January 2022 – Samantha Strathern C’20, G’21 knows a thing or two about saving time and money.
Strathern is a recent alum of Drew’s Teaching Dual-Degree program—earning her bachelor’s degree from Drew University and her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) from Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies in only five years.
Students participating in the 4+1 Teaching Dual-Degree program can dual enroll in graduate courses during their junior or senior year, providing a significant head start toward completing their master’s degree—and a savings on the corresponding cost.
“The 4+1 MAT program offers Drew undergrads the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the classroom,” said Kristen Turner, program director and professor of teacher education.
“Drew undergraduates are able to take graduate level coursework that counts toward both the bachelor’s and the master’s degrees. Our small cohorts mean that we cultivate individual teachers through a supportive network and hands-on mentoring.”
We spoke with Strathern on how the program prepared her to lead her own art classroom at Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson, New Jersey—one year ahead of the typical graduate timeline.
What were the deciding factors in participating in the 4+1 MAT Dual-Degree Program?
Being able to complete my master’s degree in one year rather than two assisted with the financial and timing aspects of my education, especially being a first-generation college student. Plus, I knew I was receiving a high-quality education from the faculty in Drew’s teacher education program. My education-related experiences as an undergraduate—guest speakers, school visits, talking with teachers—all helped to solidify my choice to become a teacher.
How did Drew prepare you to become an educator?
The individualized learning I received in every class, including classes dedicated to learning methods of teaching within my field of art, helped me to become an educator by giving me tools and resources in the context of art education. Classes on equity and inclusion helped me to become an educator who can teach diverse populations of students and ensure that I am making my classroom a safe environment for all students. Drew provided experiential learning, giving me first-hand experience in working in a classroom.
Can you describe your experiential learning experience and how it benefitted you in your classroom?
My experience as a student-teacher at West Morris Mendham High School in New Jersey undoubtedly gave me integral experience working in a classroom setting. I was placed in a high school art class where I was surrounded by excellent role models. I started by co-teaching lessons with my mentor teacher, then developed my own lessons to be co-taught. Finally, I began developing and leading lessons for three classes. This was the pinnacle experience throughout the program for me because I was able to experience being a teacher firsthand, which helped me have a deeper understanding of what it meant to me.
Learn more about Drew’s extensive Dual-Degree offering here.
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