Special Education 7-12; Rehabilitation minor
Class of 2021
UMF’s College of Education, Health, and Rehab got a chance to speak with Jasmine Corkins, who is a second-year Special Education Major.
UMF CEHR: Why did you choose UMF?
Jasmine: As a sophomore in High School, I came on a tour through a school program. From my first tour, I absolutely fell in love with the campus and the welcoming community that UMF fosters. I knew that UMF was the right fit for me. I loved the small-town feel, as I come from a very small town, so UMF felt like home. During my junior and senior years of high school, I took a bunch of tours. I could not get enough of UMF. I loved it more and more every visit. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher and this was the best school I could possibly go to for my interests. The ideas and philosophies that UMF fosters are concepts that I truly believe in. I love this school so much that I have been on 17 tours here!
UMF CEHR: Before this semester you were a Secondary Education Major with a concentration in math. Can you tell us why you chose that path?
Jasmine: I never would have thought math would have been my path until high school. My favorite math teacher from my high school (Washington Academy) went here. That teacher gave me confidence that in fact, I was capable of completing math problems and that I could do it. I thought I was terrible at it, but my math teacher gave me the confidence to succeed. As I became an upperclassman in high school, I began taking upper-level math classes. I wanted to support kiddos the way I was supported. I will never forget how my teacher made me feel; I had a newfound confidence that I never had before. Once I got to UMF, I struggled with math. I was less enthusiastic about math and I knew that I did not want to teach something that I was not good at. I started to get down upon myself and pretended that math was my calling, but it was not. I was getting low grades in my math classes and I felt that I could not keep up. My whole outlook changed once I took practicum last semester. I was enrolled in practicum as a Secondary Education major, though. I met the professor that changed my life: Dr. Kate Macleod. Dr. Kate taught a Special Education course, which was a 2-credit course in the Secondary Education practicum block. It touched on inclusive schools and how we, as teachers, can become more inclusive. Dr. Kate talked to me about the possibility of a Special Education minor. That sounded like a path I wanted to take because I love accommodating for all of my kiddos. Dr. Kate then asked me, “Do you see yourself in 40 years teaching a math class?” I did not know my answer. It was hard for me to overcome because I knew my answer was no. I replied, “I guess I wanted to teach math.” Dr. Kate then told me the best piece of advice that I will always live with, “If you are not passionate about what you are teaching, you won’t be happy.” After that conversation, I made my choice. I was going to become a Special Education major because I love teaching students with all different abilities.
UMF CEHR: You mentioned that you were in practicum last semester. Can you tell us about your experience in the classroom?
Jasmine: I had my placement at Mt. Blue Middle School in an 8th-grade math classroom. At the time, I was still a math concentration and got to work with amazing teachers. My mentor was Fred Conlogue, who teaches 8th-grade math. I got to experience co-teaching at its finest. His wife, Tammy Conlogue is the Special Education teacher for their community. Tammy would bring kids over from her classroom into the algebra class. The students were integrated very well, where you could hardly tell that students were coming over from another class. I loved my placement, because it felt like one big group, instead of the classroom being split into different parts. It made my practicum experience amazing. By the end of the practicum experience, I saw growth in the students. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, but I did not know if doing math was for me. I formed great bonds with the students and knew that leaving my placement would be so difficult. All of the students in the class were focused, as different adaptive tools were used in the classroom to keep the students on task. Being in this placement and getting to experience the rich role of a special educator, my decision to become a Special Education major was finalized.
UMF CEHR: You talked about the role that co-teaching played in your placement and how that solidified your Special Education major. Would you want to work in a school that has a strong emphasis on co-teaching?
Jasmine: Co-teaching worked in my placement and I think that is why I liked it so much. That is to say that it would not work at every school. It really depends on where I end up and what kind of school I teach at. What I like about the Special Education Major is that it allows for all different kinds of styles. I can be a co-teacher, teach solo and bring students back into the classroom, or be a supportive role in some classroom reiterating the points and supporting the goals of the lesson. I want to be a little bit of everything, so for right now, I am glad to keep an open mind about things.
UMF CEHR: Your previous experiences fostered the passion that is driven by your new program. Can you tell us about the best part about your new path?
