From Student to Teacher [Feature Article]

Hailing from North Branch, Minnesota less than an hour from Saint Paul, Mikayla Hensch grew up hearing about Hamline from her father, who attended for his own degree.
When she toured for herself, the decision was made.
“I toured in 10th grade and I fell in love with the small campus within the cities,” Hensch said.
Once here, Hensch knew in freshman year she wanted to be a teacher.
“But [I] wasn’t sure between Social Studies and English,” she said. “I chose English because I think reading and writing skills are so important for students to learn.”
Officially, she declared her double major as Secondary Education and English with a minor in Communication studies.
“I am also really passionate about communication skills,” she said in explaining her minor. “I would love to teach high school public speaking or another communication class.”
Early on, Hensch found her new student mentor to be a huge help as she transitioned to college, which is part of why the next year she became a NSM herself and continued this for three years total. Beyond that, she wanted to be an NSM to help bridge the gap she sees between athletes and non-athletes.
“I really wanted to make a difference at Hamline and help students transition into college, just like my NSM helped me.”
IMG_3207 (2)Besides being an NSM, Hensch was captain of the Track & Field team her senior year and a Lead Ambassador in the Admissions offer for two years.


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Two weeks before graduation, Hensch set the school record in the 4 X 100 meter relay, her second major accomplishment following her 2015 title of “Most Improved.”
But out of all she’s done here, she’s most proud of her work connecting her dual major. Intersecting her education degree with English literature was the goal for Hensch when she created a lesson plan for a recent publication The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

“It is historical fiction about a former slave who escapes and travels north. I was drawn to the book because it would pair nicely with a unit in social studies on slavery,” she said. “I also liked that the book had unreal elements such as a literal underground railroad amidst a historical story.”

Using the book as a tool, she created a lesson to discuss character development and author choice versus intent. In the future, she hopes to bring this plan into a classroom.

In her senior seminar, she furthered her goal of connecting the two areas of study with a paper on how readers interact with narrative closure. In the first paragraph, she outlines her argument:

The debate around closure in narrative has been studied and written about extensively by many scholars of narrative and literature. Within the field of education, there has also been much research and literature written on childhood development, developing readers and how they interact with and learn to read narrative. Still, these two fields have had little interaction with each other, creating a gap in both education and narrative studies. Amidst the extensive studies and literature on narrative closure, few have engaged with specific populations of readers such as younger developing readers. In combining the studies of narrative closure with the studies of reading development in young readers, new notions of narrative closure can be examined as focus is given to a new age group of readers who are experiencing important developmental milestones. Looking at specific populations of readers will open up and complicate our understandings of this notion of closure, and furthermore, narrative itself.  Developing readers both want closure in narrative and don’t want closure as it means their narrative experiences come to an end.

In the future, following her graduation, Hensch moves to stuScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 4.41.33 PM (1)dent-teaching in the fall. Then, she hopes to work as a substitute until she can get a full-time position in a high school.

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A longstanding tradition, Hensch displays her grade on her fingers. This year, she started 17th grade.

As she moves on, she’ll miss learning new things every day and seeing friends around campus, but she’s ready to apply everything she’s learned to her own classroom.

“I am excited to turn theory into practice,” she said looking forward.

Which grade she’ll be bringing her expertise to is so far unknown, but on thing is sure, following graduation Hensch is ready to go from being a student to a teacher.

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