As a freshman in 2011-12, Sasha enrolled in the Thinking About Teaching FIG. She first learned about FIGs from the Big FIG Book, and actually snagged the last spot available in her FIG! “The structure and schedule of the FIG in the first term was helpful to get and keep me on track,” Sasha said. Her FA brought in an academic advisor to talk about the EDST major, which gave Sasha a template of scheduling for future terms. Because of the academic advising session, she learned that she had to take an EDST and science class each term in order to stay on track for graduation.
After Sasha’s FA recommended her to apply for the FA position, Sasha was hired as the FA for the same FIG. Working as an FA gave Sasha some unique experiences in preparing for her role as a teacher. For example, as an FA, Sasha had ample independence in designing a syllabus, creating assignments, and arranging meetings with students and FIG faculty. These experiences directly prepared her for student-teaching.
She also had to adjust to balancing organization with creativity – skills that are essential in a teaching role. She cites Amy Hughes-Giard, Director of First-Year Programs, as being crucial to providing support and guidance throughout her role as an FA. Overall, the experience of being an FA helped Sasha build confidence in a leadership position; she felt more comfortable in building syllabi, arranging meetings with faculty/students, and working with students in the classroom. It was a phenomenal experience for a future full-time teacher.
Sasha’s work as an FA also connected her to another program on campus: Opportunities. She worked with this program for several years as a Student Representative, talking to high school students around Oregon about college, financial aid, and FIGs. These experiences with Opportunities and FIGs were especially helpful in developing Sasha’s public speaking skills. The FIG Program emphasizes connections with other university programs and many FAs, like Sasha, play key roles in multiple other programs on campus. This only strengthens the network of FAs, who then pass on their expertise to their FIG students.
Today, nearly a year after graduation, Sasha is currently wrapping up her first year teaching at Edison Elementary School in Eugene. She describes her first year of teaching as being hectic but wonderful. “It's definitely not what I expected,” she said, “but I look forward to years of learning how to be the best teacher I can be.” The FIG Program is proud to have had such an outstanding teacher and person work as an FA. Students like Sasha are what make the program unique and a success!