Ever since her fourth grade instructor at Hobart’s Liberty Elementary School referred to her as “Rainbow Maker” 11 years ago, Caylee Stahl has looked forward to becoming an elementary schoolteacher.
And if the opportunity to student-teach this spring at her former elementary school under the guidance of that former teacher, Joe Burger, did not seal the deal, “it has been the best experience I could imagine,” according to Stahl.
“Mr. Burger had a strong influence on me, and he inspired me greatly when I had him as a teacher,” the 22-year-old Hobart resident said. “I remember that at the end of my fourth grade year, he gave out what he called ‘Akidemy Awards’ to all the students. He gave me the Rainbow Maker Award, because he told me I was bright and made people smile.”
Stahl and classmates from Purdue University Calumet’s College of Education will be honored Friday (5/6—6 p.m.) during the first of three weekend Commencement Exercises on campus. The graduation programs will be the last for the Hammond university before it begins operating collaboratively next fall with Purdue University North Central of Westville as the recently unified Purdue University Northwest.
Eager to begin
By the time the first Purdue Northwest class session is held, Stahl hopes to have begun turning her desire to teach youngsters into her life’s work—and indeed she has prepared for it.
“Caylee's conscientious involvement, consistently outstanding work and commitment to education's mission are deeply appreciated,” Associate Professor of Education Thomas Mihail said. “Her passion for teaching will benefit children, families and colleagues.”
At Purdue Calumet, she has been a Dean’s List student and has satisfied, pending graduation, state of Indiana dual licensure requirements to teach elementary education and special education/mild intervention. Previously at Hobart High School, she took an experiential learning class in Early Childhood Education that enabled her to work with preschoolers three days a week.
“I really enjoyed it, and it kind of helped prepare me for coming to Purdue Calumet,” she said.
Mother & sister are alumnae
As for her decision to attend Purdue Calumet, it was pretty much a no-brainer.
“My mom and sister are (Purdue Calumet) graduates, and I wanted to stay close to home,” Caylee said. “Plus, I knew the teacher education program is strong.”
Purdue Calumet Education Advisor Katie Bowers has been impressed with Stahl’s drive and work ethic.
“Because our program is dual licensure, it requires 127 credit hours to graduate,” Bowers said. “This can be difficult for students to complete in four years, especially considering their final semester is student teaching. But Caylee not only has finished all program requirements in four years, she also has added and completed an elementary math minor, has maintained a high GPA (grade point average), has passed all six state tests required for her dual licensure, and she has participated in our mentorship program.”
Outside the classroom
Additionally on campus, Stahl has been active in the Peregrines in Pink community service outreach organization and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Like most Purdue Calumet students, she also has held her share of part-time jobs, and she has been busy applying for teaching positions across Northwest Indiana.
“I’ve always liked kids, and I’ve been told I connect with them well,” she said. “I’m excited to begin teaching.”