Although the routes into the education profession can sometimes be long and winding, intentional programs that provide a clear pathway through college and into a career greatly help passionate future teachers find their way. Mariah Garzee, a first-year 6th grade teacher at Central Intermediate School in Monmouth, Illinois, was able to follow these sorts of pathways. Through the support of programming for new rural teachers at Monmouth College, one of Rural Schools Collaborative’s regional leads in the Illinois Hub, Mariah was able to channel her energy and ambition for becoming a teacher into a budding new career.
The first time Mariah seriously considered teaching as a profession was in her senior year of high school. She enjoyed her work as a babysitter, had a love of reading and school, and had a close friend whose mother was a teacher, so teaching was always on the table, but it wasn’t until her first year at Monmouth College, when she had the opportunity to volunteer in a classroom, that she decided to set her career compass firmly on teaching, “My freshman year in college, I was a volunteer in classrooms and I instantly knew that [teaching was] what I wanted to do. Just working with the kids and seeing them get it, seeing them show understanding or that they’ve learned something is the greatest feeling to me.”