Over the weekend students and faculty from our department took part in the fifth annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium (MUHS), joining peers from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, Bethany Lutheran College, Martin Luther College, and our hosts, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Saint Mary’s was founded as a men’s academy in 1912 by the bishop of Winona
In 1933 the diocese sold Saint Mary’s to the Brothers of the Christian Schools, a teaching order founded in 1680 by St. John Baptist de La Salle
The symposium was held in the year-old Science and Learning Center
Six Bethel History majors presented their research at Saturday’s three concurrent sessions:
Kerry Bloomfield, “Evangelical Marriage Manuals from 1970-1979”
Andrew Fort, “The Quintessential American Cowboy”
Hannah Harville, “The Christian Palestinian Experience with, Involvement in, and Response to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict since the First Intifada”
Nelson Menjivar, “Catalonia and Spain: Origins of a Nationalist Movement”
Sarah Sauer, “The Moderating Role of Virtus Romana in Augustine’s Desacralization of Nature”
Matt Velasco, “The Development and Impact of the Confessing Church”
(Most of these students are currently taking HIS499 Senior Seminar and will be giving more final versions of their research papers on Monday, May 21, 6pm, CLC 109. All are invited!)
Faculty members Amy Poppinga, AnneMarie Kooistra, and Chris Gehrz moderated panels during the symposium, and Prof. Poppinga spoke on the closing faculty roundtable (“Students’ Religious Literacy in a Pluralistic Society”).
Prof. Poppinga speaking at the closing session, where she was joined by Saint Mary’s professor Erich Lippman
From left to right: front row – Matt Velasco ’18, Andrew Fort ’18, Prof. AnneMarie Kooistra, Prof. Amy Poppinga; back row – Nelson Menjivar ’19, Hannah Harville ’19, Kerry Bloomfield ’19, Prof. Chris Gehrz
(If you’d like to see some highlights from various sessions, Prof. Gehrz live-tweeted the symposium at the hashtag #MUHS2018.)
Thanks to Dr. Tycho de Boer and the rest of our hosts from Saint Mary’s for putting on a fine symposium. We’re looking forward to having MUHS return to Bethel next year.
Nelson Menjivar ’19, a Bethel History major and Philosophy minor, was named to the 2018-2019 cohort of the INCE Museum Fellows at the Minnesota Historical Society. The program includes a fall course at MNHS, a site visit to museums in Chicago, a paid internship next spring, and ongoing mentoring after the program concludes.
In addition to letting students explore museum-related careers, the INCE program
is designed to engage students in studying the challenges related to the underrepresentation of communities of color and American Indian Nations in historical organizations and public history graduate programs. Communities need to “see themselves” in the work of cultural organizations in order to identify with their missions.
A native of West Saint Paul, MN, Nelson currently serves as a teaching assistant with Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture program. He says that he was particularly excited about the INCE program because it offered “the chance to work with museums and professionals who not only study history, but also find a way to present it to the public… I’m excited to get the internship started and use the valuable tools I’ve picked up at the Bethel History department!”
As I wrote yesterday at my personal blog, perhaps the rarest thing in American higher education is a truly distinctive academic program… and Bethel offers one in the form of our new Digital Humanities major.
So whether you’re a prospective student, a high school teacher or guidance counselor, an employer, or simply an interested alum, get in touch with Prof. Goldberg if you’d like to learn more about DH at Bethel.
Join Prof. Magnuson and the other Friends of The History Center for their spring event on Saturday, April 21 at Calvary Church in Roseville. After coffee and refreshments at 9:30am, the program will begin at 10am.
This year’s featured speaker is Ron Dischinger, retired CEO/president of the Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire, Connecticut (and former Bethel History student — find him on our alumni map). In addition to his nearly four decades at Elim Park, Ron served at the Klingberg Children’s Home. Both institutions are rooted in the historic social ministry of the Baptist General Conference (now known as Converge). (Learn more about Klingberg in the May 2008 issue of The Baptist Pietist Clarion.) In his talk, Ron will trace some of that history, plus the program will feature some creative social ministries being carried out by Converge churches in the Twin Cities. And guests are invited to stop by the oral history table to share their own story of social ministry.
