READING, Pa. -- Two graduating childhood and early adolescent education majors, Melissa Sauer and Bethany Connors, who is also one of the college’s student marshals, were instrumental in building a garden at Glenside Elementary School this semester.
Melissa Sauer is one of the graduating Childhood and Elementary Education majors who originally came up with the idea of revitalizing the garden at Glenside Elementary School. She was already student teaching at Glenside and more than willing to volunteer her time and talent to see the project through.
Sauer was one of the driving forces behind the garden project. When asked how this project benefitted the students of Glenside Elementary School, she said, “Some of the shyest, most withdrawn students were the most involved in the garden. It was meaningful for the students to have something to do, something that they cared about.”
Always eager to get involved in volunteer projects through the Penn State Berks Childhood and Elementary Education program, Sauer has helped to teach a literacy course at Shiloh Hills Elementary School and volunteered for the United Way’s Ready! Set! Read! literacy tutoring program. She worked in the college’s PEPP (Penn State Educational Partnership) program, tutoring students in the Reading School District. She was also a member of PSU for Kids, a student club that raises funds for the Reading School District and Camp Noah.
She traveled to Germany as part of the International Field Experience, where Berks Childhood and Elementary Education majors visit German classrooms and learn about the German education system.
In addition, Sauer is the founder of the college’s Speak Up for Autism Club. Sauer’s brother has autism, and she explained that he is part of the reason she decided to pursue a degree in education.
She received the college’s Professionalism in Elementary Education Award.
After graduation, she plans to look for a teaching position and eventually earn a master’s degree in special education and possibly go on to earn a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.
“My heart is in urban schools,” said Sauer. “You know those are the students who need you, and you are able to make an impact on them.”
Connors is one of Penn State Berks’ student marshals, a graduating student with the highest grade-point average. She was student teacher at Glenside Elementary and under her leadership, her first-grade class got involved in the garden project, painting colorful birdhouses.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” said Connors. “It’s not like work; it’s fun for me. I always had wonderful teachers who made learning fun.”
Connors comes from a family of Penn State alumni, including her father and sister, as well as other members of her extended family.
When asked why she chose Penn State Berks, she said, “I knew I wanted to be with younger kids, and I loved that Penn State Berks had a full-year student-teaching opportunity. I was able to take advantage of the opportunities I would have at a big university at a smaller campus.”
While a student at Penn State Berks, Connors served as president of the Education Club. She received several academic awards including the Educational Studies Award and the Evan Pugh Scholar Award.
Connors is currently seeking a teaching position in an elementary school.