Grad’s Dream of Teaching Comes True


New graduate Michelle Hanvey, and proud mom, Susan Arvin Hanvey.

New graduate Michelle Hanvey, and proud mom, Susan Arvin Hanvey.

Since her student days at Western Hills High School, Michelle Hanvey has known she wanted to be a teacher.

After her graduation Saturday from Northern Kentucky University she’s now on her way to that goal through the Teach for America program.

With her bachelor’s degree in English in hand, Hanvey has been selected to participate in the highly competitive program and will be headed to Pine Bluff, Ark. for her teaching assignment. The Teach for America program places high achieving graduates into low-income communities in an effort to eliminate educational inequalities.

“I’m in a mixture of denial it’s actually happening, and really excited to be done (with college),” said Hanvey.

For those who know Michelle, 22, it’s not surprising success has come her way so early.

“Michelle was singing the alphabet song back to me before she was even 1-year old,” said Susan Arvin Hanvey, Michelle’s mom. “Before pre-school she was bitterly angry that she couldn’t read, so I sat her down and taught her using phonics in about an hour – she was at a high school level in elementary school.”

At NKU Hanvey has achieved recognition in numerous campus activities and got her start in the career she plans to pursue.

“I joined Phi Sigma Sigma my sophomore year because I wasn’t as involved on campus as I wanted,” said Hanvey. “This was a gateway for me – it provided motivation and support, and a pathway to gain leadership and achieve change.”

Michelle Grad 2She represented her sorority on one major campus committee, shepherded potential new sorority members through recruiting, and found Greek life a good preparation for her future.

The sorority also led her into community service, including volunteer work with Big Brothers Big Sisters in her sophomore year. That allowed her to begin mentoring an 11-year old fifth grader in an area elementary school.

The vulnerability Hanvey noticed in middle school children left a lasting impression upon her. The experience made her believe that if she set a good example it might leave an impression for such children when they grew older and had hard decisions of their own to make.

After applying for selection to Teach for America last August, Hanvey decided she would be a more competitive applicant if she had more personal experience with children. This led to another mentoring and tutoring position through the Boys and Girls Club of America at Tichenor Middle School in Erlanger, Ky.

“Michelle has developed relationships that have forged bonds with the kids that is something that can’t be taught in a classroom,” said Jodi Disselkamp, Michelle’s supervisor at Boys and Girls Club.

Hanvey will begin her two-year Teach for America stint in June when she goes to Delta State University in Mississippi for an orientation session. She starts her actual classroom teaching experience in Pine Bluff on July 19. The school will pay Hanvey’s salary, plus she will receive a $10,000 education grant upon completion of her TFA obligation.

“I loved the selection,” said Hanvey. “I immediately looked up the school, and it uses a rigorous academics model, but also offers a focus on art infusion.”

Michelle Grad 3It’s precisely the type of location desperately in need of enlightened scholars to teach its next generation of children. Some might look upon this journey with trepidation, but Hanvey feels prepared and is excited by the challenge.

Michelle is unsure where her future may lie, except her conviction that it will be somewhere in education. Long range, she may pursue advanced degrees and eventually teach at the college level.

But for now she’s looking forward to beginning her life in the real world of teaching.

“I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years, hopefully doing something extraordinary,” said Hanvey. “I think my dad said it best, ‘I don’t know how to fail,’ and that’s true.”

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See also: For Michelle Hanvey A Career Awaits After Graduation | Urban Llama | 05-10-13

Published by:  The State Journal | Frankfort, KY | 05-13-13 

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