The program is free, but attendees are encouraged to register online and bring a food item to donate.
Join us next Thursday (April 12, 11:15am) in the Bethel University Library as Prof. Gehrz gives a Not Ready for Prime Time talk previewing his new project: a “spiritual, but not religious” biography of the famous aviator Charles A. Lindbergh.
If you can’t make it, you can find video of that talk — and our professors’ and students’ many other appearances in the Library — at our YouTube channel. Or read some of Prof. Gehrz’s recent Lindbergh posts at The Pietist Schoolman and The Anxious Bench:
Today we wrap up our three-part alumni conversation on teaching in middle and high school. Thanks once more to our outstanding panelists: Micayla Moore ’16, Kelly Van Wyk ’15, Daniel Rimmereid ’15, Zach Haskins ’14, and Joe Held ’13.
Have you started work on a master’s degree? How did you pick the school and program? At what point in the career would you recommend that teachers go back to school?
JH: Teaching provides financial compensation with attaining a master’s degree. I chose to begin my M.A. rather quickly after starting teaching so as to move along the “Steps and Lanes” as soon as possible. I got my Master’s in Educational Leadership from Concordia University Saint Paul (CSP). I had considered Bethel for a master’s degree, but there is benefit to getting an education from a different school. Multiple perspectives and schools can enrich personal growth.
MM: I just started my master’s in instructional design from Western Governor’s University (WGU). It’s an all online, flexible way to get your master’s. WGU is known for its progressive model of competency-based instead of credit-based education, which means if you can show you’re competent in a topic within the program, you can essentially demonstrate that and move on in the coursework so you don’t waste time and money on
information/skills that you’ve already mastered.
ZH: I started my master’s in educational leadership at St. Mary’s University in the Fall of 2017. I picked the program because it was one that many of my co-workers have gone through, and it is available entirely online. This makes it much easier as a teacher and a coach to be able to get that education.
JH: I chose Concordia’s program for a few reasons. The first being cost. CSP was markedly more affordable than some of the neighboring universities with the same program. The second being the CSP has a reputation for offering pretty rigorous master’s programs. I have many colleagues who received master’s degrees from other universities, and they talk about how they barely had any work. You get out of learning what you put into it. I absolutely love research and paper writing — I know, I’m strange that way — so I wanted a difficult program that would challenge me.
ZH: I would recommend starting your master’s as soon as you feel settled where you are working. I wanted to be at least in my second year at a building before starting. This allows you to adjust to a new school and then tackle your master’s later.
MM: I don’t know that I’d recommend doing it your first year of full-time teaching like I am. (It’s a little stressful!) But I would say do it when you’re younger if you can. I’m only a month or so into it, and it’s already provided immediate benefits to my teaching.
JH: Having completed my M.A. in Educational Leadership, I am now in the middle of getting my Educational Specialist Degree (again, at CSP). This is essentially a step in between a master’s and a doctoral degree (Ed.D). Once I complete this program, I will receive my administration license from the state of Minnesota. This will allow me to pursue becoming a principal down the road if and when I choose.
Any closing advice for current or prospective students thinking about teaching social studies?
MM: Get involved with youth now in whatever capacity possible. Whether that’s tutoring, volunteering with youth groups, after school programs, etc. Spend time with kids. Get to know them. Spend time in different communities with people of different cultures. You can be so solid in content knowledge and your passion for social studies, but if you can’t connect to your students it means nothing.
ZH: Pursue what you love. Everyone knows that teachers do not make the most money, but you can do something that you really enjoy. Take courses that you find interesting and that will challenge you to make yourself a better teacher.
