For as long as Jessie Taylor ‘20 can remember, she wanted to be an engineer.
Or so she thought.
Her father, who is an engineer, had told her that engineering may not be exactly what she would expect. And he was right. By her sophomore year at NC State, Taylor was ready to change her major.
“I wanted a hands-on engineering experience. I excelled in math through elementary and high school, but I wanted more than that in my engineering classes,” Taylor said. “I conducted research on other majors at NC State in hopes that I would find something more along the lines of what I was looking for.”
And she found where she belonged: the NC State College of Education’s Technology, Engineering, and Design Education program.
Through the program, Taylor has learned a variety of subjects and gained a number of skills in areas such as graphic design, 3D modeling, architecture, electronics, robotics and materials processing.
“It is the hands-on learning experience I was expecting to have when I started in engineering,” she said. “I also realized I was not given the opportunity before college to take technology-related courses that would prepare me to be an engineering major. As an educator, I can provide other students the opportunity to take these types of classes so that they may be prepared for whatever path they choose to take. I am excited to use my knowledge and experiences to prepare students for college and their careers.”
Taylor has had the opportunity to work hands-on with students in middle and high school classrooms. Early on in her studies, Taylor was placed in a high school classroom, where she says she learned that there are different ways to teach students and manage a classroom.
“I really enjoyed being able to gain field experiences as early as sophomore year. I think it is an amazing opportunity to see a real classroom from a perspective other than a student that early in your professional career,” she said.
Taylor went into a middle school for her second placement, where she observed a lot of teacher-student interaction and more guided work that students found meaningful. She never wanted to teach middle school, but through that experience, she is now more open to the idea.
“I was able to teach my own lesson to one of the classes. This was my first time teaching in front of students that were not my peers,” Taylor said. “I learned that I would be more comfortable teaching middle school than I thought I would ever be.”
Taylor also gained experience in a high school graphic design course, where she saw firsthand how the relationship a teacher has with their students can really make a difference in the quality of their classes.
The variety of field experiences have helped prepare Taylor as a future teacher by allowing her to observe broad classroom management styles, different subjects and ages.
“The College of Education and NC State have prepared me for an education career far beyond what I could have ever imagined,” Taylor said. “I am not only prepared with pedagogical knowledge and new skills, but I know I have a lifelong support system and family that I can always call on for advice.”
Taylor will complete her student teaching at Mount Pleasant Middle School in Cabarrus County — one of the college’s district partners facing a teacher shortage as part of the NC State Education Scholars program. As an NC State Education Scholar, Taylor will receive a $10,000 financial award if she teaches for at least two years in Cabarrus County after completing her student teaching there and graduating.
“My field experiences have prepared me for student teaching by giving me plenty of opportunities to become comfortable in a classroom setting,” she said. “I feel less nervous to teach because I have had three previous experiences in three different classrooms.”