Hunter Rush ('08, '11M)

Hunter Rush"Last semester I received an email from the School of Education letting me know that I was nominated to apply for the Strong Scholar Award, which was to be awarded to one graduate and one undergraduate student that year. The award identifies prominent, up and coming pre-service teachers at different points in their teacher preparation. I felt honored just to be nominated and enjoyed writing the required essay to discuss my goals as a future teacher. Within a few weeks of submitting my application, I found out that I had been selected and would receive the award along with $5,000 to help pay off loans and set up my future classroom! I was determined to make the Hattie M. Strong Foundation and my professors proud by being the best student teacher I could be before beginning my placements the following semester."

"My first student teaching placement was one that I had to "audition" for. I had heard about the dual language immersion pilot program at a local elementary school a year or so before it started and hoped, if there was a chance, to be a part of it. During the fall of 2010, I was contacted by the school and asked to prove or demonstrate my Spanish speaking abilities. I went in for my audition and was met by my future cooperating teacher. She, a native Spanish speaker, began a conversation with me to see how much Spanish I knew and if I could actually communicate. Within two minutes she was on her classroom phone to let the principal know that she had found a potential substitute for the dual language classroom. The principal made some phone calls and quickly had my name put on the substitute list. That meant I was able to meet my future students and sub in the kindergarten classroom before I started student teaching."

"Once my placement actually began, I immediately fell in love with the elementary-school culture and how friendly the staff, administrators and students were. Since the pilot dual language program was so new, I spent an average of 11 hours at school a day planning and creating materials from scratch, and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. One day, during the last few weeks of my placement, I found myself setting up my bulletin board at 8PM after having arrived that morning at 7:15. All of a sudden a small dog walked into my room and was soon followed by the principal who had returned to school to clean up his office. We talked for a long time, and he encouraged me to attend a local job fair (At Harrisonburg High School) later that month. I went to the job fair to interview with Harrisonburg City Public Schools and was hired on the spot! I was ecstatic and could not be happier about returning to the elementary school as a real teacher."

"Shortly before being hired, I found out that I was selected by the members of the School of Education at JMU to be inducted as a Virginia Teacher of Promise (TOP). During the last weekend of March, I attended the TOP conference and received a pin, medal, and certificate to commemorate the honor. I attended workshops and participated in several small-group discussions about teaching and changing the world one student at a time. I left the Institute feeling more determined than ever to meet the needs of my students."

"I am currently completing my last student teaching placement at a high school in a nearby county, and I am loving every minute of it as well. At first, I missed the tiny chairs and the knee-high hugs, but soon I found out how much I love my content and being able to provide emotional and academic support to teenagers."

"I am grateful for the support I have received from each of my professors, university supervisors, cooperating teachers, and administrators and cannot wait to have a classroom of my own this fall!"


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