Editor's note: Alexandria (Allie) J. Carson is a graduate student at the University of West Alabama and an auxiliary Pre-K teacher at the Campus School in Livingston, Alabama (pop. 3,506). Allie was part of an eight-person University of West Alabama team that participated in our Rural Teacher Corps Project: Stakeholder Dialogue, which was held in June on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota. We want to thank Allie for sharing her reflections on how new rural teachers can become involved in their respective communities.
The Ear Grown From Our Own
By Alexandria J. Carson
"Rising midst the golden cornfields, Tis our Alma Mater true." These are the words of my alma mater from Tuscaloosa County High School. When reflecting upon my visit to South Dakota, the two things that really stood out were the airplane flight and the Corn Palace. The flight itself was an adventure since it was my first! The Corn Palace was a true work of art that was really made of corn. The words of that song began to rise up and take root. In high school, I took pride in that song as well as the colors. Now, as an aspiring highly qualified teacher at the University of West Alabama, I take pride in the future of our children.
During group discussions in South Dakota, I could relate to many things that were being said about why college graduates receive their degrees and move to other areas. Being a part of the "culture," as a newcomer can be very challenging. Instead of giving in to feelings of not belonging in my small college town, I found ways to get involved. I began attending Living Word Church where I met both local people and fellow students. I also became active in extracurricular and service activities. I learned to "be there." I strongly feel that when in a room full of people, there is someone that you are meant to meet. A connection is bound to take place, and in turn, a stepping stone is made. The people whom I have met have made me feel like a valued member of the community. One has to look past the negativities of an area and seek what the future could possibly hold.
Livingston, Alabama has been home for me for the past five years. There is definitely something about this place. The relationships I have had with my teachers have been amazing. They have held my hand throughout my entire undergraduate career. Now, as a graduate student and pre-k auxiliary teacher, I can undoubtedly say that mentorship has played a huge role in my success as a student and as a teacher.
Alexandria J. Carson is a graduate student in the College of Education at the University of West Alabama. She is also a Pre-K Auxiliary teacher at the University of West Alabama's Campus School. Allie is a member of the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI. As an aspiring published author, she strives to be the voice of individuals who fear the sound of their own reality. Allie enjoys reading, writing and helping students reach their full potential. Her hometown is Northport, Alabama.
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Allie Carson visits with other attendees at the Stakeholder Dialogue in Mitchell, South Dakota. (Photo by Michael Knutson)
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