By John Grennan
As a student in the “Teachers for Tomorrow” program, senior Marie Conner is doing everything she can to prepare herself for life in the 21st-century California classroom.
After graduating next May, she’ll stay at Saint Mary’s one more year to earn a master’s degree in education and her California credential. Through her liberal and civic studies major, she’s already worked as a grade school teaching assistant and loves to be around children.
“I definitely want to instill a love of learning,” says Conner, a recipient of the Hearst scholarship. “To show that it’s not something that you have to do, but something that’s a joy to do.”
She’s particularly interested in teaching students from lower-income backgrounds. During January Term, Conner worked with education professor Don Phelps at Cambridge Elementary in Concord, where 90 percent of the students speak Spanish as their first language.
In preparing to teach to California’s ever-changing population, Conner is minoring in Spanish, and she spent a semester perfecting her language skills in Cuervnavaca, Mexico.
“We really encouraged her to study abroad,” says Spanish professor Lori Spicher. “It’s great that she’s mastered Spanish, especially in order to be able to talk to the parents of her students.”
Conner is a member of the faith- and service-oriented Santiago Community and also served as a leader of Mission and Ministry Office’s freshman retreat. She’s been instrumental in organizing Xalt!, a student group that explores topics in Roman Catholicism.
“Marie’s very active in her faith and seeks out others to share that,” says Brother Michael Sanderl.