Education Major Finishes 2 Degrees (Plus Certificate) & Co-Writes Book Chapter While Beginning Teaching Career

Alexis Teitelbaum graduated from Seton Hill University with a bachelor's in elementary education with special education in 2020. In 2021, she graduated from Seton Hill again - with a master's and a certificate in education. Alexis is now collaborating with former classmate Mercedes Holets on a book chapter while she works as a substitute teacher at Allegheny Valley School District. Somehow, she also found the time to answer a few questions about her Seton Hill experience.

Why did you decide to major in education?  

I've known since I was in second or third grade that I wanted to be a teacher. I had such an admiration for my own teachers. As I got older, I loved working with kids, and the feeling of helping someone learn something new. So the decision to major in education was an easy one.

What drew you to Seton Hill University for your undergraduate degree?

I first toured Seton Hill the summer before my senior year of high school. I was immediately drawn to its small size, beautiful campus and welcoming faculty. It felt like home to me from the very beginning. I had the sense right away that it was where I would end up.

Why did you decide to continue your education in Seton Hill’s Graduate Education Program?

I always knew that I wanted to continue my education in graduate school. I learned about Seton Hill's new master's degree in innovative instruction during my freshman year. It seemed like a unique program that complemented what I'd learned during my undergraduate career while also adding a whole new area of learning. 

What difference do you think getting your master’s in innovative instruction made in your career?

I had no idea how relevant and valuable a background in educational technology and 21st century learning skills would become until schools went remote in 2020! The pandemic caused an enormous shift in teaching right before I began the master’s program. I was at an advantage when it came to adapting instruction for virtual learners and creating engaging remote lessons because of the courses that I'd taken at Seton Hill.

"I was at an advantage when it came to adapting instruction for virtual learners and creating engaging remote lessons because of the courses that I'd taken at Seton Hill."

Can you describe the journey from bachelor’s to master’s to your current position?

I graduated from Seton Hill with my B.A. in Elementary and Special Education in May of 2020. Right away, I began taking courses for my M.Ed. in Innovative Instruction. I decided to add a few extra classes to obtain a certificate in Adaptive Online Instruction as well. I graduated with my Master's in May of 2021. Later that year I returned to Allegheny Valley School District  (where I'd completed my student teaching) as a maternity leave substitute in the Special Education department. I loved forming relationships and celebrating the successes of the students I worked with every day. I became one of the school's building substitutes once that position ended. Most recently, I just added grades five and six to my teaching certification, allowing me to teach any elementary grade level.

How did your education at Seton Hill prepare you for teaching?

One thing that I loved about Seton Hill's Education Program was that it gave me a background in teaching in both general and special education settings. As a substitute teacher, I find myself in a different setting every day, and need to be able to work with students with a wide range of ability levels. The diverse courses that I took during both my undergraduate and graduate programs gave me such a huge wealth of knowledge and resources in teaching different populations of students.

Can you tell us more about "Cultivating Nourishment and Compassion for Young Children's Minds, Hearts, and Souls using Spiritual Literacy: Allowing Children to Hear Their Song!" 

I have always been passionate about mental wellness. For my Honors Program capstone project, I put together an online guide providing information and resources relating to child and adolescent mental health for teachers, parents and caregivers. Dr. Kathleen Harris (dean of School of Education and Applied Social Sciences) served as my capstone advisor. Soon after the completion of the project, she reached out to me about writing an article relating the topic of children's mental health to mindfulness and spirituality. We are now working on the final steps of getting it accepted into an upcoming book on how the current pandemic has affected children. It's been an honor to work with Dr. Harris, who had an incredible impact on my time at Seton Hill.