Monday, February 17, 2014

Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Titko

Rachel Titko, Integrated Language Arts Major
When Rachel Titko was in high school, she decided to become a teacher. “My junior English teacher inspired me.” Upon entering AU in 2007, she declared her major in the English Department’s Integrated Language Arts program.

Four year later, after being on the Dean’s list every semester, she graduated. Immediately, she found a job doing what she loves best: teaching English. Rachel is now a twelfth grade English and speech teacher at Clear Fork High School (Bellville, Ohio).

Teaching British literature is one of Rachel’s favorite parts of her job, especially introducing students to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; reading these spirited tales, however, is only the beginning of her Chaucer studies. Students then write and then perform their own tales. Each student dresses up in costume—one recent student was a fully-regaled pirate, complete with eye-patch—and performs the character. Students watch the performances and choose winners.

Rachel’s dynamic teaching is no accident. It was inspired by a number of dedicated AU English faculty members. Dr. Deborah Fleming’s guidance on Romantic poetry helped shape the way she teaches Blake, Shelley, Coleridge, and other Romantic poets in her classes today. Dr. Jayne Waterman taught her how to lead an interactive classroom. Just as she saw modeled in her classes with Dr. Waterman, Rachel asks students lots of questions and seeks to have a student-centered, discussion-based class sessions.

Perhaps the most informative part of Rachel’s education came from studies both in Ashland and abroad, learning under the tutelage of Dr. Hilary Donatini. In-class, Rachel learned about Shakespeare and other great British writers, and on a University trip to London, England, with Dr. Donatini, she saw the culture and history from a whole new dimension. Rachel’s trip to England empowered her then to help make literature now “come alive” for her students. She feels her first-hand experiences lets her students—through Rachel’s eyes—be able “to see where the literature took place.”

Besides teaching literature, Rachel also teaches speech, a requirement for graduation from Clear Fork High School. Some semesters she has as many as three speech classes. She also advises the speech team, which has placed first in their yearly competition the last two years. In fact, in 2013 the Ohio House of Representatives officially recognized her champion speech team.

While Rachel attended AU, she was the vice president of Sigma Tau Delta (English honorary) and of Kappa Delta Pi (Education honorary). She attended The Well worship services on Thursday nights, and she graduated in four years. Right out of college she interviewed with and was hired by Clear Fork High School.

Rachel recommends that students wishing to become future English teachers should pay close attention to writing. In college, future teachers should “concentrate on their writing and be able to edit and help others with their writing.” She also reminds future English teachers that not everyone loves English, so you have to have a sense of humor. Based on Rachel’s successes at Clear Fork, it’s clear she knows when to be serious and when to have fun!