|CEHSP senior Alicia Ristow is currently student teaching and has already been offered a long-term substitute position teaching kindergarten after graduation.|
Early memories can have the strongest influence. When she was a girl, Alicia Ristow’s mother went back to school to become a teacher. Inspired by her mother’s example and by memories of a third grade teacher who made learning magical, Ristow is embarking on her own career in elementary education.
Searching for a university, Ristow was drawn to UMD immediately. “I’m a super outdoorsy person – hiking, kayaking, rock climbing. I toured a couple of other colleges, but once I came to UMD, I knew this was where I wanted to be,” she said. She arrived thinking she would pursue criminology as a career, but she soon discovered it wasn’t for her, and she began looking for a new major.
“Since third grade, I’d always been interested in teaching. I had an awesome 3rd grade teacher. She made learning fun with songs, art, skits and making diagrams.” So Ristow began taking education classes, and it all clicked. She quickly found her area of interest too. “I’ve always been a kid person. Right away, I knew I wanted to teach elementary classes,” she said.
College was put on hold for a little while when Ristow had her daughter. “After she was born, I took online courses then eventually went back to classes.” She also worked part-time for UMD Catering.
With no family in Duluth, Ristow is grateful for supportive faculty. “The professors are so great, so understanding if I’ve had a sick child. They’re just wonderful people. I have a great advisor in Jean Stevenson,” she said.
Being awarded the LaJean Roy Firminhac and John M. Firminhac Scholarship as well as the John Jurkovich Scholarship provided Ristow with some much-needed financial assistance. The Firminhac Scholarship is awarded to full-time UMD students in good academic standing, preferably majoring in elementary education, who demonstrate financial need. The Jurkovich Scholarship is also awarded to UMD students majoring in education.
“Receiving two scholarships was amazing. This semester I haven’t had to work. I’ve been able to concentrate on student teaching and on my child,” she said. Ristow, a senior set to graduate in May 2014, already has been offered a long-term substitute position teaching kindergarten.
Her two-year-old daughter is curious about what her mommy does all day. “She knows I teach little kids. She goes to daycare so she has some idea of school. She asks me, 'Did you read books today?'" Perhaps a third generation of educators is in the making. Those who can, discover every moment is a teaching moment.
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, Dec. 2013