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May 14, 2018
By Hannah Brod, media relations assistant
As a new graduate of Northwest Missouri State University Lauren Russell is launching her career as a professional teacher – and she’ll be an advocate for the University because of the valuable experience she gained.
Russell, of Linn County, Missouri, earned her bachelor’s degree this spring in elementary education. In the fall, she will begin her professional career in the Liberty Public School District.
“Everywhere I go in education, I proudly tell people that I am a Northwest Bearcat,” Russell said. “Bearcats have a great reputation among school districts because we have such a successful, qualified, educator preparation program.”
As an undergraduate student at Northwest, Russell enjoyed the variety of profession-based experience provided in the School of Education, including travel opportunities that furthered her knowledge and cultural perspectives.
She traveled in March 2017 with faculty, staff and students in the Northwest’s School of Education to Italy, where the group toured early childhood centers, preschools, and primary schools to study the Reggio Emilia Approach to preschool and primary education.
“We attended seminars and conferences from experts in the area alongside other educators from all over the world,” Russell said. “I now feel so passionate about children’s rights and have definitely become a stronger advocate and educator for children. I also developed a strong relationship and friendship with the professors, teachers and other students I traveled with. We developed an unbreakable bond, tied together through our cultural shift and emotional experience of how extraordinary children really are.”
Russell also took advantage of an opportunity to visit Riverfield Country Day School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which models the Reggio Approach.
“I have always been one to jump at opportunities that will help me be a lifelong learner and professionally develop me as an educator, especially if it involves travel and experiencing new parts of the world,” Russell said.
At Northwest, Russell was involved with Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, Hermes Honor Society, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She also worked as a substitute teacher at Eugene Field Elementary School in Maryville.
“Substitute teaching at Eugene Field is where I credit most of my educational learning experiences,” Russell said. “I learned so much from the staff and children there. I was welcomed with open arms and readily filled any position in which I was needed.”
Eugene Field gave Russell plenty of experience as she taught nearly every age between preschool and high school during two years as a substitute teacher, in addition to occasional work in special education, as a para-professional, and even working lunch duty.
Russell also was lucky to receive a long-term substitute teaching position in kindergarten during a maternity leave.
“I fully got to build a relationship and watch the progress of eager learners day after day,” Russell said. “Being a substitute teacher really allowed me to find myself as an educator. I got to dabble in many different management strategies, curriculum and teaching philosophies. It taught me flexibility and being able to step back and really observe how children learn best.”
Looking back on her time at Northwest, Russell said she remembers coming to Northwest for the first time and falling in love with the beautiful campus and friendly people.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely choose Northwest again and again,” Russell said.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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