Aspiring Educators Connect in New Living-Learning Community
This fall, Lewis & Clark launched the Aspiring Educators Living-Learning Community in Copeland Hall. The new community supports undergraduates who are interested in education careers via L&C’s five-year BA/MAT Teacher Pathways program.
by Tara Elsa BA ’26
Lewis & Clark College’s new Aspiring Educators Living-Learning Community (LLC), which opened this fall, unites undergraduates interested in education careers. Aspiring Educators is a collaboration between two of Lewis & Clark’s schools: the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Education and Counseling.
The new LLC connects to the institution’s Teacher Pathways Program, established more than a decade ago, which helps students earn a BA and a master of arts in teaching (MAT) in five years.
Lewis & Clark undergraduate students can register for Teacher Pathways as incoming or current students. While in Teacher Pathways, students meet with their Teacher Pathways advisor and have access to enroll in undergraduate education courses with a social justice focus. These courses are taught by graduate faculty—allowing students to establish relationships with the very professors whom they will learn from as graduate students.
The Aspiring Educators LLC is part of Copeland, an undergraduate residence hall on campus. The LLC currently has 16 members, including 8 in-house members and 8 out-of-house members. Like other LLCs at Lewis & Clark, Aspiring Educators allows students of any class year who live outside of the affiliated dorm to apply as out-of-house members.
The LLC kicked off the academic year with a meet-and-greet event in September, where members learned about each other’s goals and started to get to know fellow members and faculty.
Grace Billings BA ’24, the resident advisor for Aspiring Educators. “Starting an entirely new community has its challenges, but we have almost tripled our membership since the beginning of the school year! Being able to see how much we have grown already is extremely inspiring, and it makes me excited to see just how much progress the community will make over time.”“One of my main goals for the LLC is to make it a community where people with a shared interest in education can find belonging in each other,” says
Carissa Zall, instructor in teacher education and social studies coordinator at the graduate school, has helped develop the new LLC. She says that building connections at the undergraduate level will help make the transition to graduate school and teaching much smoother and more meaningful. Aspiring Educators members have the opportunity to interact with graduate students one-on-one, at school or outside of school, or sit in on education classes on the graduate campus.
The Aspiring Educators LLC will be sponsoring activities throughout the academic year, including movie nights, educational events, special guest speakers, group talks, and hands-on experience in K-12 schools. Students can also get advice about which undergraduate courses will best prepare them for the transition to graduate school and teaching. Through these connections and experiences, undergraduate students will gain a significant advantage when applying to the graduate school’s Teacher Education Program.
Zall shares that she’s excited to create connections with students on the undergraduate campus “so that the graduate school doesn’t seem so mysterious.”
She encourages any student thinking about a career in education to apply to the LLC, even if they are unsure if they are going to become a teacher or attend graduate school. “I invite anyone interested in teaching to think about joining because community is the best way to be on this path.”
Billings has already taken this advice. “After I graduate, I plan on attending Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling. I plan to earn my master’s degree and become a kindergarten teacher!”