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Student Profile: Gayle Swannack, Bachelor’s in Elementary Education
Gayle Swannack — a graduate of CityU’s bachelor’s in elementary education program — is a sixth-through eighth-grade special education ILC teacher at Dimmitt Middle School. Earlier this year, Gayle was honored as Renton’s Teacher of the Month. Swannack attended CityU majoring in elementary education (kindergarten through eighth-grade) with a special education endorsement. Before becoming a teacher, Swannack spent 10 years working as a para-educator.
Recently, we caught up with Gayle as she shared about her CityU experiences.
City University of Seattle (CU): How long have you been an educator?
Gayle Swannack (GS): I have been an educator for 11 years. How long have you been at Dimmitt? I have been at Dimmitt for the past two years.
CU: Why did you become an educator or when did you know education was the field for you?
GS: My journey as an educator started in 2001 when I went to work as a para-educator. I started as a sub, and then was hired full-time in the same position and immediately found this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I did not start my teaching career until I was 44 this goes to show that it is never too late!
CU: As teacher, what are some of the greatest challenges you face in moving your students forward?
GS: Because I teach special education I face many challenges on a daily basis. The biggest one for me is poverty and family life. I can control the classroom environment but when my students go home I cannot control what they hear, see, or are faced with. Some of my students do not get three meals a day so when summer comes around I worry that they will not have enough to eat.
CU: Which program did you pursue at CityU and what was your experience like?
GS: The program I pursued at City U was the alternative route to certification. I loved my experience at City U. The instructors were knowledgeable, caring and really wanted us to be successful. I felt encouraged and supported throughout my program not only from my instructors but also the directors of my cohort. From the first time I walked into the Bellevue campus I was greeted with a smile and this same pleasant friendly environment continued throughout my program.
CU: Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for CityU students training to enter the classroom for the first time?
GS: My words of encouragement would be to never give up. You will face frustrations and may feel at one point that you want to give up. Push forward and the benefits will definitely outweigh the frustrations in the end. I would also say do not be afraid to ask questions. If you do not know what to do in any given situation please ask a fellow co-worker or an administrator for guidance. Another word of advice would be to collaborate with as many of your colleagues as you can. Collaboration is a must in our profession and you will get some great ideas, advice and support from those around you.
Thank you for your time Gayle and congratulations on your success!