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Jessica Hintz
Elementary Education
Tappen, ND

Jessica did her homework when evaluating college alternatives. She toured no fewer than 5 campuses and was on the way to tour even more. "During one visit, I mentioned to the counselor that I was considering going into education, and she actually recommended that I tour VCSU. She was right... the same day I toured VCSU, I turned in my application for admission."

One reason VCSU is highly recommended for students going into education is that VCSU was founded over 100 years ago as a "normal school" – a school that prepares K-12 teachers for the classroom. Over the years, VCSU has changed in many ways, but its commitment to teacher education has remained. To this day, VCSU is known for having one of the best teacher education programs in the area.

Jessica's intended major is Elementary Education. But she is not looking for a typical classroom; she wants to teach on a reservation. "I started thinking along those lines when I heard about the experience of one my instructors: Joan Aus. Joan taught at Pine Ridge and told us teaching on a reservation is a challenging job that isn't meant for everyone. She also told us what a wonderful and rewarding experience it was for her, and now, I'm looking forward to it!"

Teaching from experience is one of the things that Jessica likes most about Ms. Aus. "Joan is a really great teacher. She teaches from the text, but since she has also been a teacher, she can teach us from her own experience. She talks to us as peers, so we can relate to her on the same level. This plus her energy and enthusiasm make her a great teacher."

But even having great teachers won't be much help if you can't learn from them, and Jessica thinks access is one of VCSU's best assets. "At VCSU, the professors know you one-on-one, and they are willing to work with you both during class and after class. If you ever have to send them an e-mail, they always respond right away. You are not just a number; you know them on a personal level."

Another advantage: every student makes a difference. "I nominated Don Hoff for the 2007 Teacher of the Year award, and he won!" she said. "I doubt that could have happened at a larger campus."

Campus life is also a plus for VCSU, according to Jessica. "I live in McCoy Hall, and I really like it. Living on campus is so convenient; everything is right here. This is a lot easier, especially during the winter. My RA has been really good at putting on little extra things that make a big difference. Last night, we had a little get-together and just played a little trivia game. It is stuff like this that makes it easier to get to know other people in the dorms."