Heather Shainline

Heather Shainline’s Passion for teaching

ShainlineTeaching young children to love and appreciate any subject is much easier when they know they are loved and valued by their teacher. For Heather Shainline ‘12, an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA), loving the children she works with comes as second nature.

Today she is one of 16 VISTAs working through the Pennsylvania Campus Compact. This specific program aids college campuses that are passionate about improving at-risk K-12 student success, increasing college access for at-risk high school students and extending food access for low-income families. The Compact’s overall goal is to help bring these individuals and their families out of poverty.

As part of her VISTA commitment, Shainline is working in collaboration with Alvernia’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement to grow the Alvernia READS program— a natural fit for her love of teaching. In doing so, she is playing a role to make a difference in a nation where more than half of kids below the poverty line are not read to daily.

Without a solid basis for reading and a developed love of reading, children from low-income families are showing a more than 40-point gap on reading comprehension tests between themselves and children from high-income families.

“Heather is a remarkably compassionate and capable young woman with a passion for working with children and is a perfect fit for the Alvernia READS program,” said Jay Worrall, director of the Holleran Center. “She is the latest of many outstanding VISTA workers who have made an impact at the Holleran Center.”

Shainline is using her experience as a VISTA to work with the underprivileged and at-risk youth she wants to teach in the future. “I want to be out there. I want to have a classroom…my hopes and my dreams are to teach,” she said.

Her affinity for education is nothing new. In fact, it began when she was a youngster. As far back as preschool, she had always wanted to teach. Attending a small, Catholic high school set her up perfectly to fall in love with Alvernia years later. “At a university like Alvernia, where community service is well understood and appreciated, and the campus community well loved, and well developed, I fit right in,” said Shainline.

As an education major, she had the opportunity to student teach during her last semester. “I loved being where I was. I loved teaching all the kids. I loved the atmosphere. I loved telling people what I was doing,” she said.

Last May, Shainline received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with the intent to teach as soon as possible, but fate led her first to a year in the national AmeriCorps VISTA program –and the opportunity to put her passion in action.

Did you know?

A National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America's Promise study found that participating employers and recent college graduates agreed on the necessity of out of the classroom experiences. The study emphasizes the importance of providing students with important knowledge and skills but also experience putting that knowledge and skills to practical use in "real-world" settings.

Did you know?

Seventy-six percent of participating employers put "teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group settings" at the top of their list of desired capabilities in new employees, according to a National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America's Promise study. These are among the skills fostered by real-world learning experiences.

Did you know?

Service learning is a method of providing personal and academic development through work with established nonprofit organizations in the community. It is an avenue to introduce students to a professional environment without the extensive commitments of an internship.

Did you know?

Service learning provides ideal real world learning opportunities. According to SmartBlog on Leadership, doing volunteer and service work for a non-profit organization that is connected to your major or academic program of study helps develop leadership skills, expands your perspective of the world, allows you to discover new skills in a safe environment, and develops a larger network of real world contacts to draw upon once you graduate.

Did you know?

Service learning can take you outside of your comfort zone, giving you an opportunity to work with new challenges, people, politics and interpersonal dynamics. It also offers new perspective on priorities. Hanging out with people who have had different life experiences encourages you to tackle challenges from different angles. Julie Zolfo, founder of Make Success Matter said that she volunteered for six weeks at the schools in New Delhi, India.

Did you know?

"Alvernia's Career Development Center works with students to find avenues for employment, internships, co-ops, career exploration, resume development, and graduate school options. Center staff help students assess their options and identify their own "brand" to complement their life after Alvernia.

Did you know?

A recent career fair at Alvernia attracted more than 55 employers who were seeking to hire employees, co-ops and interns for their organizations. Career fairs like this one are fertile ground for students seeking real world learning opportunities and to reap the benefits of such as employers look to to hire staff members who have honed their skills and abilities via practical experiences in real situations.

Did you know?

Since its inception, Alvernia has offered real world opportunities with an emphasis on service and careers that help those in need. Field experiences in areas like criminal justice, social work, nursing, occupational therapy, health care science and teacher training among others provide our students with rich learning opportunities to test drive what it's like to work in that profession.

Did you know?

In a recent American Association of Colleges and Universities survey of 302 employers, 79 percent said institutions of higher learning should emphasize helping students apply what they learn in real-world settings, and 66 percent said that completing an internship or community field project would help prepare students for success.