From her first experience abroad as a student ambassador in Australia, Rachel Bartee ‘12 understood that experiencing other cultures allowed her to embrace a world vastly different from her comfortable Mt. Airy, Md., upbringing. When she returned stateside, she wanted to find a way to explore new horizons. What transformed her goals of world travel into elementary education she happily credits to lacrosse and “a couple of brilliant and inspirational professors” at Washington College.
Growing up as the “kid sister” in a closely-knit family including her older brother and three cousins in the neighborhood, she hung out with them and picked up lacrosse when they did (she was five at the time). When her two older cousins (E.J. Lewis ‘09 and Michael Lewis ‘10) chose Washington College to study and play lacrosse, Rachel followed suit. That turned out to be a real boon for the Shorewomen, as she was the second-leading scorer and voted MVP of the squad in 2011.
Rachel was unsure of her choice of major after freshman year, but when she reflected on her previous summer as a lacrosse camp counselor, she thought of a career in teaching. Drawn to the youngest participants, she recalls “I felt I had something to impart, a sense of inclusion, of wonder at the world. I thought about the way I was raised to accept everyone and to question everything. Third-to-fifth grade children are at the age where they don’t judge but are openly curious.”
Rachel credits her professors in Human Development and Elementary Education—notably Michelle Johnson, Bridget Bunten and Robert Siudzinski—with instilling a tremendous confidence in her abilities and encouraging her interest in teaching. She spent a semester making bi-weekly visits to Sudlersville Elementary and keeping a journal of her observations. At the end of her sophomore year, she had a seminal meeting with Johnson and Bunten that charted her course of study in the human development major, leading to certification in elementary education. As a student teacher, she’ll be in the classroom two days a week during the fall semester and will teach full-time in the spring, somewhere in Kent or Queen Anne’s counties.
She says, “I believe teaching is a way of opening a child’s mind and giving them their own voice. Teaching isn’t about test scores or grades, it is about inspiring children to continue to learn and strive to reach their full potential. In 10 years my answer to this question could possibly change, and that is the beautiful thing about teaching—not only are you teaching others, you are constantly learning from them.”
Major: Human Development
Elementary Education Certification