Alexia Vance grew up locally in Goleta before matriculating to the University of San Diego, where she received her BA in political science with accompanying minors in history and changemaking. As a changemaker, Vance believes that society has an obligation to prioritize the education of all students equally, and with dignity. Her enthusiasm for working with children stems from a variety of experiences, including eight years of working at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, which played a role in her decision to pursue a Master’s in Education through UCSB's Teacher Education Program.
GGSE: What drew you to the GGSE and what are you specifically looking forward to during your time here?
Vance: I was drawn to GGSE for its reputation and accelerated learning calendar. The program’s expedited timeline allows me to be present in the classroom for hands-on learning alongside an experienced mentor. I believe there is a substantial benefit to contemporaneous learning through social interaction with the students in real time. I grew up in Goleta/Santa Barbara and truly appreciate this community. I am excited to share memorable “first” moments with the students, such as finding a new favorite book, being proud of an accomplishment, enjoying a field trip or other exploratory activity, seeing friendships develop, and building a classroom community with inquisitive and energetic learners. I am hoping that my presence in the classroom will have a positive impact, and that I will learn from an inspirational mentor.
GGSE: Why do you want to become a teacher, and what credential are you working toward?
Vance: I am working towards my Multiple Subject credential (elementary school). By obtaining a degree in education, my goal is to continue to provide support to children who need it. It is my belief that to encourage change is to identify problems that need to be solved, come up with solutions, then act on those ideas. I believe teachers are in the position to be changemakers by supporting and inspiring their students. My personal history has demonstrated that it is the intuitive and enthusiastic teachers that make learning enjoyable. Patience, reassurance, and confidence from memorable teachers and professors have guided me through my own academic journey. As such, I intend to be a positive mentor for my own students in the future, showing the same enthusiasm for teaching that was shown to me. I believe all students are capable of succeeding when given the opportunity, no matter their particular challenges. It is my goal to be an encouraging influence, and give back to my community through teaching. I feel that my compassion, empathy, and attention to detail will help me reach that goal. I am optimistic that the GGSE TEP program will give me the skills to rapidly recognize what impact my role will have on each child, and how I can improve my skills in order to ensure no child is overlooked.
GGSE: What was your undergraduate experience like, and who/what inspired you to pursue higher education?
Vance: While in the process of fulfilling my liberal arts requirements with the University of San Diego, I was particularly drawn to three areas of study: political science, history, and changemaking. I believe the study of governing, leadership, and how public policies impact people’s everyday lives will be further supplemented by obtaining a degree in education. Education techniques and strategies can impact both the proficiency and deficiencies in the learning, which in turn impacts our community as a whole. I am determined in wanting every student to be educated equitably, in order to ensure a productive and creative generation of students. I know I will stumble during my student-teaching experience, but I do not want my mistakes to negatively affect any child. My goal is to have the students return home at the end of the day with confidence in their performance, and a desire to return to school the next day. I was further encouraged to pursue teaching as a result of my past experiences in working with children.
At 14-years-old, I was selected by the education department at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center to be a participant in the “Quasars to Sea Stars” internship program. This work study program lasted throughout high school. During my time at the museum, I advanced my skill for working with inquisitive scientific minds. Working at an interactive museum in a natural setting gave me opportunities beyond my initial expectations. I have gained confidence in communicating with children and their parents. I learned to be flexible, and used my organizational skills to prepare and adapt to each new curriculum. Because working with young children also means working alongside parents, I learned to create open lines of communication and understanding in my relationships with families. My experiences as an instructor have steered me towards a career in teaching. I am motivated to learn new techniques for classroom management and to better understand the complexities of a student’s needs.
GGSE: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are you interested in outside of teaching?
Vance: Outside of work and school, I have many passions in my free time. I enjoy hiking, camping, running, working out, and spending time with my family, friends, and pets. The Santa Barbara area has beautiful trails and incredible weather, allowing me to spend my free time outdoors. I have two pets, a dog and a rabbit. My rabbit, Fig, stayed with me in San Diego. She lived both in my dorm, and in my apartments off campus. She has been a great comfort during my most stressful moments. I often felt her lying at my feet while taking online courses and/or test during the school shutdown. Pets are a wonderful source of comfort for me.
In addition to teaching, I hope to use some of my athletic skills to coach. I played soccer, lacrosse, tennis, and rode horses. I would enjoy sharing my love of sports with others. I also hope to have free time to travel. I recall fondly when my sixth-grade teacher shared her mountain climbing adventure with us as she was preparing to tackle Mt. Kilimanjaro. I think having a balanced work/home life, can have an inspiring effect on children’s view of the world beyond the classroom.