UK CoE Student Ambassadors

CoE Student Ambassadors

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Student Ambassador: Stevie Lebanion

It’s been said a million times, but I’m going to say it one more time. If you have never been to another country. Go. If you have never been to another country to do something to further your academia, GO! Going to another country enriches a person through new experiences and it tests you by forcing you to interact with customs, people and traditions that you may never have been exposed to before. Simply going on vacation to another country will provide you with experiences with cultures unlike your own. However, studying, interning or teaching abroad will provide you with an enriched experience and will further your skill set and attributes further than you ever imagined possible. So, if you’ve been to another country on vacation, and therefore, think studying, interning or teaching abroad isn’t for you because you’ve already experienced “culture shock”, please THINK AGAIN! Studying, interning or teaching abroad can open so many doors for you and introduce you to things you never considered. It can also provide you with new skills or hone skills you already have. For example, I went to Greece this past summer. Before I went, I knew I had a skill for directions and figuring out where I was and how to get where I needed to be. While I was in Greece, I amazed myself by the way I was able to navigate the big city (Athens) and the small, confusing island towns (such as Mykonos, whose roads were made with the intention to be confusing so that pirates would have a hard time raiding the island). Before I studied abroad, I thought I was a fairly independent and capable person. Greece forced me to really become independent and take care of myself. I often had to find ways to get from point A to point B on my own. While I was there, I bought ferry and bus tickets, found cabs, exchanged money in Greek banks, booked hotels and I even had to go to a Greek hospital! All of these things forced me to rely on myself. Usually, in America, I would call my mom or someone who I knew would be able to help me in a sticky or confusing situation. In Greece, there were many times when I didn’t have anyone but myself to rely on. Therefore, it forced me to be more independent and responsible.

I love the experience I had in Greece. I now feel completely capable of taking care of myself. I also feel like I could tackle any obstacle in my way and I am no longer afraid of the unknown. If I don’t know how to do something, or I don’t understand something, I am comfortable in admitting it and asking for help. I am also sure of myself, that I can figure it out.

Now, you might be saying to yourself that you can gain those experiences as just a vacationer so why would you study abroad (or intern or teach)? Well, I’m glad you asked. By studying abroad, I immersed myself in the culture, looked critically at the culture and my surroundings. I also learned how to conduct myself as a professional in another country. If you were to intern abroad, you would gain experience working in another country whose work ethic and work conduct may be slightly or drastically different than the U.S. This means you would be able to understand different cultures and how they handle their business. This makes you a strong resource for any future employers, not only are you capable of working in the U.S. but you have demonstrated that you can effectively work and adapt to another culture. As for teaching abroad, it is the same concept. If you can manage to teach effectively, it makes you a stronger teacher with better ideas and more experience in dealing with a diverse set of problems.

The biggest reason to go abroad to further academic career, would be the interaction with the people. The greatest thing I learn abroad was although we may be different on the surface, everyone is fundamentally the same. We are all trying to live our lives to the fullest, we all bleed, feel pain and happiness and we are all human. My faith in humanity was never stronger than when I went abroad. Sure, I ran into people who were having a bad day and took it out on me or simply people who didn’t like my presence. However, when I think of the overall experience, I was showered with kindness and compassion. I learned how to believe in humanity and I realized that you really cannot judge a person by their culture or their appearance.

College of Education Student Ambassador, Stevie Lebanion, is a senior at UK majoring in Secondary Social Studies Education with a minor in Sociology.

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Student Ambassador: Rochelle King

Having Fun (and Learning) at the Science Circus

    The fall semester is off to such a fun start in the College of Education! It is my senior year and I am already feeling the excitement for practicum and student teaching to come. I appreciate that a lot of the COE professors share my same excitement about teaching, too, and many go above and beyond to make sure that we will be prepared out in the field to really maximize each student’s education opportunities. With that said, what could be more fun and engaging for students than a Science Circus?

Students in Photograph: Michael Plas, Rochelle King, Caroline Downer

    Last week Drs. Rintamaa and Criswell held a collaborative Science Circus for the students in SEM 328 (elementary education) and SEM 448 and 634 (middle and high school Science education). We explored fifteen different stations that contained some amazing – and even some mind blowing – Science experiments. “How did that happen?” was a common question among my group members at every station.

