It's nice to be wanted, and nobody knows that better than Heather Neeley.
Neeley, an English major and secondary education minor from Piggott, Ark., who will graduate from Ozarks on May 15, has had 11 job interview opportunities and three job offers since she began applying for teaching jobs in late-March. She’s actually been on six different interviews in the past month.
"To be honest with you, I was completely shocked to get 11 interview opportunities in just over a month," said Neeley. "I thought I might have to just take whatever job I could find, but I had no idea I would have several schools to choose from. By the time I went on my sixth interview, I felt like an old pro at it. I was completely at ease."
Heather Neeley, who will graduate with a major in English and a minor in secondary education, has accepted a job to teach 10th through 12th grade English in eastern Arkansas.
Neeley has accepted a job to teach 10th through 12th grade English in the East Poinsett County School District in eastern Arkansas. She credits her teaching portfolio that she attached to her resume for increasing her job opportunities. The portfolio, which is part of the teacher education program’s Internship I course, includes such things as lesson plans, projects she has worked on, Praxis scores, and a behavior management plan.
"I think that portfolio that we are required to do here at Ozarks was one thing that set my resume a part from others," said Neeley. "It’s great to have that at the end of your resume where they can actually see all the things you’ve done and how well-prepared you are for the classroom. I heard from several administrators who told me how impressed they were with the portfolio. I think that made a big difference for me."
Neeley also credits mock interviews that teacher education students are required to participate in as part of the Internship II course.
"We’ve had a lot of opportunities to go through the interview process and talk about our philosophy of education and why we want to be a teacher," Neeley said. "I think our professors make sure we’re very prepared for the interview process and set us up for success."
Neeley, who did her student-teaching in the Clarksville School District, said her Ozarks professors have prepared her well for a career in the classroom.
"The thing that I think they do so well is to give you the skills and ability to think on your feet and adapt," said Neeley. "There’s no cookie-cutter solution to situations that might arise in the classroom and you have to be prepared for anything."
Neeley, who has worked on the Falstaff literary magazine all four years at Ozarks, will help develop a student newspaper and parent newsletter for her new school district. She also will work on bringing new classroom technology to the district.
"My experience working with Falstaff was a big advantage for me in the interview process," she said. "From my time at Ozarks and also with the Clarksville district, I’ve had the opportunity to work with new classroom technology and I am excited about bringing some things I’ve learned into that school district. There’s a lot of potential there."
Neeley, who came to Ozarks undecided about what she wanted to major in, said she is excited about teaching English and literature to high school students.
"When I took my first English class at Ozarks with Dr. [Brian] Hardman, I was hooked," Neeley said. "I’ve always loved to read, but here at Ozarks I learned to love the ideas and the deep discussions about the literature. I can’t wait to share that passion with my students."