Jasmine: I have not had much experience yet in my new program, but I love it so far. I officially made the switch about three weeks into the current semester. I am taking a lot of special education courses this semester, so I will find out what my favorite parts are! Right now, I am taking an Assistive Technology course taught by Dr. Kevin Good. In that course, we get to learn about different technology tools that we, as educators, can use to support our students in the classroom. I like learning about all of the devices and how they can support students in different ways.
UMF CEHR: Jasmine, you mentioned that you are taking a wide variety of Special Education courses this semester. Do you have a favorite or one that resonates with your teaching style?
Jasmine: My courses have changed my outlook on teaching for the better. I mentioned that I took a Special Education course with Dr. Kate that talked about inclusive schools, which got me excited about Special Education. I am taking a literacy course right now, which analyzes texts and learning how to use different techniques and strategies. This course is taught by Dr. Karen Smith. After being in this class for a little over a month, I have learned about studying for a teaching point of view. It has opened my eyes to different types of studying. I have always considered myself to be really bad at studying, so in a sense, I have been learning how to study. This course really opens my eyes to how each learner is different; some students read fast, and others may need more time to read. For reading and analyzing, there are instructional texts for various levels. I believe that textbooks are not written for the age groups, but they are written for the facts. I realized how students get really bogged down with a word-heavy textbook. For some students, the change in the middle of a book with lots of pictures is a hard switch and makes it hard for them to understand the text.
UMF CEHR: Now that you are here, switched your major and doing well in your new program, is there something that you wished you knew beforehand?
Jasmine: I wish I knew how hard college courses were going to be. I did not know how to study or complete the complexity of homework assignments. For me, the transition from high school to college was a bit difficult academic wise. It was a lot different and there were moments where I felt shocked with the academic rigor. My math teacher in high school believed in me and gave me courage, but I did not know how hard the math classes were going to be. I did not do well in those courses during my first semester of college. I was frustrated and upset and thought I had done something wrong, but it is part of growing up and experiencing the learning process. For my Special Education major, well, I wish I knew how much I loved the Special Education program before I applied. That is easier said than done, but this program is amazing.
UMF CEHR: Is there something that you now know and want others to know about UMF?
Jasmine: Take time to experience UMF. I got to know amazing people that will be my forever friends. I cherish the moments that I spend with all of my friends and I give credit to the community that welcomes you in with open arms. My favorite experience was presenting at the ACTEM Conference (Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine) with my practicum block. It was truly an eye-opening experience. I presented my math unit that I had been working on in Dr. Theresa’s Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction course for about a month before the conference. I made some amazing connections with in-field educators and administrators.
ACTEM was an experience so amazing that I will not be able to replace for a long time. I got some amazing feedback on my work, which helped me grow as a future-educator. Even if you don’t get a chance to present, it is amazing just being there. I got to attend very cool presentations and tbe introduced with new technologies. The other thing that I wish people knew about was dorm life. People told me before I went off to college that dorm life was really hard to get used to and living with other people was going to be difficult. It was a great experience going into the dorms for the first time; it was scary and new. I was alone for the very first time, and I will admit that I had a hard time adjusting for the first few weeks. Once I was adjusted with my new home, it was amazing. The dorms provide a community feeling and how to live with other people. I met many of my friends in my time living in the dorms. I lived in Purington my first year of college and still live in Purington and it is a great dorm building. If you have the experience living in close quarters with others, this might not be as big of a culture shock to you. I am so glad I got to experience the dorms along with everything that UMF has to offer.
UMF CEHR: You mentioned that your concentration was once math. Since then, you have switched to Special Education. Are you keeping the math minor or switching to something new?
Jasmine: I am no longer a math minor. Instead of focusing on one thing, I want to be able to do a little bit of everything to support my students. I am now a rehabilitation minor. That was a spur of the moment, spontaneous decision. I talked with Dr. Karen Smith and she mentioned that a lot of students in the Special Education program pair the Special Education and Rehabilitation programs together, as they complement each other nicely. With my rehabilitation minor, I get to work with people I want to work within a field I want to work in. This was the perfect path for me. I was this decision as an immediate “YES”, this is absolutely what I want. Right now, I am focusing on the courses for my major, but I will be taking classes for my minor coming up next semester in the fall.