For a young secondary teacher, getting a first job at a small school is a little like getting thrown into the deep end of a pool.
Caitlin Griffin, who is in her first-ever teaching job, is teaching seven different classes every day. She teaches English classes from eighth grade through 12th grade, plus mass communication and advanced writing, at Moulton-Udell.
“Sometimes it is awful and sometimes I feel like Superwoman, like I can do anything,” Griffin said. “So it is overwhelming sometimes, but I’ve kind of got a rhythm down, and it’s manageable.”
Griffin, who attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., said she chose education as a major because it fit her interests.
“I always wanted to do something that was more than just sitting in an office all day,” she said. “I wanted to help people. I love English and reading, so it just seemed natural that I combined them into teaching.”
She wasn’t completely sure about her decision, though, until she did her student teaching.
“I did it in a real setting and then I realized that I loved it, so it worked out,” Griffin said.
Still, there is a big difference between the school where she student-taught in Davenport and Moulton-Udell. Griffin said she likes the small atmosphere at Moulton-Udell because she gets to know everyone really well. In two of her classes she gets to know the students especially well: only one student is enrolled in each.
“It is like an independent study,” she said. “It is kind of cool, actually, because I can tailor all my instruction to that one individual student.”
One of those classes is mass communication. One student is not enough to sustain a student newspaper, so the student publishes in the Moulton Tribune in a section called the Screaming Eagle.
Griffin said one thing that has surprised her is how rural Iowa is. She said she considered herself to be from a pretty rural area, a suburb of Peoria, Ill., but found a new definition of “rural” when she got to Moulton.
She said her favorite thing about teaching is the kids.
“They have a lot of energy, and they are still not cynical about the world,” she said. “They surprise me all the time.”