Alumni Q&A: Haylee Rethman ’14, Language Arts Teacher
Haylee Rethman ’14 (AΓΔ)
Campus affiliations and activities while at Westminster
The Columns, Alpha Gamma Delta, Blue Jay Buddies, Education Association, Kappa Delta Pi, Sigma Tau Delta, Sigma Delta Pi, Alpha Mu Gamma, JANUS
What other degrees do you hold?
Master of Education in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum from the University of Missouri (Teaching Fellows Program)
What is your current career position?
7th grade Language Arts teacher at Lewis and Clark Middle School (Jefferson City, MO)
First, I teach people; then, I teach content.
What organizations are you involved in?
I’ve been involved in the Missouri Writing Project for the past two summers. That has been such a rewarding experience. It is wonderful to collaborate with other teachers who see the value in education, literacy and growing personally and as a professional by building a professional learning community of educators.
Coaching volleyball this year has been significant and invaluable to me. It’s very rewarding building relationships with athletes outside of the classroom, helping them grow on the court and off, seeing their progress every day, and instilling a love of volleyball in them that I share.
Writing club has also been a great way for me to build other relationships with my own students and students that I don’t see in my classes. It’s also a time that I can set aside to just write a few times a month, which is always therapeutic for me.
What role did Westminster play in leading you to your current position/studies?
I don’t think I would have gotten the same unique, useful, and inspiring undergraduate experience anywhere else other than Westminster. When it comes to my Education degree, compared to other college education programs, I am certain that I had many more real-world, hands-on, and technical opportunities for experiences to put the theoretical perspectives and research that I learned into practice.
What do you consider your greatest success?
I have been very fortunate the past two years in my school and district to be involved in curriculum writing, leading professional development sessions, and attending conferences to promote my own learning as a teacher. I am most proud of helping with the application process to help my school win two national Promising Practice awards from Character.org, a leading organization in teaching positive character traits. Last October, I attended the National Character Conference in Washington, D.C. with a colleague and my principal to be recognized for winning these awards.
I was also recently honored to receive an award for being an Outstanding Beginning Educator from the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. This award was one that only 59 new teachers within their first two years of teaching received out of about 8,000 total new teachers certified in the state of Missouri in the past two years.
What are your future goals?
In the future, I would like to go back to school to get my doctorate, either in administration or education, in order to be a principal somewhere or teach college students how to be successful teachers.
Do you recommend Westminster to prospective college students?
Yes. A thousand times yes. The reason it appealed to me was the personal, authentic, and homey feeling that I got when I first set foot on campus. There is something about being a name and not a number that was very valuable to me. And despite being a small school, they still provide every opportunity for young adults to grow, network, learn, and flourish.
It was because of the personal, “at-home” feeling of love and support I got from those around me at Westminster that I was able to become as well-rounded as I am now. I truly believe that it was because of Westminster that I have become a “critically aware, life-long learner and leader of character,” who is “committed to the values of integrity, fairness, respect, and responsibility;” and Westminster has prepared me for a life of “success, significance, and service.”
Favorite Westminster faculty member?
Honestly, there are too many great faculty members to name just one “favorite.” I learned something very valuable from each faculty member with whom I had a class (and even some things from faculty/staff that I did not). Some of the most influential people from my college experience at Westminster have been: Bob Cowles, Cinnamon Brown, Keith Hardeman, Barri Bumgarner, Sue Serota, Jim Concannon, Tracey Braden, and Maureen Tuthill, and a few who are no longer at Westminster.
I had such a great experience at Westminster and found so much support and enlightenment from each of these people. Those authentic relationships that we built together are the crucial piece to any life-changing educational experience.
Favorite spot on campus?
There is a really nice little place in Coulter Science Center at the end of one of the science hallways with large open windows and couches. During sunny days, that was one of my favorite places to go to study, read, or relax, just because it was quiet, bright, and warm.
Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
Reading, cleaning my house, watching Netflix, arts and crafts. In general, my favorite way to spend a Sunday is doing whatever it is that will relax me and put my mind in the right state for the upcoming week.