Across the Street: Exploring the Education Department

by Alex Melnick
arts & life editor

Millsaps students see teachers a lot. I know this seems fairly obvious, but consider it: We talk to teachers a lot. The majority of our day is spent with professors in some capacity. They dictate what we’ll be thinking about during much of the day. Professors are indeed powerful and fearsome beings.  However, no matter how mighty a professor seems right now, or how intense you recall past teachers being, remember that at one point they were all kinda weird undergraduates too.

     As a kinda weird undergraduate, I would honestly guess I spend most of my time with the faculty here on this campus, and I made peace with that a long time ago. I would call my professors first in cases of moral or emotional crisis. (Not so much physical. They’re not that kind of doctor.)

     I have the sometimes misguided belief that professors are noble, terrifying and mystical creatures that may or may not have the key to the universe. They say knowledge is power, after all. And Millsaps’ education department doesprove that cliché old.

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Ms. Lambert & her boyfriend, Ken.

     Our school houses an amazing education department that affords its majors and minors the chance to teach in local schools and tutoring centers. I would argue that education majors may be one of our campus’s most vital and enduring connections with Midtown and the greater Jackson area.  To delve deeper into the Jackson school system and the extent of our campus’s relation to it, I interviewed Corissa Lambert, a junior history major and education minor, as well as a Kappa Delta sister and a valued member to Amnesty International. Lambert is currently on her way to achieving her more powerful final form as a high school history teacher.

     Purple &White:  Could you elaborate about your work in the Jackson community?

     Corissa Lambert: I work at the Bethlehem Center as a tutor, and I work with kids from kindergarten to the fifth grade. {Editor’s Note: The Bethlehem Center is a nonprofit community center in Midtown that serves the community via tutoring, affordable child care and other family-oriented services.} I think it’s a really good start for me, even though I want to teach high school eventually. It teaches me a lot of really good classroom management skills that I’m going to need in the future.

     P&W: What is it like working with the children at the Bethlehem Center? I remember you always had funny stories when you came home from work last year.

     CL: I’ve been working there two years, and there are kids I’ve really seen an improvement in. I really like it. I worked with one specific kid all last semester on reading, I really enjoyed that. The kids are really cute. Today one of the kids showed me his notebook, and he wrote “I love Emerald” on it. Emerald is one of the girls in his class, and it was just really cool that they trusted me enough to do that.

      P&W: What really stood out you about the experience?

     CL: I once had to teach a kid how to count. He was seven.  I noticed that he was doing really poorly on his math, but well on everything else. I started paying attention to him whenever he did math and I realized he was counting his numbers on his chin! He would get them wrong too. I taught him another way to count, and now he’s a pro at it.

     P&W: How long have you been working there?

     CL: Two years at Bethlehem Center, and last semester I had my first education class at Brown Elementary. This semester I’m actually going to start doing “Placement,” which means I’m going to start being in a high school history classroom. I’ll be at Madison Central High School, in Ms. Cook’s classroom. I’m not sure what grade yet. Basically, I’ll be grading assignments, and tests, and viewing lectures. If the teacher wants me to, I can actually teach a class.

     P&W: What do you enjoy about our education department?

     CL: I like everything about our education department! It’s great practice. They make you do hours of class-time for every Millsaps education class you are in. That really gets you prepared for when you leave college and are a first year teacher. You then actually know what to do.P&W: What education classes are you taking right now?

     CL: I’m in a classroom management/implementation/design course right now. We’re learning how to plan a lesson plan, and I’m learning what’s good and bad about each approach to lesson plans. I think at the end of the semester I have to create my own. That’s going to help me a lot.

     P&W:  One last question: What do the kids you teach call you?

     CL: Haha, they call me “Ms. Corissa.” At the high school, they’re going to call me “Ms. Lambert.” It’s a change, but I think I can get used to it.