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Getting more graduation caps in the air

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Posted on October 17, 2014 by Wendy Wakefield '12, counseling psychology.

Courtesy: Wendy Wakefield Wendy Wakefield '12, DelVal alumna

Only 59 percent of students attending public and public charter high schools in Washington, D.C., graduate within four years--the lowest rate in the nation. My name is Wendy Wakefield and I graduated from Delaware Valley College in 2012 with a degree in counseling psychology. I am now a high school special education mathematics teacher in our nation’s capital.  I became a teacher because I believe everyone has the right to a quality education, and not everyone receives that, especially our youth. Young people who leave school without the skills and knowledge they need are less able to provide a decent quality of life. As a teacher, it is my job to make sure that the students I teach can obtain the education that they deserve, especially those students with disabilities who are often overlooked.

When I graduated from DelVal, I was bound for graduate school to become a school guidance counselor. After completing a year of service with the educational nonprofit City Year in Philadelphia, I realized my passion was still in the school system, just in a different capacity. I realized that I wanted to be on the front lines of education, and made the choice to apply to teacher preparation programs.

I joined Urban Teacher Center (UTC) in June 2013, sharing their belief that the most important factor that determines student outcome is quality teaching. After an intensive residency year, I am now a 9th and 11th grade special education mathematics teacher at H.D. Woodson Senior High School.

My DelVal education has allowed me to be extremely successful in my current work as a special educator. Not only do I teach three different algebra classes, but I also manage a caseload of students, overseeing their education and modifying their individual learning plans. DelVal gave me the knowledge, tools, and skills to be successful in my field; coming into the workforce having background knowledge in mental and educational disabilities was a leg up. Not only did DelVal teach me the fundamentals of various disabilities, I gained knowledge of multicultural competencies, which applies to my work with urban youth and their families everyday. I have been able to successfully communicate with families, provide background knowledge on my students’ educational and psychological disabilities, and collaborate with social workers and psychologists to meet my students’ needs. The similarities between psychology and special education are extensive. My strong background in psychology has allowed me to be very successful in teaching students with disabilities and providing them with a quality education.

I am currently finishing up my dual master’s degree (paid for through UTC) in special education and secondary mathematics education through Lesley University. With my prior education from DelVal, I have been able to meet the rigorous expectations of graduate school while successfully maintaining a 3.9 GPA. I love the work that I do, and Delaware Valley College opened the door to a successful career in special education. I am forever grateful for the experience and education I received while I was there.