What Students Really Say About Farmington
When I decided that I wanted to go into Elementary Education, it was a no brainer, because of Farmington's reputation as a great teacher’s college. Farmington had a combination of a great reputation, affordability, and convenience. The Education program’s reputation is so good. That was the major attraction. I was also able to keep my job. I'm working my way through college as the head of security at a retail store in Waterville.
How did you decide on Elementary Education?
Well, when it comes to teaching, I think it selects you. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
Can you describe the Elementary Education major at Farmington?
It’s certainly a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding. In your second year, you do a teaching practicum, which is like your first taste of student teaching. It lets you know if you’re cut out for teaching or not. Then, in your fourth year, you do student teaching for five days a week, for eight weeks at a time. So you get a lot of in-class time. You really get a chance to figure out if you can and want to teach.
What’s your concentration in Elementary Education?
I have a Language Arts concentration.
Did you come to Farmington knowing what you wanted to do?
I did. When I decided for sure, I was probably like a junior in high school. It was about that time that I first visited here.
Have you had a favorite class or favorite experience in class?
My favorite experience was definitely in-class practicum, two days a week in a public school classroom. I was in a sixth grade class at Cascade Brook School, right up the road from campus here in Farmington. That was the best experience by far. Part of the practicum experience includes three classes. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but you just learn so much. That was the first time I sat back and said, “Sometimes I absolutely hate doing this, but I can see why I have to do it and why it will benefit me.”
Were you excited to be in the classroom as a teacher?
I was terrified at the start, and the first two weeks were tough. I had a hard time learning the names of all the little kids. You know first-time teacher things that you don’t think about — the names, the seating arrangements, the schedule. It was eye-opening, but it confirmed that I wanted to be there. I definitely walked out knowing I wanted to teach.
Have you had any other interesting classes?
I'm taking a fiction writing class right now and I find it to be quite exciting. It’s based on my Language Arts concentration, but it isn’t necessarily for Education majors. It’s for Creative Writing majors.
What sets the Farmington Elementary Education program apart from others?
We have teachers that care. I'll run into professors from years past and we’ll talk for a couple minutes. Then, by the time I get home, they’ll have sent me an e-mail. They seem to take a real interest. I think the fact that we're a small campus may help foster that closeness. I really feel like the size of the school allows professors to get more in touch with who we are as people and it just benefits everyone in the end.
Have you taken a class that has changed your view on anything?
Yes, I was doing an observation for a Science Education class and that was the first time I realized how bad the politics in education are. I got to see what the classroom teacher was going through, what she could and could not teach or even discuss. That was an eye-opening experience. But it really cemented the fact that I could teach, that I'm capable of it, and that I actually wanted to teach.
Do you feel that Farmington is preparing you well?
Yes, nothing is sugar-coated here. Everything here is, “This is how it is going to be and this is what you have to do.” They push you and guide you through it.
Have you done any outside of the classroom projects?
I’ve done a lot of different science methods activities with Andrea Freed [Asst. Professor of Science Education]. We did a moon gazing project where we had to go out every night and try to figure out the moon placement in the sky. Another time we went to the Sandy River to do water purity testing. It’s cool. You get to experience science through the children’s eyes again. I think by the time we get to college we've completely forgotten what it was like to be in third grade. I think it’s great to see the world from that perspective again.
What kind of classes have stood out outside of your major?
I took a Philosophy course with a local attorney who also teaches at Farmington, Frank Underkuffler [Lecturer in Philosophy]. It actually changed the way I look at life. It was an amazing course, and it was just a Humanities requirement. I think the Psychology courses I've taken here are pretty good. And my Fiction Writing class is great.
Do you feel like you get a lot of work here?
It isn’t too hard. If they baby us now, we couldn’t handle the real world. You have to prepare students for what's coming in life, and it isn’t sitting around in the dorms eating Doritos. [laughs]
What was one of your best experiences at Farmington?
Again, my Practicum at Cascade Brook Elementary School was an amazing experience. I got the experience of being in a real classroom. I know other colleges don’t let you do any kind of classroom teaching until your senior year. Getting experience in a school classroom as a sophomore is a huge advantage. It helps you find out very early if the teaching field is right for you.
Were you able to have a class schedule that lets you to keep your part-time job?
Yeah. The way my schedule is set up, I can still work Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday every week. The courses I need are usually offered at more than one time so I can put together a schedule that allows me to keep working my way through college.
Have you had any professors at UMF that have really stood out?
Dr. Deborah Overstreet [Assoc. Professor of Literacy]. I did my practicum literature block with her. I read something like 60 children’s books in just a few weeks, a couple hundred pages each. It was so much work, but she's so smart and so blunt. She knows how to make something stand out.
What makes somebody a good professor?
The ability to care for students, even when those students seem like they don’t care. The ability to pull a kid aside and say, “Look here is the deal. You are messing up your life. Cut it out.” I’ve had professors do that to me here. I didn’t do well my first year here, I pulled off something like a 2.5 G.P.A. Not horrible, but nowhere where I should be. One day, one of my professors, Becky Berger [Assoc. Professor of Elementary Education] pulled me aside and said, “I don’t know what's going on, but you’ve got to figure yourself out.” And she was right. It’s a combination of experience and wisdom.
