Answering the Call
Shelby Goldman always new she wanted to be a teacher
“It’s a calling, for sure,” Shelby Goldman ’17 says. “I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember.”
Shelby is in her final semester before graduation. She's completed her classroom work and is now student teaching at Chatom Elementary School, about 60 miles north of Mobile in Washington County. Her days are hectic as she works to put the hours of study from the past few years into practice.
“I’m set to graduate in December. This student-teaching assignment is my last big challenge. Going from the classroom to the classroom, if you know what I mean, can be hard. But I feel ready for it. I feel like my professors have prepared me really well.”
Shelby grew up in St. Stephens, Alabama on the banks of the Tombigbee River, only 15 miles from Chatom where she works these days. After high school, she spent two years earning an Associate’s degree in science at Coastal Alabama Community College.
“For me, those two years were important. I grew up some. I got a better idea of what I wanted to do. When I started looking at colleges, I had a clearer idea what I wanted. I looked at UWA because I had some friends up there and they loved it.
“I could tell as soon as I set foot on campus that I would like it. Everyone was so friendly. And the professors in the School of Education made a real impression. You could tell they love what they do. You could tell they really believe that great teachers can change the world. That rubs off on you.”
Asked to describe her experience at UWA, Shelby is quick to point out — it’s the people that make all the difference. “You hear people say it all the time — this place is like family. And if you aren’t part of the campus, it’s easy to see that as just a cliché, something every school says. Maybe it’s because we’re in a small town, or it’s a small campus, I don’t know. But the people are amazing.
“If you need help, there is always someone there to help. Your teachers go out of their way to make sure you are learning the material. Not just learning — that you understand it.
“In the School of Education, you work with pretty much the same professors your junior and senior year. I’m not on campus anymore, but my professors still call me and text me about every day. They are so generous with their time, you never feel like you are on your own. That’s the thing to me. Every one of my professors was a teacher before they came to UWA. They really believe in the calling — that some people are called to this profession.
“They don’t just train you be a teacher. They make you believe that you can be a great teacher. They really believe that.”