Imagine you are a teacher, and this is your first day in your new classroom.
Imagine you are a new teacher, and you now have your very first classroom.
Imagine you are teachers assigned to co-teach together.
But wait! Imagine, your co-teacher is your friend.
For Mary Farley G'23, MS in Early Childhood Education, and Kimberly Bermani G'23, MS in Elementary Education, this is not a dream scenario, but one of those twists in life that brought these two close friends together in a first-grade classroom in Frederick Harris Elementary in Springfield, MA.
Their parallel teaching experience began months before when they were enrolled in the graduate program in education at Bay Path University. As they pursued their mutual goal of becoming teachers, they found they had many things in common and were the perfect complement to one another in their life experiences.
As non-traditional students returning to college in an online program, their friendship was the support they needed to balance their studies and their families.
Kim shared how it all started: “I had posted a message on our welcome site in the program and Mary noticed my daughter had on a Suffield (CT) t-shirt. Mary lives in Windsor Locks (CT), the next town over, and asked if I would want a friend in the program? ‘Heck, yes!’ I replied. And that was the beginning.”
“I was new to the teaching profession. My children are getting older, and I was looking for a new career,” states Mary. “As the mother of five children, I knew child management! I just needed the tools to become a teacher.”
Both agreed that Bay Path’s education programs were the best fit for them on their journey to becoming teachers.
“I looked at several programs and there were too many prerequisites and barriers. They didn’t make it easy,” as Kim relates. “I was already subbing in my daughter’s school, and I was ready to pass on being a teacher when the HR department told me to look into Bay Path. It was perfect for me!”
Mary adds: “I looked at other programs. I couldn’t do a Saturday, or there were too many prerequisites. My husband heard about Bay Path. It made so much sense. It was close to my house, the trimesters worked for me and my family, and they were incredibly supportive in the application process.”
They both had Dr. Hickson-Martin as their advisor throughout the program. She was always available to answer questions and provide direction. During student teaching, Dr. Hickson-Martin was Mary’s program supervisor coming to the local elementary school and observing Mary’s teaching. Her feedback was essential in Mary’s growth as an educator. And they both agreed that Dr. Hickson-Martin continues to be someone that they feel they can reach out to at any time for guidance and support.
After graduation, Mary and Kim had their sights set on teaching in a classroom. In the 2022-23 school year, Kim was teaching fourth grade at Harris. She was a full-time teacher (teacher of record) and at the same time, she also was finishing the requirements for student teaching with Bay Path. At the end of the school year, Kim requested a change to first grade which was granted.
At the same time, Kim told Mary about openings at the school. Mary applied and originally secured a position as an intervention teacher for third to fifth grade in the same school. An intervention teacher complements the other classroom teacher by providing additional support in reading, math, and lesson reviews so that no student falls behind.
“I got a message from the administration asking would I mind being a mentor to a new intervention teacher. Her name is Mary Farley and here is her phone number. Could you reach out? She will now be assigned to your classroom. I was thrilled!” relates Kim. “It happened so fast.”
The months of working and studying together in the Bay Path program had planted the seeds for their success.
“We really work well together. It makes for a great classroom,” states Mary. “There is always one of us circling the room to make sure the children are on track. And we do check-ins with each other to monitor how they are progressing.”
“When you first start out in the new school year, there is so much to take in from the names of the students to new routines and schedules,” adds Kim. “The fact that we were already so comfortable with each other and on the same page has been so beneficial in the classroom.”
And both have the same advice to first-time teachers: “Collaboration is key. Teaching is a whole team effort with a great mission: helping children be the best they can be.”
Please visit the MSEd/EdS in Elementary Education program page to learn about curriculum, faculty, program options and more!
Please visit the MSEd/EdS in Early Childhood Education program page to learn about curriculum, faculty, program options and more!