DR: I would say commit to a school for at least three years. That may seem like a long time but I think that after that you will really know if you want to teach and you will give yourself time to grow as a teacher. The third year really is so much better than the previous two. And get a mentor ASAP. Having someone observe me and give feedback bimonthly changed my teaching so much. It truly made me a much better teacher.
KVW: Think about teaching middle school if you can see yourself working with kids who are beginning to develop self-reliance but also are young and highly impressionable. It takes a lot of patience, clear communication, creativity, problem-solving, flexibility, stability, and humor. Most of all, you must be comfortable with teaching students in all areas: academically, socially, emotionally, etc. Do not go into middle school education if you are only comfortable with the academic side of teaching, or you will be miserable and your students will be miserable.
DR: I always want more Bethel grads to try teaching in Minneapolis or St. Paul. We could always use more Christians, and those schools are often short on teachers. There are some awesome staff who have really made their life mission teaching here, and I love my colleagues who have given their life to these kids. They are an inspiration to me daily.
JH: The most challenging aspect of being a teacher is planning for the unexpected. Let me tell you a quick story. A few weeks ago, I went to bed at night expecting to teach the next day about the historical importance of the Berlin Wall. I had a killer lesson plan ready and was feeling good about the next day. When I got to school, the following happened:
Period 1) Found out one of my student’s siblings committed suicide; that student had a breakdown/seizure in class.
Period 2) Unexpected school lock down because a student made a threat to the school on social media.
Period 3) One of my students had the stomach flu and threw up in my garbage can during my lesson.
Period 4) Blessedly, nothing happened so I spent that hour trying to get the smell of vomit out of my room.
Period 5) Caught a student vaping in the back of my class and had to get security to come down because he would leave to go to the office.
Each of these things happened in the middle of my super awesome and killer lesson plan. In fact, none of my classes finished what I was hoping to get done. They were completely distracted and had very little interest in the Berlin Wall. Weird, right?
The perspective I would pass along is to remember three things: 1) You must have a sense of humor to be a teacher. Do not take yourself too seriously. 2) Plan to be flexible. Something unexpected will always happen. The sooner you can find peace with that, the less emotionally traumatic teaching will be for you. 3) Finally, remember why you love to teach. It is, and must be, always about the students. These students are with you everyday for a semester. What impact do you want to have? Remember that some things in life are more important than any lesson plan that you made. Build relationships and continue to cultivate those relationships throughout the year. If you show them that you care for them as individuals, I guarantee that they will begin to find excitement in that content that you are going to be teaching them.
MM: Teaching and learning social studies with young people is worth it. There is such a need for kind, compassionate educators in today’s schools. Students need to be known, loved, nurtured, and challenged, and that’s what you get to do as a teacher.
KVW: Just throwing this out there: you can major in history and find a job outside of social studies education. Don’t feel like education is your only option if you major in the humanities!
Today we’re happy to revive our occasional series featuring students who have spent a semester abroad. Christina Sibileva ’18 is a Social Studies Education 5-12 major and History minor; she was kind enough to answer some questions about her experience of the unique Semester at Seaprogram.
How’d you decide to major in Social Studies Ed? Was it something you knew you wanted to study when you started college, or did you choose it later on?
As a freshman at Bethel, I knew I wanted to pursue a major that allowed me to work with people. During my first two semesters, I believed the way I would work with people would be in the medical field. Through trial and error of the science courses at Bethel, I realized at the end of my first year that the medical field was not for me. In the summer before sophomore year I was flipping through the Bethel catalog for a new major and found myself intrigued by the courses offered in a Social Studies Education 5-12 major. As I began my first semester of the sophomore year with a completely different course load, I realized my skills and interests lined up quite nicely with the courses being offered in my major. I began feeling confident in my ability to grow within my field and step into a career path that allows me to be challenged by learning every day. The social sciences within my major correspond well with the way I perceive elements in life and allow abstract thoughts to mingle with concrete thoughts in terms of history, geography, and the other various topics in Social Studies.