Students in Photograph: Regan Hire, Shanika Payne

    While the Science Circus was filled with fun and amazement, we all learned many lessons beyond Science that night to take into our future teaching careers: the importance of collaboration with colleagues; our ability as teachers to make any topic interesting and engaging to all students, no matter their interest level; and the importance of student-led learning, allowing students to explore a topic and develop questions, explanations, and excitement, just as we did.

    Three weeks in and I am really looking forward to what else is to come this year in the College of Education!

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Student Ambassador: Sarah Hamm

Hello all! Sarah Hamm here, enjoying the crisp feeling of fall in the air today.  For those of you who do not know me, I am a senior in the University of Kentucky’s College of Education.  During my junior year I decided to become more involved on campus and became an ambassador for the College of Education.  On this blog I will be writing monthly to tell you about different happenings within the University of Kentucky as well as sharing the experiences I have had during these past three years.  Today, I want to tell you about the internship I had this summer that turned out to be by far the most rewarding experience I have had with students of all ages.

    First, let me give you a little bit of background information.  During my junior year of college here at UK I was required to take a class called “Education in American Culture”, which, if you decide to become an education major, you will have to take as well.  One requirement for this class was to collect ten hours of volunteer work during the semester at any local after school program around Lexington.  I chose a place downtown called The Living Arts and Science Center.  I knew the center offered after school art classes to students around the city and I planned to fulfill my ten hour requirement but I had no idea that it would make such an impact in my life and my future career as a teacher.  The events that I volunteered at, such as after school classes and their largest community event: Day of the Dead Festival, encouraged me to inquire more about future involvement with the center.  So, the following spring semester I applied to become a summer intern for the director of art classes.

    My duties as an intern were to input emergency contact data into the center’s system, perform managerial tasks for the director, and most importantly; coordinate the lunch program.  In coordinating the lunch program I was to collect all of the students around the building from their morning classes, take them outside to eat, plan games and activities to get the students up and moving around after the three hour class they had just came from, and get the students back into the building to their afternoon classes.  My first day on the job was a train wreck; I’m going to be honest.  My management skills were not up to par with the variety of age groups and the activities that I had planned did not carry out themselves accordingly.  It was the best learning experience I could have gotten though.  The director was completely understanding and encouraging of my efforts and believed that I would only get better at the job.  At the time I was in disbelief about her comment and my abilities overall but by the end of the summer I would walk into the center excited about what the day had in store for me.  I stopped worrying about following a strict set of rules and preconceived expectations on how the activities I had to plan would turn out.  I learned how to improvise and go with the flow which is a vital component of being a teacher.  Because although you can plan and plan and plan some things are just not going to turn out the way you thought they would in your head.  I am beyond thankful for the opportunity get to know the hilarious and talented children, the welcoming and caring staff, and the vast amounts of opportunities I had to grow as a teacher.  I trust that each of you reading will get the chance to experience the same feeling with the first step being community involvement!

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Student Ambassador: Casey Gettelfinger

Over the past school year and into this year, I have had the privilege of working as a Student Development Officer at the Sturgill Development Center. There, we have a team of students aging from freshmen to graduate students who contact alumni to keep them updated on happenings around campus and to raise support for scholarship funds. As a college of education student, I am very proud of our success during the 2013-2014 school year. Together, alumni and friends of the university pledged over $60,000 to support our current and future students! I am looking forward to the rest of this school year and am excited to raise more support for student scholarships.

Casey is a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in Kinesiology.

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Student Ambassador: Ellen Gaines

The first day of school cannot come fast enough, but it somehow is always too soon.  Starting the year off as a junior at University of Kentucky, I still have this same phenomenon.  However, this year I was about to start something that would be more enjoyable than my other classes, I was going to be at a middle school in Lexington every Monday and Wednesday.  So far I have loved this experience.  It is weird that the start of school this year was actually the start of teaching at a school for me as well.  Junior year hits you fast, and I feel like I should still be taking my UK core classes instead of driving to a middle school in real clothes as opposed to a t-shirt and athletic shorts!  It is weird to think that after this year, I will only have one more first day of classes that I am not the full time teacher! 

Ellen Gaines is a student ambassador at the University of Kentucky College of Education. She is majoring in Middle School Education with focuses in social studies and language arts. This semester, Ellen will observe classes at Winburn Middle School.

