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Student Commencement EIU CEPS 2017

The Role of Community in My Past, Present, and Future Experiences

Megan Fritzsche

Welcome fellow graduates, faculty, families, and friends.  One of the many things that makes EIU great is the sense of community that surrounds its campus, classes, and everyday workings.

Sense of community is a value that was instilled in me at a young age.  My time at Eastern Illinois University has helped me solidify the meaning of community, as well as taught me ways to integrate my sense of community into my career. 

              I first learned about the meaning of being involved from my parents.  My entire life, they have constantly volunteered in various organizations within my school, and within my hometown.  Therefore, as a child and a young adult, I too have been involved in various organizations. These values, which I learned from my parents, have carried over into my career as a student at Eastern, and in turn, will carry over to my career as an educator. 

              Through out my course work at Eastern, I have had many opportunities to work in various schools, with multiple organizations, and in several communities both in Illinois and abroad.  I have learned first hand, the value of creating a positive classroom community of learners. During both practicum experiences, and student teaching, I have had the opportunities to work alongside teachers who promoted a sense of unity and kindness within their students and their classrooms.  These teachers and students have shown me the exponential value of creating a community of learners.  These teachers and classes have also shown me the kind of teacher I want to be and the kind of classroom environment that I want to promote.  My instructors at EIU have constantly modeled what a good classroom community looks like, and have also stressed the value that community members can play in children’s learning.

              A school is only as good as the people behind it.  Communities are the backbone of schools. People from the surrounding area volunteer for organizations both in and out of school. Teachers who are actively involved in the community demonstrate to their students the value of caring, kindness, and comradery within a community.  Active community members support schools, learning, the students within them, and people in need.

              During my time at Eastern, I have had the opportunity to be part of a community that is greater than I am.  Throughout my previous semesters at EIU, I have tutored at the Newman Center.  Through this experience, I have had the ability to positively touch the lives of children within Charleston and surrounding areas.  Being a part of this program and other organizations at EIU, I have constantly been reminded of why I want to teach.

              My sense of dedication to my home community is something that has not wavered through out my time at Eastern.  During breaks, I volunteered regularly at my former elementary school.  My volunteering spans from listening to children read, making copies for teachers, setting up for the annual eighth grade send-off, to helping serve food at the annual fundraisers.  In August, I will be teaching fourth grade in my home district.  This will allow me to further integrate myself into my community and provide the opportunity for me to continue to give back to the students of the district in which I found my passion for teaching.

             

              A community is a place that a person feels they belong. During my time at EIU, I found my second home.  My peers and instructors made Charleston feel like home by constantly being surrounded by people who shared the same passion for teaching that I do. 

As part of my coursework, I had the opportunity to travel and teach on Andros Island in the Bahamas.  On this trip, I experienced two different kinds of community.  The first was the sense of community among my fellow EIU students.  Traveling to another country, while living in a hot, uncomfortable environment, showed me the caring community that I, as an EIU student, am a part of.  The second  that I experienced during my trip was the sense of unity among the people on the island.  The island inhabitants’ willingness to give everything they had to their neighbor was astounding.  This experience is something that has stuck with me not only during my time at EIU, but I believe, will also stick with me during my career as a teacher, and as a community member.

              My experiences that I have had throughout my time at EIU, whether it was in local schools, on campus, in the Charleston School District, or in my hometown has influenced the kind of educator I will be.   It is my hope that as a teacher, I will be able to model for my students how good community members act, and what they do.  Through this example, I am hoping to inspire my students to aspire to be active community members.

              Although today marks the end of our careers at EIU, I am confident that we will forever be a part of the EIU community and family.  Our contributions to the community of EIU and Charleston will be something that sticks with us through out the rest of our lives, and we will always know that EIU is a place that we love, we belong, and we will always be a part of.