Likewise, what sparked your interest in spending a semester off-campus? Was it hard to fit that kind of program into the Social Studies Ed major?
There were days where I looked outside at the snowy campus of Bethel and found myself regretting choosing a college with a limited climate range. One day I was informed of a program called Semester at Sea, and later on, I saw some peers were currently on the study abroad program, which allowed me to commit to seeing how I could spend a semester off-campus. Due to discovering about the program well into my second semester of sophomore year there were hurdles to jump through in order to fit the program into my schedule. Fortunately, my advisor was willing and able to work with me to ensure the courses I needed would work with my major on the study abroad program and also to ensure I took required courses at Bethel in different semesters than my semester off-campus. The biggest hurdle to face is running into courses that are taught in certain semesters either in the fall or spring, but working with my advisor and registrar allowed me to create a unique schedule to fit all the pieces in and still be on track for graduation.
You picked a particularly distinctive experience. Can you just tell us a bit about Semester at Sea, how you heard about it, and why you went with that option?
Looking at the website alone for Semester at Sea gave me enough insight on wanting to pursue the program. The images on the website include a shipboard community where students live on a ship as their campus and take classes there as well. The locations the program can take you is another reason I became committed to pursuing the program right away. Scrolling through the list of destinations in Asian and African countries allowed me to realize this is a program that can provide me a unique learning experience. I can honestly say I was sold right away with the program because there was something that simply felt right about it, similar to my major choice.
[See also our earlier interview with Meloni Rudolph ’94, who worked for Semester at Sea as a student life staff member.]
What were the most formative aspects of that semester? Any particularly evocative memories of the places and people you visited?
The shipboard community stands out. There were 600 students from various parts of the world embarking on this journey together to study abroad and learn through a broad range of experiences. Within this community, there were unique conversations that occurred allowing each community member to share experiences from the study abroad program, or learn from one another through sharing each person’s story. The community allowed a space to process each experience, learn from one another, and feel refreshed to collect more experiences and memories in each new day that came.
Along the journey, the experiences that stood out the most include taking a seat in a foreign country on a bench and soaking in the new surroundings. With each day there was something new to stimulate your senses, whether that was a new language or culture, climate or season, as we were circumnavigating the globe. I especially remember trekking through Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam in various forms of transportation to have an opportunity to take a tour of the Mekong River Delta. Seeing how local communities live and rely on the river was eye-opening and breathtaking. I was able to catch a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals in that specific region and I find myself in awe of the transformative capacity of such an experience.
How did studying abroad broaden or deepen your understanding of history, or shape how you’re going to approach education?
Through this experience I found myself being able to interact with history in a new format that was unattainable at Bethel. Courses in my program were taught by faculty who have lived and experienced cross-cultural historical events or provided insight on how they learned about various elements of history.
Through visiting various countries and being able to explore classrooms in Asian and African countries, I was able to interact with students and teachers about their educational systems specific to their country. One moment from India that stands out was interacting with those students in the classroom about how much they love to learn. I was really intrigued by the passion for education within various classrooms I visited because these students shared similar passions with me. Despite language barriers and varying cultural values; our shared passion to seek and pursue knowledge through education became common ground. The students I met in these various Asian and African cultures showed me how much they wanted to learn from me and made me realize one important reason I want to be a teacher: how much I wanted to learn from them. I discovered my own passion for becoming a global citizen and bringing pieces of who I am, what I have learned, and what I desire to learn into the classroom to inspire my students to become global citizens. Semester at Sea inspired me to continue seeking these moments of being able to learn from students and families abroad simultaneously as I am able to teach students about the places I have been, the places I am going, and connect curriculum to these stories.
One of the student-athletes featured this year in Bethel’s 39 @ 3900 series of video interviews is senior History/Social Studies Ed major Andrew Fort, a forward on Bethel’s men’s basketball team and TA for Prof. Kooistra. Andrew and his teammates made the MIAC playoffs again this year, after winning the regular season (1st ever) and playoff championships last year.