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The Frog Blog

While some kids waste their days away playing Minecraft and finishing off seasons of Parks and Recreation on Netflix, a certain 15 year old put his innovation and creativity to the test to design a Google Play app. At 20 years old, I wouldn’t even know where to begin even if I had a fun and engaging idea for an app. How did he come up with the idea, how did he design and create the game, and how is he turning a profit?

I decided to do a little investigation on Bertha Bertha Gaming, the self-proclaimed gaming start-up. The featured game “Spinny Frog” was released on April 2nd, 2014 and recently updated April 20th, 2014. It has already had close to 50 downloads. The game is really addicting as you try to jump from one spinning lily pad to the next while timing it just right. The game works as a series of never ending gears of different sizes, speeds, and directions to try to trip you up. Be warned, if you wait too long and/or are too timid to jump when the lily pads are aligned then you lose a point. This is great to help players be prepared and decisive when it comes to working on reaction time. My high score is a lowly 14 points; I need some practice.

Unfortunately, this game is not yet on iTunes or for Apple product use. The fee to get the game on iTunes was too steep for a 15 year old unemployed kid. However, Android users with a Google Play account should check out the app. It is described as “Help the frog make it across the lily pads in the fun yet challenging jumper! Tap the screen when the frog spins close to the next lily pad to make it jump! Spinny Frog is a fast-paced addicting game for Android!”

The reviews are almost exclusively positive, such as:

 “Great game Great addicting game! Really unique concept that’s a nice refresher from all the Flappy bird remakes.”

“New Flappy Bird Great, addicting game! More fun than Flappy Bird.”


“Best game ever New Flappy Bird”

So here’s my call to action: If you have a passion and idea, take it and run with it. It is your turn to make the new “next big thing.” Start small and grow big.

Check out the game, and don’t forget to give it five stars out of five. It’s my job to support my little brother’s projects, of course! Oh, did I not mention that this up and coming little game maker is my brother?


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As the school year comes to an end for many students, it is not uncommon to see dumpsters full of unwanted, but completely functional goods. I remember moving out of the dorms after my freshman year at Marshall University and seeing perfectly good futons, dressers, storage bins, and blankets just thrown into trash piles just for the sake of easing the impending move back home. I mean, PERFECTLY GOOD furniture. I won’t say that I went “dumpster diving”… but I did score a pretty decent IKEA bookcase somehow.

So as I sit here watching The Lorax in celebration of Earth Day, I want to take the time to remind you all of the responsibilities we have to care for our environment. We waste an enormous amount of resources every day (for a frightening look at the carbon footprint you’re leaving behind, visit this site à As you prepare to move back home for the summer, or if you’re getting into spring cleaning phase, consider taking the following actions:


Upcycling, or repurposing items for another use, is much more environmentally friendly than even recycling, which still leaves behind quite the amount of waste. I recently turned some old shirts of my husband’s into dresses for myself, and even turned an old ottoman into a bed for my cat. Pinterest often has wonderful ideas for upcycling even the simplest of household items and pieces of furniture. So if you don’t use something anymore, think of another purpose it may be able to serve before you chuck it out!



You may be tired of looking at that futon of yours, but maybe someone else (with a really cool bike they are getting rid) would like it! Rather than throwing yours away and buying an entirely new item, look for others with items that you may want. Trading used items can seriously impact the environment by slowing production rates and minimizing waste. 


You may no longer need these items, but chances are someone else does. Places like Goodwill, Lexington Rescue Mission, and Salvation Army take donations for clothes, furniture… almost anything you are looking to get rid of! Visit to schedule one of these organizations to come to you for a free pick-up (they will even leave you a tax-deductible receipt!).


It’s so easy to think, I’m just one person—how bad can I possibly be impacting the entire Earth. But consider these words from The Lorax the next time you find yourself standing at the trash can or dumpster:


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Hey friends! I hope all is well! As the semester comes to its close I am grateful for my undergraduate experience. This blog in particular allows me to focus on what has been accomplished in my life over the past three years, and as I enter into grad school I have been placing a lot of thought into what Qaaim looks like as an educator. I realized that one way I can get an understanding on this is through putting together a teaching philosophy, which is a few things. A teaching philosophy is what one thinks it means to be a good educator. It speaks to the expectations the educator has for themselves, along with the expectations of their students. It is a description of one’s strengths and weaknesses as an educator, along with how to strive toward and seek self-growth. So I thought “why not share your teaching philosophy, Q, The Magnificent?” 

