Miranda Talley Reagan
Class Year: 2007
Major at MC: Child Develop and Learning with Teacher License
Senior Thesis Topic: “Best Methods in Elementary Mathematics Instruction"
Current Town/City of Residence: Maryville, Tennessee
Occupation: 3rd Grade Teacher, Sam Houston Elementary
Family: Mike Talley, grandfather (graduated 1960); David Talley, father (attended 1979-1980); Mark Talley, uncle (attended 1978-1980); Jake Reagan, brother-in-law (graduated 2007); Landon Talley, cousin (graduated 2014); Brooks Talley, cousin (class of 2016); Ellie Talley, cousin (class of 2017)
Describe your career path since graduating from MC.
After graduating from Maryville College, I began my teaching career at Sam Houston Elementary as a 4th grade teacher. Five years in, Maryville City Schools implemented STEM in classes in all grade levels (K-12), and I became the elementary STEM lab teacher at Sam Houston. In this position, I was able to develop the vision and curriculum for STEM at Sam Houston. During that time, we as a school began to discover how the design process associated with STEM could be used to allow students to practice grade-level standards by creatively applying them to real-world situations. I began to help teachers develop STEM-infused lesson plans to integrate their classroom learning in design projects. At that time, I was also the technology coordinator for the school during the period in which Maryville City Schools began casting a vision for 1:1 technology integration in the classrooms. I served on the team that helped develop iReach, our 1:1 mobile device initiative. As we began to discover ways that STEM and technology could better prepare students as 21st century learners, I moved out of the classroom and spent a year as Instructional Coach for STEM and Technology Integration at Sam Houston. Although I learned so much from this opportunity, I desperately missed interacting with kiddos and requested to move back into the classroom. This year, I have a wonderful class of third graders. In my STEM-infused, 1:1 iPad classroom, we focus on student ownership, 21st-century readiness, risk-taking, and application of knowledge. This is literally my dream job!
Maryville College taught me to embrace change and innovation but also to be reflective. This balance between looking towards the future and valuing the past has played a huge role in getting me to where I am in my career.
Describe your job or a typical day “in the office.”
My job is an adventure every day. Our morning starts with reading instruction. Due to changes in the social studies standards, we have themed our reading instruction around social studies topics so our reading instruction is taking us on an adventure to learn about cultures around the world. Using a combination of print and digital resources, the students are learning how to read for understanding, analyze texts, and apply their learning in creative ways. Next, we do enrichment intervention time. During this time block, students apply their reading, math, science, and social studies skills in project-based activities. Then, we have math time in which students learn math processes, primarily through hands-on activities. Our day ends with science instruction in which we also do a combination of hands-on activities, informational text interaction, and creative projects. Although these are the items on my "typical" daily schedule, some of my favorite parts of the day come in the unpredictable moments... watching students develop collaboration skills as they brainstorm ideas for a design challenge, sitting with a student who just needs to talk life for a few minutes before they can worry about academics, watching as students choose to try something hard because they know it will stretch their brains, or seeing one student extend compassion to another.
What has been your most exciting/enjoyable professional experience to date?
Although I have had several big moments in my teaching career, the most enjoyable part of my job is found in the daily interactions- seeing a child give it their all when something is difficult, facilitating student interactions and watching young kids embrace leadership roles, hearing kind words spoken from one child to another, those magical moments when students make insightful connections, and receiving a big hug or smile from a child who struggles to let people in.
How did your MC experience prepare you for your vocation and/or life?
Before MC, I was very much an in-the-box, playing-it-safe kind of person. During my time there, I learned...
...to embrace the adventure of life through experiences like hiking through the rainforest and feeding Cheetos to monkeys during J-Term in Venezuela with Senora Pamfil.
...to be brave and challenge commonly held assumptions for the sake of progress from Dr. Lucas.
...to care about the children as children first and students second from Dr. Simpson.
...that no matter how far along in your teaching career you are, objectives and assessment will always be essential components of a good lesson from Dr. Orren.
Maryville College changed me. And when I graduated, I still had no idea how much the lessons I learned during those years would continue to shape the person I am becoming.
Complete this sentence: "I'm glad that Maryville College still ______________.
I am glad Maryville College still does a great job preparing teachers for the classroom. I've had several pre-service teachers in my classroom this year, and they constantly impress me with their depth of questions to students and to me, their professionalism, and their enthusiasm. The energy they bring to the classroom gets me so psyched for what education will look like in the coming years!
What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
I have a five-year-old who is creative and loving and energetic and snuggly and curious. My husband and I have so much fun doing life with him! We love to play with Legos, watch movies, color, write, read, and generally just be together.
I also work with Faith Promise Church's student ministry, primarily with 9th grade girls.
What is your best memory from your time at MC?
I wrote an open letter to incoming freshman at the beginning of this school year and it pretty much sums up what I remember most about MC:
Dear Incoming Freshmen,
As you are beginning your first year of college, I am beginning my 9th year in "the real world." At risk of sounding like an old person who may or may not be in touch with what life is like for an 18-year-old, I have some completely unsolicited advice that I would like to share with the Maryville College Class of 2019.
Here is what I wish I had realized over a decade ago when I was in your place: The greatest assets that MC provides for you as a student are relationships with the faculty. On your first day of class, most of your professors will tell you, "If you need help with anything, come see me." Most of us translate this as, "If you need any help applying trigonometric functions, or effectively integrating technology into the instructional process, come see me." But that is only a fraction of their intention. Instead, what they mean is:
- "If I can help you set goals for life after college, let me know."
- "If I can help you understand how the content of my class will help you achieve this goal, let me know."
- "If I can mentor you as to what path you need to take in order to reach your goal, let me know."
- "If I can speak to you as a person and help you develop the soft skills you need to meet your goal, let me know."
- "If you need a perspective-check to remind you of the big picture, let me know."
- "If there is something completely unrelated to your program that you are stressing over, let me know."
These people care about you as people. Looking back, I see this. This faculty is not just a group of teachers and academic advisors, they are mentors and life coaches.
- Dr. Lucas and Dr. Orren started building my leadership potential while I still saw myself as an awkward introvert. They saw the vision for my life long before I did.
- Señora Pamfil worked out a way for me to get my minor in Spanish and still graduate with my class, even though I was a second year transfer. Not only that, but she has continued to teach me more about faith in the storms of life than anyone else over the past decade.
- A couple years ago, Dr. Conning reminded me of a model lesson that my group taught in her class sophomore year. I had forgotten all about it, but she remembered it in detail. I wasn't just another student… it wasn't just another project.
- Dr. Ribble banned the term "math phobia"from my vocabulary. I came to MC having taken college algebra twice my freshman year. She went back and rebuilt my foundational math knowledge in order that everything I had been confused about for years made sense. As a direct result, no student ever leaves my own class believing he or she is "stupid in math."
- By his example, Dr. Simpson taught me how to make my secular classroom a mission field. He showed me how to love and serve my students and colleagues with humility.
I could go on and on with these examples. This faculty is not made up of flat characters that exist in an isolated world of academia. They are experts in their respective disciplines but also passionate facilitators of whole-person growth. They care about people and relationships and faith and equity and integrity.
So when the faculty makes the offer, "If you need help with anything, come see me,"take them up on. They're going to grow you anyway, but imagine how much more you might grow if you are pursuing that growth.