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Jennifer Ray (’12)

Jennifer is grateful to have found her passion for teaching

Jennifer Ray’s desire to receive more from her work than a paycheck inspired her to study elementary education. She wanted her work to serve a higher purpose. “Teachers have the potential to help kids see the best in themselves,” Jennifer said. “It’s a big responsibility to be a teacher, but it gives me greater purpose.”

Jennifer, a Las Vegas native and McKay School alumni, is currently preparing for her first post-graduation teaching job, at Noah Webster Academy in Orem. She has found that her years in the McKay School have helped to prepare her for her career. “The classes we took prepared me to teach the content, manage a classroom, assess the progress of students, and consistently reflect upon and improve my own abilities as a teacher,” Jennifer said. “The most practical preparation that I received was from experiences in the practice, as well as classes that had us practicing skills in actual classrooms.”

One of the classes Jennifer found particularly helpful was math education. She said she enjoyed learning how children understand math and how to help children discover math for themselves. She discovered that she preferred to teach the middle grades, as students are still anxious to learn at that age, and, for the most part, are still doing the right things for the right reasons.

Along with classes and student teaching, Jennifer had the experience of participating on the McKay student alumni committee, discovering the support and help available through the alumni association. “It was good to see that there were people who cared what would happen to me after I left,” Jennifer said. “I didn’t really realize that we had an alumni association that still tried to do a lot for the people who had already graduated.”

Jennifer had a taste of that support and encouragement from several mentors during her time with the McKay School. “Many of the mentor teachers and clinical faculty associates (CFAs) I had were excellent supports in answering the day-to-day concerns,” she said. “They helped me improve a lot by helping me reflect and giving feedback in a positive and encouraging way.”

Grateful to have found her passion for teaching, Jennifer encourages others who are considering studying education to use real life experiences to determine if teaching is the path they should follow. “Find out if it’s something that you would enjoy; volunteer in classrooms or talk to teachers to find out more about what it’s like,” Jennifer said. “Decide if it sounds like something you would enjoy pursuing.”

Jennifer’s experiences with the McKay School prepared her for a successful career in teaching. She will be able to draw on not only the skills she has learned, but also the relationships she has developed with mentors and the alumni association as she begins this new chapter in her life.

July 11, 2012