Class of 2022: Maelee Hearington
“Ever since I can remember, working with youth has been in my personal plan for my career goals.” Maelee is from Chester, VA, and is graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Youth and Social Innovation, as well as her Master of Teaching in Elementary Education.
What inspired you to choose a career in education?
Ever since I can remember, working with youth has been in my personal plan for my career goals. I have five adopted cousins, and it has been a joy to witness them grow and flourish in a way that respects their individual backgrounds and cultural histories while also honoring and loving them equally as part of our family. I knew that I wanted to inspire this kind of genuine love of children in whatever career path was right for me. After taking some courses in education, I knew that I wanted to spend the better part of my adult life in the place where most children go for the vast majority of their waking hours: the classroom.
Why did you choose the UVA School of Education & Human Development for your program of study?
UVA itself is a stunning campus and a nationally renowned public university. Growing up south of Richmond, VA, Charlottesville was close enough to home but far enough where I was exploring a new part of Virginia while learning more about myself as well. The Education School surprised me with its tight-knit feel. Entering UVA as a College of Arts and Sciences student, I was struck by how intentional the courses were in the Education School. From personal faculty interactions to small class sizes and deeply passionate classmates, I quickly transferred to the Education School to study Youth and Social Innovation while also maintaining my degree in Religious Studies in the College. Realizing that the classroom called me, I also applied to the B/MT Elementary Education program. This way, I had the best of three worlds: the close community of the Education School, the wonderful, larger public school feel of the College, and a teaching-specific program that catered particularly to my niche interest of teaching elementary students.
What is the most significant thing that has shaped your time here?
Seeing as I have taken teacher education courses throughout my four years here and currently the B/MT program is defining my last year at UVA, I would feel remiss to not list it as the most significant thing that has shaped my time. I have had the privilege to learn so much about my fellow B/MTs as professionals and as fellow students, I have grown so much with professors who have also been classroom teachers, and I have learned from mentor teachers and clinical coaches who yearn for my success as eagerly as I do.
What is one thing you learned during your studies that surprised you most?
The concept of intersectionality was never taught to me until my time at the Education School, specifically in my time in the Youth and Social Innovation program. This relatively obvious concept has now influenced every interaction I have with students, my peers, my family, and my professors. It is wonderful to be made aware of theories that affect so much of daily life.
If you can, name one person who has made a special impact during your studies and how?
Judy Paulick and Melissa Levy. Judy is the most involved professor I have ever had in the Education School, from constantly putting the B/MTs first to personal check-ins and celebrations, I would feel comfortable going to Judy for anything and everything. She is extremely empathetic, diligent, communicative, and just lovely. Melissa has been my faculty advisor in YSI. I worked very closely with her in my time in YSI Exec. She is also very dedicated to student success, constantly sending YSI students job opportunities and information regarding extracurriculars, lecture series, internships, and more.
What will you be doing next?
I have decided to continue my love of teaching in the classroom by remaining in Charlottesville. I will be a second-grade teacher at Venable Elementary School next year. I could not be more excited!