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2017 Alum: Koree Stockwell, Stephanie McVeigh, and Tameika Heathman during their internship with the Historical Journal of Massachusetts.
Stephanie McVeigh, WSU 2017
High School Teacher, Central H.S., Springfield, MA
After graduating from Westfield State, I was hired by Springfield Central High School. Since there were no openings in the History Department there, the administration asked if I would be willing to take the English MTEL and teach ELA until a History position became available. In June of 2017, I took and passed the English MTEL, and was then hired as a Grade 9 ELA teacher. I was hesitant to switch disciplines, because History is the subject I am most passionate about, but I could not pass up the offer to teach at Central High School. I completed my student teaching there, under the mentorship of Caitlin Welz (another Westfield Alum), and could not have asked for a better, more positive experience. Although teaching five sections of freshmen is a huge challenge, I am thankful for the experience and opportunities I have been given through this job. Next year, I will be able to switch into the History Department at Central. After getting settled in my new position, I plan to return to Westfield State for the History Education Graduate Program (M.Ed)
What did your WSU history degree/ courses mean to you? I absolutely loved the WSU History Department and I feel like being a part of this campus group prepared me most for what life would be like as a high school educator. Though I am teaching out of discipline, I still rely on a lot of the content I was exposed to in order to contextualize the texts we analyze in ELA for my students. In addition, the Historical Research and Analysis course proved to be especially helpful in developing my writing skills, which in turn prepared me to be a better writing mentor for my students.
There are a few specific examples from my connection to the WSU History Department that especially helped me become a better teacher. My time editing on the Historical Journal of Massachusetts, under the leadership of Dr. Dodge, helped my grammar and editing skills, so that I can better edit and perfect student work. In addition to this, I took the lecture workshops offered by Dr. Morin, which allowed us to practice curriculum mapping and structuring lessons and lectures. These added workshops, in addition to Dr. Aieta’s The History Teacher and Methods of Teaching History class, really helped prepare me for the tasks required of a high school educator.
Why major in History at Westfield State? As a commuter student, it was difficult at first to find a place on campus to fit into. It was not until my Junior year, when I started taking my major requirements within the History Department, that I finally felt like I found that place. I became very close to my fellow History Ed peers, and had such a positive experience with nearly every faculty member I took a course from. Faculty were always helpful in and out of class, and they seemed more personally invested in your achievement. Although the Education Department as Westfield is well-known, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle of all those elementary and early education majors. In contrast, the History Department is closer-knit and more personal, which is extremely helpful and welcoming during these critical years of undergraduate school.
Though I have always enjoyed history, it was not until I started my coursework at Westfield State that I discovered its significance and relevance in today’s society. I learned how to be critical and analytical, and how much discovery and learning there still is to do within the discipline.
What were your proudest accomplishments or best moments as a history major? I have many fond memories. The first one that comes to mind is completing my 30-page Research Paper for the Historical Research & Analysis course. Another fond memory was being chosen to work alongside my peer, Koree Stockwell, through an internship at the Historical Journal of Massachusetts. Lastly, I enjoyed being a member of the History Club and organizing campus events and activities during senior year at WSU.