Katelyn Rush ’17 is a Jefferson City, Missouri, native, a Westminster College softball coach and a fifth-grade teacher. This fall, she began her third year at East Elementary with a new moniker: Railton New Professional of the Year. Open to any Jefferson City School District educator in her first three years of teaching, the award is funded by the trust of Mrs. Billie Railton and presented to 10 teachers per year by the Jefferson City Public Schools Foundation.
“I am very grateful for the award because it is something I have been striving for since my first year of teaching,” Rush said. “My goal is to be a difference maker in my students’ lives.”
Rush earned her Bachelor of Science in Education at Stephens College and her master’s in curriculum and instruction at William Woods University. She said that Stephens’ emphasis on integrating the arts into the classroom has make a big impact on her teaching.
“Students are truly engaged when you make their learning fun and hands-on, so I have loved getting to incorporate art in my own classroom, which I believe has helped me be more successful as a teacher,” she said.
Rush also appreciates the opportunity Stephens gave her to be in the elementary classroom from freshman year forward. In her sophomore year, Rush taught PE on her own to students at The Children’s School at Stephens College (CSSC), Stephens’ on-campus lab school. And, she said, the integration of grade levels at CSSC gave her the confidence to teach any grade.
“Throughout college, I always thought I would be a first-grade teacher, but after graduating I was offered a fifth-grade position, and I would have it no other way,” Rush said.
For Rush, the most valuable part of being a teacher is the relationships she forms with students, not only in her class, but in the whole school.
“These kids need someone in their corner,” she said. “Someone to love them unconditionally—and I get to provide that for them.”
Beth Crittenden Watson ’04, director of CSSC and a graduate of the Stephens undergraduate education program, said that Rush has always been a leader in the classroom and among her peers.
“When faced with a mandated curriculum her first year of teaching, Katelyn took the time and used her creativity to implement the arts into her lessons,” Watson said. “Because of her passion for teaching in a way that connects to her students, she has created a strong community within her classroom.”
Community, for Rush, is what teaching is all about.
“Throughout my career I hope to help students become the best people they can be,” she said. “I want them to realize that school is not forever, and all these skills they are learning will help them become amazing adults.”
Rush’s commitment to supporting students goes beyond the school walls. “Any student who comes through my classroom will be considered one of my students forever. I may not be their fifth-grade teacher anymore, but I will always be there for them whenever it’s needed.”
About the Bachelor of Science in Education at Stephens College
Stephens offers a four-year degree and an accelerated three-year, six-semester degree in education, with dual certifications in early childhood and elementary education. With its on-campus, multi-age lab school and partnerships with local schools, the program provides a student with 400 hours of classroom time by the end of junior year. The faculty place a heavy emphasis on integrating science and the arts into daily lessons.
Tags : Alumnae Achievement, School of Creative & Performing Arts, Education
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