What’s do you find unique about Farmington?
Compared to what I’ve seen on other campuses, I feel like Farmington is more of a family. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time at [other colleges in Maine] and everything at those other schools seemed sort of sterile and un-cool. You come here and feel like part of a happy family.
Why did you apply to Farmington?
The size. I was worried about going to a big college, which was kind of silly because I was in a band and I played shows in front of lots of people all the time. But for whatever reason, I was nervous about the whole big school thing. So Farmington's small size and the closeness of the campus community really drew me in.
What were some first impressions of Farmington?
It’s a very welcoming campus. Most people here seem quite happy. It’s pretty nice. I wish I had more time here!
Do you live in the residence halls?
At first I commuted. Then I lived in the residence halls for a while. Now, I have an apartment just off campus.
What’s the difference between commuting and living on campus?
There’s a lot of extracurricular stuff that goes on here. When I was commuting I didn’t see much more of the campus than the inside of a couple of classroom buildings. That changed a lot once I lived on campus. I’ve gone from being a person passing through to a person who's active in a lot of things. I’ve participated in a lot of photo shoots, go to The Landing on campus to see comedians and performers and bands — things like that. You learn very quickly that it isn’t worth staying in your shell. It’s such a cool community here that you should really get out, meet people and have fun.
What are some kinds of campus events that you like to go to?
Shows. I’ve played a few shows, actually. I played in two of the Battle of the Bands on campus and I got to perform with the Portland band Lost on Liftoff. Some of the theater plays here are good, too, and the comedians. The dances are fun, too.
What else do you do in Farmington for fun?
My friends and I enjoy playing home run derby. I'm also a golfer and I have several friends that golf. There's a golf course about 3 miles from campus. We won the last tournament there, so we're actually the club champions! I like going to the Fitness Center, too. The winter is tough on me because I'm not a skier or snowboarder so the Fitness Center becomes my second home in the wintertime. [laughs]
What is your favorite part of Farmington?
The atmosphere is great. The food is good. I have really, really good friends here.
How would you describe it to somebody looking at the school?
It's like having a big family reunion, but without any of your annoying uncles [laughs]. That's what Farmington is like to me. [laughs]
Do you have a favorite Farmington memory?
During my teaching practicum, I went on an overnight trip to Camp Susan Curtis, a woodsy kid’s camp not too far from Farmington. It was awesome. We played kickball and did nature stuff. That was probably my favorite memory — hanging out with the kids outside of the classroom. They see you as a teacher, but you can still be their friend and mentor.
Where do you see yourself after you graduate?
I want to be in the teaching field. I would feel like I’ve wasted a degree if I don’t! I'm also really interested in opening some sort of education-based business, like advanced tutoring or something. I have a friend who's a business major at another school and we’ve been bouncing this idea back and forth for a year or two now.
Would you want to stay in Maine?
I definitely want to stay in New England and I wouldn’t mind staying in Maine to teach.
Have you ever thought about grad school?
I would love to get my Master's degree. I’ll probably get a teaching job and hope they'll help pay for me to get my Master’s degree in Education.
What has been your biggest surprise at Farmington?
How close of a community we have here. Also, there's a lot of Republican students on campus. That really surprised me. I don’t really claim a political party, but I expected the place to be super liberal, so I was surprised they have a UMF College Republican Club and whatnot.
Do you have any advice for an incoming student or to somebody looking at the school?
For somebody looking at the school, take it all in. Come on up here and hang out for two days — you’ll know what it’s like.
Would you recommend Farmington?
Yeah, I’ve pulled in a few people up to come here. [laughs]
- Kristen Bisson
From Waterville, Maine
- Emily Baer
Double major: Art and English
From Brunswick, Maine
- Andrew Thompson
Double major: Music and Art
From Plymouth, Massachusetts
- Shawn Rogers
From Dover, New Hampshire
- Lesley Kittredge
From Mount Vernon, Maine
- Kristen Simoneau
Community Health Education - School Health Education
From Jay, Maine
- Shane Koski
From Auburn, Maine
- Renee Meserve
Early Childhood Education
From Westbrook, Maine
- Casey Myers
Early Childhood Special Education
From Winooski, Vermont
- Craig Nadeau
From Fairfield, Maine
- Michaela Hitchcock
Environmental Planning & Policy
From Springfield, Vermont
- Erica Austin
Double major: History and Geography
From Turner, Maine
- Alison Gerrish
International & Global Studies
From Portland, Maine
- Lisa Kittredge
Liberal Arts Undecided
From Mount Vernon, Maine
- Nate Burns
Double major: Music and Philosophy / Religion
From Wayne, Maine
- Genesis Burke
From Amesbury, Massachusetts
- Mary Beth Kirby
From Farmington, Maine
- Joel Hatfield
Secondary / Middle Education
From Palermo, Maine
- Courtney Church
Sociology / Anthropology
From Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- Emily Langton
From Manchester, New Hampshire