Rachel Emmitt has always known that she wanted to become a teacher, in part, thanks to the amazing elementary teachers she had in school. When it came time for her to apply to undergraduate programs, CU Boulder’s elementary education program stood out for its opportunities to be close to her family in Lakewood, Colorado, and to a part of the inaugural graduating class in the School of Education’s elementary education bachelor’s degree program.
The program, which combines elementary teacher education and the culturally and linguistically diverse education (CLD) endorsement, focuses on anti-racist, justice-centered learning where future teachers create classrooms that are welcoming to all students, and this ethic aligns with Emmitt’s goals as an educator.
“As I have grown older, my love for teaching has grown as I have become passionate about providing students with equitable learning experiences and narrowing achievement gaps that typically stem from systematic barriers related to race and socioeconomic status,” she said.
Emmitt and her peers often see themselves as agents of change, who advocate in solidarity with minoritized students and their families. Throughout their final semester, elementary education students have been exploring teaching through action-research projects. They also gain ample experience in K-12 classrooms, including navigating pandemic-related changes in teaching, and Emmitt is particularly grateful for all that time working in classrooms and with mentor teachers.
Just like the original teachers and role models who help guide Emmitt towards a career in education, today her mentors from CU Boulder and local schools have helped her grow as an educator.
As I have grown older, my love for teaching has grown as I have become passionate about providing students with equitable learning experiences and narrowing achievement gaps that typically stem from systematic barriers related to race and socioeconomic status."
Her instructors and mentor teachers commend Emmitt’s dedicated and reflective practice, and they noted she has produced some of the strongest academic work they have seen from an undergraduate student.
“Rachel is a quietly observant and reflective person with a shrewd eye towards injustices in schools and society and a deep joy and appreciation for working with children,” noted the program faculty in selecting Emmitt as the 2021 Outstanding Graduate for Elementary Education.
“Rachel takes in everything she reads and hears from others, engages deeply with ideas, and observes the dynamics of schooling closely so that she can mull things over and then generate deeply reflective standpoints with a sharp critique of injustices.”
Not only are her professors excited to see Emmitt bring her thoughtful and critically reflective standpoints into her classrooms, they also believe these gifts will benefit her professional learning communities and inspire others to teach in ways that can change the world for better.
For Emmitt, graduating from CU Boulder with a BA in elementary education and the CLD endorsement reflects the skills, knowledge, experience and accreditation she needs to confidently begin teaching, and she is grateful for all the time spent in classrooms. She hopes to secure a teaching position in the Denver-metro area, once again, to remain close to family and launch her career as a critical educator to stay true to her heart.
“What drives my passion for after graduation is the privilege of working with students and getting to be impactful in their schooling experiences,” she said. “As an educator, I am passionate about providing my students with equitable learning experiences, where each student feels valued, appreciated, and safe in a classroom community.”