A native of South Haven, MN, Andrew student-taught last fall at Mahtomedi High School. His goal is eventually to serve as a high school athletic director or college basketball coach.
Part two of our roundtable conversation on teaching with five recent Bethel Social Studies Ed/History grads. Thanks again to our panelists: Joe Held ’13 (Centennial High School in Lino Lakes); Zach Haskins ’14 (Shakopee High School); Kelly Van Wyk ’15 (MOC-Floyd Valley Schools in Alton, IA); Daniel Rimmereid ’15 (Franklin Middle School in North Minneapolis); and Micayla Moore ’16 (Minnetonka Middle School West in Excelsior).
What’s the most important thing about teaching that you learned at Bethel (whether from an Ed class or in the History department)? What have you had to learn on the job?
MM: First, from Amy Poppinga’s course History and the Human Environment I learned how to engage learners using a variety of instructional strategies. I always say I learned as much (or more) about how to teach just from being Poppinga’s student than I did in most of my education classes. Second, from AnneMarie Kooistra I learned how to support and challenge students. As her TA, I had the privilege of watching her build meaningful relationships with a wide open door policy. She has an amazing ability to make you feel valued and heard, no matter if you’re a business major just trying to pass American Civ. or a history nerd who wants to be her someday. She is so good at caring for her students and giving them what they need, whether that’s a challenge or accommodation.
DR: I have left deeply valuing my history professors’ and classes’ impact on my view of the world and, specific to my job, how I view and think about race. I work in a predominantly black school and the other portions are also students of color. History opened up my eyes to the history of race in America and how that impacts so much of life today. I cannot begin to teach if I first do not learn from my students and I think studying history has really helped me start there.
JH: The most important thing that I learned about teaching was to view students holistically. Many teachers take students’ actions (or even a poorly written assignment) as a personal attack. This type of understanding will burn you out quickly as an educator. Remember that in a class of 35+, you will have some students with no home, some who have been abused, some who are incredibly smart, and some who have special needs. Bethel taught me that I need to keep my students’ mental, physical, and emotional health in mind just as much as I do academic achievements.
ZH: The most important thing I learned was to be prepared to be a diverse educator. I mean this in the sense that you will never know what type of school you will work in and you need to make sure that you are effectively teaching students from all backgrounds and walks of life. I have worked in three districts that are very different from each other. The diversity of those schools can make a difference in how you teach. An educator must be prepared in how to effectively work with students from various backgrounds.
DR: Education classes did not prepare me for teaching in such a diverse setting. I did not have the classroom management tools; I was in culture shock and had to fight really hard in college to get diverse placements. Once I got here I asked lots of questions, especially to my colleagues of color. I asked many people to observe me, and I really did observe others. This helped to raise me expectations for my students. I think the most helpful thing I have learned after three years is that you cannot have high academic expectations without high behavior expectations for your students.
KVW: The thing I have had to learn on the job is that you will be bad when you start teaching. You will be an objectively terrible teacher. So collaborate with the pros: experience teachers who have been through the same things you are experiencing now. Listen before jumping in to speak. And take each day at a time with this goal in mind: what am I going to improve for tomorrow?
ZH: One thing that I have had to learn on the job is that, as a new teacher, you will always feel like you have more to do to be prepared. Being a new teacher is difficult and there never seems to be enough time. As long as you have the students interest at heart, you will be effective. Know that the profession will get easier in time!
How (and how quickly) did you get your current position? Was it difficult finding a full-time teaching job? (If you’re not teaching social studies, how/why did you switch?)
ZH: The job market is difficult for social studies. I applied to countless jobs the first three summers out of college. My first year out I got a long-term sub job, my second year out I was a part time teacher. Finally, by the third year I was able to get hired full-time at Shakopee High School. There are so many people that apply to every social studies teaching position listed that it gets very difficult to even get an interview.
