By Sara Nelson
Jessica Klein, a senior studying history and secondary education with a minor in political science, wants to bring her love of teaching and education back to her rural roots.
Klein grew up on a farm outside of Guttenberg, Iowa. She loved the small-town feel, and initially attended a small college.
“I cherish the connections you make growing up in a rural or small town community, whether that be with community members or teachers. I had such a good support system throughout my education, and that continues today,” says Klein.
However, after visiting the University of Iowa, she felt a sense of belonging, and knew the College of Education would give her challenges and opportunities vital to her success as an educator. The caliber of the education program was also a strong draw for Klein. The University of Iowa College of Education is the top-ranked college of education in the state of Iowa, and the Secondary Education Teacher Preparation Program is in the top 2 percent of all such programs nationally, according to rankings from U.S News & World Report and the National Council on Teacher Quality, respectively.
“The College of Education has definitely helped me learn much more about the profession of teaching, and has challenged me in ways I didn't know possible,” says Klein.
Recruiting young talent like Klein to a rural community is critical since it is becoming increasingly challenging to recruit teachers to smaller, rural school districts.
“I think that it is so important to teach in a small town, because sometimes students from smaller communities might feel underserved, or as if they don’t have access to enough resources to succeed after graduation,” says Klein. “I want to help my future students understand that it doesn't matter where you come from, as long as you work hard, you can take even the smallest of opportunities and learn from those. The skills learned can be used in their future, whether it takes them to the biggest city in the world, or right back home to their roots in small town Iowa.”
In additional to the rigor of academics, Klein loves the many extra-curricular and community activities available to round out her education.
Klein participates in many activities at the University of Iowa including Collegiate 4-H, Undergraduate Political Science Association, and Hawkeye Marching Band where she plays alto saxophone. She also volunteers with the Old Capitol Museum and as a docent at Plum Grove Historic Home. In addition to her volunteer work, Klein also works at the University of Iowa Admissions Visitors Center as a transfer intern and reservationist, sharing her experiences with future Hawkeyes.
“Jessica gives her all to every endeavor in which she is involved, which I believe provides a glimpse into the teacher and community leader she will be. Not only will she teach her students well, they will have the good fortune of being in the presence of a caring adult who will support their success in the classroom and in life,” says Nancy Langguth, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning, and mentor to Klein.
Upon graduating in December 2018, Klein wants to gain additional experience as a substitute teacher before finding permanent employment. While her goal is to go back to her rural roots, she would also enjoy experiencing the unique opportunities of a large school district. Klein is also exploring the possibility of becoming a principal or superintendent later in her career.
“The Teacher Education Program has taught me about what is expected of me as an educator, how to handle nearly every situation that I may be faced with, and has provided me with experience to learn more about topics ranging from how to be culturally competent to understanding how teaching contracts work,” says Klein. “Being in Iowa’s Teacher Education Program has made me feel more confident I will leave the University of Iowa prepared.”