The final decisions to attend the University of South Carolina come in many ways. Whether it’s to break away from a family tradition of attending a rival school, in order to grow and become your own person; or maybe you fell in love with the campus after visiting at the right time of year, when the Horseshoe was in full bloom; or maybe you just knew that UofSC had all the opportunities you were looking for in the major you were choosing. For Addison Barrack, it was all those things that solidified her decision to attend UofSC as an undergraduate student four years ago, but most important was what the College of Education offered to be in the elementary classroom. “There was no other program that offered the same amount of actual experience through practicums and internships,” said Barrack. She wanted to dive right in working with children, because she believed that was the most effective way to learn to teach.
Majoring in Elementary Education, the College of Education is home to Barrack. She has memorable experiences starting with her first semester when she became involved in the Waverly After-School Program, Communities in Harmony, and Cocky’s Reading Express (CRE). All of those programs focused on providing experiences or resources for students in low income households who would otherwise not have the opportunity. Fridays brought the opportunity to travel to other schools with CRE and taking part in the program. Books would be read and a call to action would be offered called the “Cocky Promise” where students would promise to read every single day. Barrack loved hearing the students yell excitedly “I promise, Cocky!” and the look of pure exhilaration on their faces as they received a book on the way out the door was priceless.
Barrack’s college experience intertwines with both professors and students. Doing research proved to be one of Barrack’s most rewarding experiences. Dr. Christine DiStefano, Associate Professor, Educational Studies, reached out with a suggestion to take an idea Barrack had for a lesson plan and put it into action; which evolved into a Magellan grant and her senior thesis. Visiting with Dr. DiStefano each week has given her the opportunity to present her research entitled “Why Teachers Should Nip it in the Bud: The Importance of Early Intervention” at the 9th World Congress on the Promotion of Mental Health and Prevention of Mental and Behavioral Disorders. She will also present her research at the American Psychological Association (APA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado.
“The best part about USC is the people,” said Barrack “the professors and students really care about each other and want one another to be successful. Professors encourage students to come to them when things get tough during student teaching or when situations arise in a class. Student roommates provide a lifeline of support, as do the coaching teachers and supervisors that Barrack has had the pleasure of working with. Relationships have been developed, which are sure to remain for a life-time.
Barrack says, “I would encourage anyone pursuing education at UofSC to dive right into the courses offered. Grab the opportunity to pursue classroom experiences right away. You can start taking courses and participate in practicums as early as your first semester!”
University 101 (U101) program is where Barack met her best friend in the education program. U101 offered the chance to meet a ton of people to bond with, and build strong relationships early on. Use the education major relationship resources to carpool to local schools for class and practicums or do your homework together.
“Get involved in extracurricular activities,” Barrack suggests, “especially activities that involve kids,” she said. “These opportunities give you the chance to really apply what you're learning in class and to get comfortable with communicating with students at a variety of age levels- plus they're great resume builders!”
Barrack will graduate in May 2016 with her B.A. degree in Elementary Education. With a 4.0 grade point average, she has been accepted to Vanderbilt University, on scholarship, to pursue graduate studies in Reading Education. The program will equip her to better educate students in the mainstream classroom, especially in the area of literacy. Her career of choice will be as a literacy coach or specialist, but not before diving into her first love of teaching for many years to come.