Amanda Simm’s passion for teaching children began in middle school. It was then that she first volunteered at the Mayo Beach Adaptive Day Camp in Maryland for children with disabilities. She liked the camp so much that she returned for seven consecutive summers, rising from being a volunteer to the lead counselor.
The next step in her journey was enrolling at the University of Pittsburgh for the School of Education’s CASE teacher preparation program. In five years the program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in applied developmental psychology and a master’s degree in special education. Students are prepared for both the Pennsylvania PK-4 General Education and PK-8 Special Education teacher certifications..
“In addition to all the interesting classes I’ve taken, I’ve really loved getting to learn and work with people who are interested in and passionate about the same issues as I am,” said Simms, who is in her senior year.
In support of her studies, Simms received the Eartha L. William Endowed Fund from the Pitt School of Education. Created through the generosity of a donor to further the University’s equity and justice goals, the award provides support for educational expenses for students in either the Elementary Education Professional Year program or the Elementary Education Master of Arts in Teaching program in the School of education.
Simms also received the inaugural Katherine George Eberly Endowed Scholarship, which was established by Robert E. Eberly, Jr. in honor of his wife. This scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students in their junior or senior year or to master’s students who have an interest in teaching upon completion of their degree. Preference is given to students from underrepresented groups.
Simms feels prepared as a future teacher due to her practicum experiences in the CASE program. She previously completed a six-week student teaching experience in a pre-K classroom at Concord Elementary School in the City of Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood and student teaching assignment in the kindergarten classroom of Colfax K-8 in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
“I work with students in small group instruction and pull students out of the classroom to complete assessments. Recently, I have begun to lead the whole class in group instruction,” said Simms.
The CASE program at the Pitt School of Education has also opened up Simms’ eyes to larger issues of the education system. One of them is the persistent disparities in school along racial and socioeconomic lines.
“Before I entered Pitt’s School of Education, I never quite realized how inequitable the American school system is. I know now that it’s necessary for future teachers not only to know how to teach but to fight for justice and equity in education,” said Simms.
Her scholarship is something for which Simms is thankful.
“I have always been very aware of the cost of my education and have to admit at times it has caused me stress. Receiving this scholarship support has lifted a burden off my shoulders and allowed me to focus more wholeheartedly on my studies,” said Simms.
By choosing to study at Pitt, Simms has ignited a passion that began as a camp volunteer and will continue next as a future teacher.
About the CASE teacher certification program at Pitt Education
About giving and scholarship options to support the Pitt School of Education
About the annual Pitt Day of Giving celebration held on the University of Pittsburgh’s founder’s day