By Nicole Bullock
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association Award (OECTA) is a prestigious award that acknowledges the academic excellence of a student who qualifies to teach in Roman Catholic Secondary Schools. This year, King’s alumna Alexandra Carey, BA ’14, was awarded the 2015 Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) award following a remarkably successful year at Western’s Faculty of Education.
Carey described herself as shocked and flattered when she was acknowledged as the award recipient for the OETCA award; “It was an affirmation from a professional federation of teachers of my academic efforts”. Based on Carey’s enthusiastic attitude toward teaching, positive leadership, and excellence in scholarships, she was the most appropriate candidate for the award.
Carey graduated from King’s in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Catholic Studies for Teachers (Honors Specialization). Following her four years at King’s, Carey attended Western’s Althouse to complete her teaching qualifications for Intermediate/Senior Religious and Family Studies Education. With successful completion and graduation of King’s Catholic Studies for Teachers program, students are guaranteed admission at Western’s Faculty of Education to complete the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree. “My decision to join the King’s community for my post-secondary education was based equally on what both King’s, as an affiliate to Western University, and the Catholic Studies for Teachers program, had to offer. For me, the added bonus was that this particular program provided an automatic link to a faculty of education upon meeting the necessary expectation of the program,” explains Carey.
As a student in elementary and secondary Catholic school systems, Carey quickly realized she wanted to become a teacher. The CST program at King’s proved to be a perfect match, offering numerous opportunities for practical experience and courses within the religious education field. King’s laid a solid foundation through an introduction of teaching practices, strategies and curriculum. The Catholic Studies courses equip students like Carey with knowledge and pedagogy required to teach the Catholic curriculum, Church dogma, biblical themes, and gospel values. In addition, in the upper years of the CST program students have the privilege to work alongside educators within the London District Catholic School Board. These practicum opportunities allow for the fostering of one’s own preferences and teaching styles even before beginning the Bachelor of Education studies.
Carey explains her time at King’s as an incredible experience that definitely lived up to all her expectations. “King’s provided me with an immense variety of opportunities, ability to explore the teaching profession, and have experiences that deepened by personal faith”.
With the preparation she received from the CST program, Carey felt as if she had a smooth transition into Althouse’s program at Western. Carey felt the greatest change was moving from being treated as a student to being treated as a teacher. The community feel at King’s and Althouse, in conjunction with faculty who foster supportive learning environments, eased the transition to the next step in the process of becoming a teacher.
When asked about any advice for current and incoming students into the CST program, Carey says “be open and flexible to all opportunities that arise. Be willing to work hard and put your entire self into your work, because at the end of the day the more time and efforts you put into your teaching, preparation, courses, and projects, inevitably the more you will learn. Lastly, ensure that you take a minute to enjoy the journey and to reflect. Reflective practice, as I have learned is a key step towards growth, as it opens areas for further inquiry, as well as both professional and faith development.”
For more information on the Catholic Studies for Teachers program at King’s, visit: http://www.kings.uwo.ca/academics/catholic-studies-for-teachers/