I strongly believe that teaching is a career that one is called to do. Success as an educator is heavily reliant on how comfortable one feels within their classroom. However, there must be a distinction between receiving comfort from teaching and actually being a good teacher. There are a few things that must be placed at the forefront of the educator’s mind. Firstly, the goal of each academic year should always be assisting the student as they grow. Students will get older, and it is the teacher’s responsibility to guide them along the path of knowledge and wisdom. It is imperative to understand the huge impact an educator has in each of their student’s lives. That impact can be direct or indirect, intentional or unintentional. Each action a teacher makes is under a lens, and even the smallest decision can derail the student onto a path of trouble and constant failure.

An educator must also have an understanding of where students are coming from, along with where their identity lies. Situational awareness is vital in placing one’s best foot forward. No student is exactly the same, and it is easy for one to overlook what makes each of them different. In understanding where a student is coming from, the teacher can take the appropriate action in connecting with them. In doing so, the teacher can serve as an aid to students, assisting them in making reasonable decisions. It is not the role of the teacher to relate with the student, for such an action can come off as the belittlement of their experiences, discrediting the troubles they may have faced. If one is able to share similar encounters, it is the role of the teacher to consciously consider that a focus should be placed on the student. By intentionally trying to understand why students partake in the activities that they do, the teacher equips themselves with the ability to encourage or discourage certain actions. Methods of teaching should always be complimentary to the audience.

I believe that the biggest struggle I face as an educator, which many may be able to relate to, is the discouragement that may follow in seeing students constantly make the wrong decisions, regardless of my efforts to guide them. There has always been a desire placed on my heart to see progress made in the lives of others. When effort is made to assist the student and they fail to act off of the advice given, it can serve as an opposing force to the intentions that I have in assisting students to reach their personal goals. Nevertheless, it is the teacher’s role to never give up, regardless of the circumstances one may be under.

Well, I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about my teaching philosophy! Until next time, continue to be awesome =]


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Last month, I discussed my favorite student organization, the Kentucky Education Association. This month, I want to share with you all my favorite KEA event, which is coming up in just a week. It’s called Arts for Smarts. 

The premise for Arts is Smarts is simple. We aim to promote the arts as an effective tool that can easily be utilized to educate students in other core content areas. Each year, our chapter goes to a local elementary school on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and spends the day getting crafty with a group of awesome kids! We always have just as much, if not more, fun than the kids.

Last year, one of my favorite activities of the day involved the students learning about constitutions and what it takes to found a country. The students were encouraged to create their own country with their own set of rules. They drafted their own constitution, and some students even created flags and maps of their country. From Balloon World, where all citizens are required to carry a balloon with them at all times, to Squirrel Land, where all citizens were squirrels and all meals consisted of nuts, the students showcased their creativity while learning about a core social studies concept!


This year, Arts for Smarts will take place at Southern Elementary, which is on Wilson Downing Road. The event is on Saturday, April 26th and will run from around 8:30-3:00. If you’re interested in volunteering, feel free to contact the UK KEA Vice President Rachel Allgeier at

Until next time,


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Hello Everyone!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful semester.

As future educators, we all know we must have clear and open lines of communication with our students’ parents. As technology has progressed, we educators have tried to keep up, especially in teacher parent communication. Now, email is the go-to communication for busy parents and teachers, but this still has its drawbacks. We have moved past the day where parent-teacher conferences are the only chance teachers and parents get to talk about their students.

One new trend in education is creating a class webpage or blog, which may consist of many different elements. These blogs are open to the public and keep students and parents up to date.

On such a website or blog, a class calendar is very useful for those parents who may have to keep their kids on schedule, and even for those kids who are forgetful. Even things like homework assignments, test dates, and school activities can be posted as reminders.

Weekly, or even daily class posts from teachers can keep students up to date using only one post, as opposed to emailing each parent individually. This is more efficient and even lets school administrators know exactly what messages you are sending out to parents and students.

As always, find something you find useful and suits your style. Customize your page to something you will keep up and enjoy using from day to day. A blog or webpage won’t be effective if it isn’t something you keep up or find useful for your class.

Until next time,

Ben Crawford