Alumna Spotlight: Bethany Acker
Bethany Acker graduated Magna Cum Laude in May 2013, but she still goes to school every day.
That’s because Acker, a recent Shippensburg University alumna, is an eighth-grade English teacher at Midd-West High School in rural Snyder County ing Pennsylvania.
“The day I graduated is the day I got the call,” Acker explained.Her current employer called her for an interview while she was still dressed in her cap and gown. After earning her position, the Joseph W. McCray Scholarship recipient reflected on how her education at SU helped her land the job.
“We were very fortunate in that I had a lot of resources before I even started student teaching.”
Acker said that SU’s advisers were involved with her and other English/ secondary education students while they created portfolios pre-graduation. The mock portfolio was graded for Acker’s methods course, but when updated was turned into material for her actual portfolio.
Secondary education students use their portfolios with job applications — and preparation before graduation made the entire process a lot easier for Acker.
“I think that’s key — to apply for jobs while you’re still in school that last semester. Constantly apply,” Acker said.
This tactic might be crucial, according to reports from a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey that estimated an 8.4 percent hiring rate for 2013 grads, a steady decrease in the past three years.
Then, consider what one Lehigh Valley newspaper reported: At least 4,200 teaching layoffs occurred in 2012–13.
As for her position, Acker credits her education and persistence.
“It is possible to get a job. You just have to work hard.”
The SU alumna teaches six classes, with 25–30 students in each class. She monitors a study hall in which she is able to meet one-on-one with students who want extra help and she works with an upperclassmen yearbook class.
“My principal and superintendent are, I think, pretty impressed with how I’m doing,” Acker said.
She attributes this to how SU prepared her for her teaching career.
“I always want to write thank you notes to my professor. I do feel really prepared. I know more than they [the students] expect me to know, and when it came to actually teaching the content I was 100 percent prepared.”
What does Acker see for herself in the future?“I really do like teaching eighth grade. I would never write-off teaching other grades. I like change, and I really want to keep moving and keep progressing more,” Acker said of her future at Midd-West.
As for her personal education, Acker plans to pursue her master’s degree as soon as next year.
“I don’t think I want to be a teacher forever,” Acker said. She wants to continue work with education, but not necessarily in the classroom.
“I want to go further, help further,” Acker said.
For now, teaching keeps Acker busy and satisfied.
“They [the students] really challenge me on a daily basis, but I think that’s a good thing because I feel like every day I try a new technique, and you keep going until you find something that works. In the end, I’ll be all right.”