Dylan France ’18 likes to joke that it took him seven years to finish his four-year degree.
“It took me a while to figure out where I belonged, and what I wanted to do,” he said. At one time, he thought he wanted to be a music teacher. He chose SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music because of its great reputation, and because his high school music teachers were Crane graduates. However, as “luck” would have it, he was not accepted into Crane, which he now says was “the greatest thing” for him, because he realized that his true calling was to be an elementary school teacher. Because SUNY Potsdam’s education program was also first-rate, France chose to major in early childhood/childhood education, with a minor in geology. He went on to complete his student teaching in fourth grade at Canastota and first grade in Oneida elementary schools.
Through these amazing opportunities in the form of scholarships and my education at SUNY Potsdam, I have been able to begin my dream career as an elementary educator.”
“My student teaching experiences were amazing! It is hard to believe that my first classroom teaching experience began a little over one year ago. During my first placement, I was in a fourth-grade classroom. The students I worked with required me to make the transition from student to teacher quickly! Throughout those first eight weeks, I was able to develop my whole group classroom management skills and the delivery of literacy-based instruction,” France said.
In March of 2018, France began his second eight-week placement in a first-grade classroom at Oneida Elementary School—his first time working with very younger students. “This placement pushed me to be a better teacher. I will never forget one specific math lesson about three weeks into the placement. After spending the weekend planning and creating electronic resources, the lesson completely failed, leaving the students bored and confused. Following the lesson, I had a long discussion with my sponsor teacher about planning Math lessons for students in first grade,” France said.
Reflecting on why he chose to become a teacher, France credits his own teachers who impacted his life so much. He wanted to emulate them – to create a great learning environment for his own students, as his teachers had done for him.
Unfortunately, life dealt him another curveball when, in his junior year, his federal financial aid ran out because he had completed too many college credits without graduating. “I had no idea how I was going to pay for college,” he admitted. Thankfully, he was eligible to receive the Alumni Scholarship and the Virginia Rose Cayey Scholarship.
Receiving these scholarships was “the most important thing that happened to me during my college career,” France said. The scholarships allowed him to stay in school, and he stay on track to complete his degree in May 2018.
Following graduation last May, France immediately found a month-long substitute teaching position in a fourth-grade classroom within the Hannibal Central School District. This position opened the door to a tenure track position as a first-grade teacher within the same district.
“Despite having a phenomenal student teaching experience, nothing could have prepared me for where I am now. In my first six months of teaching, I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. It has been simply amazing! Through these amazing opportunities in the form of scholarships and my education at SUNY Potsdam, I have been able to begin my dream career as an elementary educator,” he said.
For more information about the teacher education program, visit: www.potsdam.edu/academics/SOEPS/teacher-education