Sarah Voorhees ’15 ~ Educator in the Making
St. Louis native Sarah Voorhees has always loved working with kids. Since the 5th grade, the Spring Hill College senior has cared for children through hospital volunteer work, fundraising, and as a babysitter.
Voorhees, who at first considered studying occupational therapy in college, didn’t find her true calling until she enrolled at SHC.
“Once I heard about Spring Hill’s education program and experienced a class or two, I instantly knew that this was where I belonged,” says Voorhees. “It’s exactly the kind of involvement with children that I want. To be able to say that I am responsible for a student’s education is an amazing feeling. To also see the progress and success of students is what I want to live for.”
Voorhees, now an early childhood education major, has a particular interest in studying administration and special education. The courses she considers most impactful to her own learning at SHC include Sign Language, Art for Children, and Exceptionalities, which centers on children with disabilities or special needs, including Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, and behavioral issues.
“I also really enjoyed Foundations of Reading Instruction,” says Voorhees. “Dr. (April) Sanders really opened the education world to me. She’s very cutting-edge and encourages students to use new learning tools to their full advantage. Dr. Sanders is always exploring ways to make classrooms technology-friendly.”
Dr. Sanders adds that Voorhees’ positive energy about education has helped her succeed at Spring Hill and will serve her well as a future teacher.
“She's driven and works hard,” says Dr. Sanders, an assistant professor of teacher education at SHC. “She knows the impact she can make as a teacher and takes that responsibility very seriously. I wouldn't hesitate to put my own child in her future classroom and that's the highest compliment I can give a teacher.”
For the past two summers, Voorhees has interned as a teacher’s assistant with the Parkway School district in St. Louis, Mo. Her responsibilities included helping teachers with classroom work and preparing students for lessons.
“This past year I was actually able to assist the teacher with ideas, which she used for the lessons during the week,” says Voorhees. “It was very exciting that a teacher was able to use my suggestions in order to make her classroom not only exciting, but educational as well.”
After attending graduate school and teaching for a few years, Voorhees hopes have the opportunity to teach in a developing country. Part of that inspiration comes from a recent Spring Hill College immersion trip to Belize City, in which she and a group of SHC students and staff built a home for a family of four.
“We were able to build a house in two and a half days, which was a record,” says Voorhees. “This was a huge accomplishment for our group, and was a project that made such an impact on this family in Belize. At the end of the trip, I came out with the closest of friends, a real sense of family, and a deeper understanding of the Spring Hill Mission of being men and women in service to others.”
The sense of family and community was also evident to Voorhees from the moment she stepped on the Spring Hill College campus. “Anywhere I would turn I would see a familiar face and it was always friendly,” says Voorhees. “We, as badgers, know how to rally together. From friend to friend, professor to student, or staff to student, there is a close bond that everyone shares.”
Dr. Lois Silvernail, professor of Teacher Education at SHC and Voorhees’ advisor, praises her enthusiasm and dedication as a Spring Hill College student. “Sarah is soaking up everything she can on campus and during her field classes,” says Dr. Silvernail. “I’m confident that Sarah will be ‘that’ teacher her children will always remember.”
“I know that I was meant to be not only a role model, but also a friend to students,” says Voorhees. “I can’t wait to be able to put my own personal touch on lessons so that I can make it easier and more interesting for students to understand and learn. I want to be able to say that I helped change students’ lives.”
Outside the classroom, Voorhees is involved in the Educational Film Club, Habitat for Humanity, Sigma Kappa sorority, as well as SHC intramural volleyball and soccer. After graduation from Spring Hill College in May of 2015, she hopes to attended graduate school in St. Louis and secure a position as a third grade teacher in the Parkway School District.