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Emily McDonald '19 Headshot

Undergraduate Program

Emily McDonald '19

Elementary Education

Education alumna grateful for connections

Emily McDonald ’19 is a first-year teacher. McDonald enjoyed her time at Mount Mercy and is grateful for the connections she made while she was in college, some of which have already helped her in her career.

MMU: What attracted you to Mount Mercy’s education program?

EM: I was originally drawn to Mount Mercy’s education program because I liked the idea of having smaller class sizes. I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids and was happy I could go to a college that was only a five-minute drive from home I knew I wanted a program with strong early childhood courses, and my advisor at Kirkwood had mentioned MMU had a great program.

MMU: In what ways did Mount Mercy prepare you to enter the field with confidence?

EM: The math methods, social studies methods, and science methods courses I took have aligned well with the direction the district I am working for is going in. The way the district wants us to teach has lined up with Mount Mercy’s instruction. There are so many things to learn the first few years of teaching, so it is comforting to be able to rely on what I had done during field experiences and student teaching.

MMU: Is there any one moment or memory that stands out to you from your time as an MMU student? What impact has MMU had on your career and life?

EM: One field placement and one student teaching placement stick out in my mind. I think both experiences really shaped who I became as a person and as a teacher. I was placed with two cooperating teachers who were very supportive and gave me the freedom to try new things. As much as Mount Mercy prepares you for managing the social and emotional needs of students, seeing those needs in action is completely different. Both teachers I worked with in those placements taught me a lot of great strategies for managing a classroom in a positive way. I became much more confident in my skills during those two placements. And I still touch base with them and other staff members.

I think both experiences really shaped who I became as a person and as a teacher.

Emily McDonald '19
Elementary Education

MMU: Did you participate in any activities outside of the classroom while at Mount Mercy? Did you learn any skills or make any connections that have helped you with your career?

EM: I was selected by professors to sit in on a committee that gathers with school leaders and teachers in the surrounding school districts to talk about MMU’s vision for their education program. As someone who was looking for their first job, the connections that I made as a part of that committee were very valuable.

"As someone who was looking for their first job, the connections that I made as a part of that committee were very valuable."

MMU: If you could give Mount Mercy students who are starting the education program a piece of advice, what would it be?

EM: Keep going! The program was very rigorous, but it really did prepare me for lesson planning and working with curriculum. It also helped me learn to communicate with families in a positive, well informed, and effective manner. Finally, the connections I made during my time in Mount Mercy’s education program are what helped me get the job I have now. Go above and beyond what you are asked to do during field placements and student teaching. Principals and school administration notice people who take the extra steps.

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