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#WhyIChoseEducation: ‘I Want Students Not Only to Be Proficient Readers but to Enjoy Reading and Learning,’ Says Courtney Weathers ‘21

When Courtney Weathers ‘21 was in high school, she interned for a literacy nonprofit in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she realized many of the students weren’t able to read the donated books they received.

That experience inspired her to major in elementary education at NC State’s College of Education and learn the best practices in literacy instruction, so she could help all students become independent, confident readers.

“I chose elementary education because of how important it is to be a proficient reader by third grade,” Weathers said. “Building confidence in young readers sets the stage for the rest of their lives. I want students not only to be proficient readers but to enjoy reading and learning.”

At the NC State College of Education, Weathers found an environment that felt like a family and was able to develop close relationships with her professors while learning effective teaching practices. 

Her experience as an undergraduate research assistant confirmed her desire to attend graduate school and led her to return to the NC State College of Education, where she is now pursuing her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: New Literacies and Global Learning (K12 Reading). For Weathers, who is now working on two projects that are researching the most effective practices for teaching expository text comprehension, it couldn’t be a better fit.

“I love that I am able to work with some of my professors in both a classroom and research setting,” Weathers said. “I am supporting a meta-analysis project by reading and coding existing literature about interventions for expository text comprehension, and it is exciting when I can apply what I’m learning to my class projects. I plan to tie my research work in with our program’s creative synthesis project.”

Through her work, Weathers hopes to continue her goal of improving literacy education and ensuring all children have the opportunity to become successful readers. 

Why I Chose Education:

I chose education specifically because of the inequities in literacy education. I was introduced to these staggering statistics when I interned for a Charlotte literacy nonprofit while in high school. We collected donations and delivered books to schools in the Charlotte book desert, but most of the students weren’t able to read the books that we provided. I decided that I wanted to learn the best practices for literacy instruction. I really enjoy teaching reading and love to see students become independent, confident readers. 

How Education Has Shaped You:

I love being a student, so I hope to inspire a love of learning and literacy in my students. As a student, I have found my passion for equitable literacy education. As a teacher, I have become curious about new topics and learning about what my students love. I deeply value education and the role that a passionate educator can play in a student’s life!

What I Enjoyed Most About Being Part of the College of Education:

There are so many opportunities for growth. My experience as an undergraduate research assistant solidified my decision to attend graduate school, and it led me to new research opportunities. I am also thankful for my experience as the President of the Elementary Education Organization which influenced my decision to apply as a Graduate School Ambassador this year. These experiences, in addition to support from faculty and peers, have molded me into a confident leader and educator. 

What Others Should Know About the NC State College of Education:

The College of Education feels like a family! I love that you often take classes with professors more than once, so you develop close relationships with them. Our professors model effective elementary teaching practices, so there is a lot of social-emotional learning involved. They truly care about the mental health of their students and are very accommodating. 

The Last Thing I Experienced That Inspired Me:

I am inspired by a student that I currently work with. At the beginning of our reading tutoring, he told me that he hates reading and is embarrassed when he has to read in front of his class. Despite his feelings, he tries his hardest every session. Performing a skill in front of others that you are insecure about puts you in a very vulnerable position. It takes courage and dedication to overcome those feelings about reading!