MAT Students Present Capstone Projects

On March 5 six teacher candidates in the Master of Arts in Teaching program presented their capstone projects. These projects precede student teaching, a 13 week experience in one classroom where candidates gradually take on more responsibility. The capstone itself is a multi-part project consisting of rigorous research, practical application, and goal setting.

Candidates who presented this year included Andrea Lauritsen [not pictured] and from left right, Spenser Heaton, Chris Thrift, Bryana Hoffman, Lauren Laughlin, and David Wellnitz. With the exception of Mr. Wellnitz, who will student teach in a middle level humanities classroom, all candidates will continue their studies in elementary schools.

Of the cohort, the Master’s Capstone course instructor, Dr. Jeana M. Hrepich said, in her opening remarks, “As I have listened to them talk and write about what brought them to teaching and why they stay, I am reminded of something master teacher Parker Palmer says, ‘Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.’ Bryana worked with preschoolers for years before she came to our program. Spenser, too, worked with kids in after school and postgraduate programs. Chris, after a hard experience in a school years ago, quieted a voice inside him calling him to teach until it was too loud to ignore. Lauren has been a teaching artist for decades. David, a lifelong songwriter, has been teaching formally and informally, too. And Andrea has been working with kids for a number of years as well. Each of tonight’s teacher candidates listened to their life telling them what to do.”

This year’s candidates presented topics that were varied but related. Ms. Lauritsen reflected on her experiences in Tukwila schools in writing about culturally responsive pedagogies. Mr. Heaton described the powerful results of students interconnecting project based learning with mindfulness. Ms. Hoffman focused on practices for literacy engagement that lead to lifelong learning. Mr. Wellnitz presented on 21st-century-and-beyond participatory technologies and their vital role in classrooms. Ms. Laughlin expressed the need and benefits of art integration in the general classroom for all students. Mt. Thrift shared how classroom management and classroom environment are closely related to student success. Everyone’s work was learner-centered and imbued with constructivist theory.   

At the end of the night candidates discussed questions from the audience and enjoyed the festivities with faculty, family, and each other. Everyone is thrilled to begin work in their student teaching classrooms!

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