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Ashley Saunders

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.

Before Columbia, I was living in Washington, DC for three years and working as an Office Manager for a private educational counseling firm in Bethesda, Maryland. My work experience provided me with the opportunity to engage with passionate, caring, intelligent, and talented educators from all fields of experience. I enjoyed seeing them work to provide a safe yet challenging learning environment for their students and watching their students respond to their instruction. Around my senior year of undergrad, I realized I might want to be a teacher. Spending the time I did at my previous job before studying at Columbia really solidified my desire to teach.

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

I chose to do my MAT in Art Education at Columbia for a few reasons. The first was the K-12 certification. During the application process, I realized that not every MAT program certifies, and the ones that do only offer K-8 or secondary certificates. I really liked the flexibility of a K-12 certificate, since it will allow me to apply to more jobs next year! Another reason why I chose Columbia was the location. Who doesn’t want to study education in downtown Chicago and get field experience in a large urban school district like CPS? I also chose Columbia for my MAT because of the Special Education endorsement. I felt it was a unique opportunity to get a Masters in Art Education and also leave the program with the ability to become a Special Ed. teacher.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.

I am currently an intern in the Education Department of the Adler Planetarium. I recently completed a project with them called the Space Explorers Club (SEC). The SEC is a NASA-funded after-school program that the Adler does with some schools in the Chicago Public Schools District. Middle school students come in after the day is done to learn about things like the solar system, our galaxy, and space survival. Now that SEC is finished for the year, I am working with the Adler to add lesson plans pertaining to art and space science to their new teacher resource website called ZooTeach.