Chicago and began a Master's Program to get my degree as a Reading Specialist. While completing my masters, I worked as an aide at a private special needs school for one year. After that, I got a job with a Catholic school in the city of Chicago where I teach 2nd grade. Since beginning at the school in 2010, I have been a part of creating a school-wide curriculum called the Leader in Me through the Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective Kids. We are working towards Lighthouse status this year, and are proud to say that we are the first PK-8th grade Catholic school in our city to have adopted this curriculum, which teaches students how to better their lives with specific language and life-long habits. Lastly, I completed my master's program in March of 2012 from National Louis University. 

Kara Kahlig, Class of 2009

I graduated UD in May 2009 with my Intervention Specialist degree. I finished my Master's in Literacy in May 2011. I am currently a teacher in Oakwood City Schools. I have been working with kindergarten children for the past two years. Two years prior to kindergarten, I was working with 4th-6th graders with Moderate to Intensive disabilities.

Along with being an Intervention Specialist in kindergarten, I am also the reading teacher and gifted services teacher. I enjoy having so many "hats" in the building, because I have been given the opportunity to work with all abilities.

UD professors, along with my student teaching experience, taught me so much of what I know! 

Ryan Schwieterman, Class of 2008

I wanted to take a minute tonight to thank all of you who have played an important role in my four years here at the University of Dayton as part of the Teacher Education program. From those of you who played an important role in advising me as a confused first-year student and answering my many questions in 110 to those of you whom I was fortunate enough to have for several classes during my education career, you all are equally important to me. Just as Dean Lasley and Dr. Curran commented tonight about the faculty and their outstanding work in their professional area and their relationships with students, I couldn’t be happier to be graduating from the department here on campus that best displays this sense of a learning community. It has been a great four years, and you all have taught me so much. I just hope I can remember it all and put it into great use next year when I begin my teaching assignment as a 7th and 8th grade Science teacher and an 8th grade Reading teacher at a Catholic School in Columbus.

Thanks again for all the work you do to serve students, and most importantly to me, the work you do in building and maintaining great faculty-student relationships with those in the department. I am honored to be graduating from not only a fine university but an even better department. Thank you all for your hard work.

Lauren Witt, Class of 2008

I am a 2008 graduate from UD. I'm currently a Special Education teacher for students with autism in Boston Public Schools at a school called Orchard Gardens. Our school was actually mentioned by Daval Patrick last night during the Democratic Convention because we went from being one of the worst schools in the state to one of the best. Recently, Yo Yo Ma has partnered with our school and will be attending our Arts Show, and we'll be starting a Ballroom Dance program with our 5th graders soon.

Jessica Hayes, Class of 2007

Hello! I just wanted to take the time to say thank you for everything that you have done. I just accepted a job position in Aurora, Ohio, as a 7th grade math and language arts teacher. Thanks to all of your hard work and all of the classes that I took at UD, I was more than prepared for the interviews that I participated in. Looking back at all of the classes and assignments, they all were extremely helpful, and I believe that they definitely prepared me, which helped me to get the job. The superintendent stated that I should be more than proud, due to the background that I obtained at UD, because out of 120 applicants I was the one who got the job and I could not have done it without all the help that I received from you. Thank you again for everything.

Laura Koch, Class of 2006

This is Laura Koch, I graduated last May. I had Dr. Hart for EDT 109, and I wanted to write because I had my Praxis III today. First of all, thank you so much. I felt so prepared! When I did the pre- and post-interviews, I was so comfortable talking about all the domains, and I had learned to collect plenty of evidence (due to the portfolios). I was so excited when my assessor said, “If I ever have to teach this unit in my science class, then I will definitely use this lesson.” Well, I wanted to say thank you for all the preparation that I had at UD. It has helped me tremendously.

Andrea Weeks, Class of 2006

I am a preschool teacher for ages 3 to 5 at the Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center. It is great, and I am using everything UD taught me. The center is NAEYC accredited, and I am able to contribute my knowledge of manageable assessments and teaching to the early childhood standards (while keeping them fun). I feel so well prepared! Thank you so much!

Sarah Bowers, Class of 2003

As the third quarter starts of my first year, I have to say that all of the professors at UD did a wonderful job preparing me for my first year!

There are other first year teachers at my school that have never heard of a running record, and those that have done zero Praxis III preparation. I can’t thank everyone enough for the massive amount of work we did. I can see now that there was a reason and a purpose for it all! I thank you for making me work sohard. I feel that it has eased the craziness of my first year, and everything that encompasses it.

I am so far ahead in what I know about reading assessments, appropriate math methods, etc., that I have other teachers coming to me, asking for assistance. Everyone at UD was so knowledgeable, and I thank you for sharing your knowledge with me. It has helped me in so many ways.

I know the current seniors are heading into “full time” student teaching, and I wanted to wish them the best of luck. I know they will be well-prepared, and I hope they realize that all this hard work and craziness will equal big success for all of them in the future. Good luck to all, and thank you again!