From students to teachers: GC education alums teach locally


More than half of last year’s Goshen College Education Department graduates decided to stick around and set up their first classrooms right here in Northern Indiana.

Suzanne Ehst, associate professor of education and director of secondary education, believes that Goshen College education graduates are uniquely suited to teach in the region. “Every teaching context is different, and so we try to align our program specifically to what schools in this area are doing,” she said. “Teachers get more experience in those systems, with those student populations.”

However, it’s not just familiarity that keeps new teachers in Northern Indiana.

“Goshen is also an increasingly attractive place for 20-somethings to live,” she said. “I think some of them stick around because of the community they’ve experienced in the broader Goshen area.”

Here are a few of our recent alums who have stayed to make a difference in the community:

Kayla_RiportellaKayla Riportella ’16

Kayla is from Des Plaines, Illinois, and will teach 10th grade English at Wawasee High School in Syracuse, Indiana, this fall. She is also the head girls volleyball coach.

Why did you decide to stay in Northern Indiana to teach?

When it came time to start applying for jobs, I did look for teaching jobs both here and back home and found that there were more positions open out this way. Along with that, I found myself way more connected to the schools out this way than I was at home, and I have Goshen College and their education field placements to thank for that. The exposure and experience the college gave me leading up to graduation in the education department is irreplaceable.

What is special about your school?

One of the things I appreciate about Wawasee High School most is how passionate and dedicated the faculty are to each other, the students they teach and the community they work in. I did my student teaching semester at this school this past fall, and the faculty and staff went out of their way to make me feel not only welcome, but a regular part of the community. That feeling has only increased since I received a job in the English department here and became part of their coaching staff.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be…

A librarian or a chef.

Alejandro_Rodriguez2Alejandro Rodriguez ’16

Alejandro was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and has spent the last 20 years in Elkhart County. He teaches Spanish to all kindergarten through fifth grade students at West Goshen Elementary.

Why did you decide to stay in Northern Indiana to teach?

Growing up in Northern Indiana, I experienced the education system here and quickly realized how important it is for the Hispanic community to have strong support from within the schools, especially during the early years. Also, being a Hispanic male teacher, I feel that I can contribute to providing a positive male figure for a lot of students who are lacking that at home.

What is special about your school or something exciting you’re working on in your classroom?

Our school is in the process of becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, which is important because it sets higher standards in education. We have also added Spanish as a language that is available for all the students to learn. I’m excited to teach Spanish because I believe it will help us connect with our community.

If I weren’t a teacher I would be…

A cross country coach.

Nina Fox ’15Nina_Fox

Nina is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and currently teaches 9th-12th grade Spanish at Bethany Christian High School in Goshen.

Why did you decide to stay in Northern Indiana to teach?

I loved the Goshen area and community, and I’m inspired by the way area teachers — amid very tangible challenges — are so committed to creative and compassionate instruction, and still demonstrate such passion for the work they do. How could I not want to be a part of that?

What is special about your school?

I love that Bethany provides a more intimate environment where students who can’t thrive in such a large environment are able to receive an education that will allow them to grow, learn and flourish. I love that I am less limited by a prescribed curriculum based on government standards because of our unique setting, and that my own creativity is my best instructional compass.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be…

An architect.

Annika_MillerAnnika Miller ’14

Annika grew up in Scottdale, Pennsylvania, and currently teaches 6th grade math at Goshen Middle School.

Why did you decide to stay in Northern Indiana to teach?

I initially left Northern Indiana to teach English in Barcelona, Spain. After that, I was looking for jobs in Goshen and Harrisonburg, Virginia. I was excited when I got a job in Goshen Community Schools, though, because they hold their teachers to high standards. Goshen schools not only affirm the good things I’m doing in the classroom, but they also push me to challenge myself and think metacognitively about my teaching, how my students are thinking and what I can do to facilitate deeper, more authentic learning.

What is something exciting you’re working on in your classroom?

One thing that I’m really excited about is the New Tech learning style that’s being introduced to part of the school this year. New Tech recognizes that we’re preparing students for a future in a world that will be very different than what it is now, so we work to help students grow into creative, thoughtful leaders and problem-solvers. Outside of academics, I also love New Tech’s emphasis on community. It’s set up for students to take ownership of their learning and learning environment. I’m really excited to kick this off this year and see where it takes us.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be…

The owner of a used bookstore or have an environmental job. If we’re really dreaming, I’d be a photographer for National Geographic or work for the Ministry of Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures (like Hermione Granger or Newt Scamander).

Seth Krabill ’16


Seth is from Goshen, Indiana, and will teach art for kindergarten through 5th grade at Prairie View Elementary School in Goshen.

Why did you decide to stay in Northern Indiana to teach?

I have lots of friends and family here, and Goshen has become more and more exciting recently — First Fridays has been including lots of live music from good bands and the arts community is really taking it up a step. The pottery community around Michiana is great as well.

What is special about your school?

I’m really excited to teach at Prairie View. The staff are great and the school has the functional skills (special needs) students for the area. That’ll be a fun and exciting challenge for my first year.

If I wasn’t a teacher, I would be…

A potter.

DIG2009050401-0385Daisy Gaspar ’12

Daisy was born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Mexico. She teaches kindergarten at Chandler Elementary School in Goshen.

Why did you decide to stay in Northern Indiana to teach?

I decided to stay in Goshen because Goshen grew on me. This small town started to grow and show lots of great things to look forward to.

What’s special about your school?

I was meant to be at Chandler. Chandler has a family in the community that is very involved. Right now we are working on a special event with the mayor for our Kindergarten Hispanic Heritage Celebration!

If I wasn’t a teacher, I would be…

A professional personal house organizer.