JH: I student taught at Centennial High School during my senior year at Bethel. I treated this experience as 4-month “interview/audition.” Even though it didn’t appear that there would be any openings at CHS, I wanted to put in 110%. Following graduation, I taught for one year at Minnesota Virtual High School as an online teacher. Fortunately, I got a call from the SS Department Chair at Centennial saying that they would like me to apply for a job. I’ve never looked back.
ZH: The key is to make connections to schools and districts and stay in contact with them. Every interview I received was because I had made a connection with another person within the district. It was a challenging process, but you just have to keep with it and keep your head up. Talk to administrators of schools when you do your student teaching or observations, coach at schools, help out, and do anything to get yourself noticed. This can definitely help you in the job search.
KVW: I really had to work hard to find connections with the school districts to which I applied. The teaching market was flooded with applicants when I graduated, so I had to expand my search beyond the Twin Cities to find an opening. I got my job in June after I graduated, and I felt very lucky to have found a full-time position.
MM: Minnetonka recruited me right out of college and offered me a job in spring 2016. Instead, I said yes to a charter school in Minneapolis. That charter school ended up unexpectedly closing a week before school started in 2016-2017, so I was suddenly unemployed. But the Lord is so so faithful and knows exactly what He’s doing even when we are clueless. So I spent last year subbing all over the metro and then working in Costa Rica for three months at an orphanage. I decided to apply with Minnetonka again. I reached out to some people I had met the year before, had my interview, and accepted the job two days after I returned from Costa Rica in June. The second time around, it was the right fit.
KVW: The entire search took a lot more patience and persistence than I anticipated for sure, which was a really valuable lesson for me right out of college.
DR: Cast your nets wide. That may look like another state, abroad, or even a district you didn’t plan on teaching at. I would recommend really thinking about teaching abroad. Some countries have awesome programs that pay more than teaching in the US.
What’s the best part of your current job?
DR: I love seeing students grow and building relationships with them. I would also say I have learned so much about North Minneapolis, poverty, and the challenges that come with being a person of color in America.
KVW: The relationships that I have with my students and athletes are definitely the best part of my job. Research shows that one of the best indicators of student success is the presence of a caring, supportive adult in their lives. I love that I get to do that for my kids, and I wake up every day feeling like my efforts matter and make a difference in the lives of those I teach. I help kids feel heard, develop confidence and grit, and show them opportunities and ways of life that they are experiencing for the very first time. That sort of thing doesn’t get old.
MM: The best part of my job are undoubtedly my students. They are hilarious and teach me so much every single day. They’re patient and kind and I’m so proud of who they’re becoming.
JH: The best part of teaching senior classes (many of them being AP students) is when they stay in touch as they go off to college. I have many students go on to get business/economic degrees and will email/visit me to get help on their college assignments. It is incredibly rewarding when students want to keep you a part of their life as they move on. I take it as an honor to be a part of their learning process and their journey.
ZH: The best and most surprising aspects of my current job has been the ability to design new courses. I was asked to design a Criminal Justice course for Shakopee High School, and then teach that course this year. It has been a really cool process of building a course from the ground up and then watching it get implemented where you work.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?
ZH: The most challenging aspect of the job has been the first year at the new building. Whenever you are in your first year at a new building, you feel like you are swamped. Getting adjusted to new curriculum, a new school and new co-workers is difficult. As you get more experience in a building and with the curriculum, it gets easier and manageable. You can switch from survival mode to design and enjoy mode!
JH: A challenging aspect is learning to balance your life and your job. Teaching can be emotionally all-consuming. It took a few years for me to finally be able to not spend hours (unpaid, of course) every night and weekend preparing for the next lesson and unit. Eventually you learn to triage your work life. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to becoming efficient in your teaching career.
DR: I would say the hardest part of teaching where I teach is teaching students in poverty, high concentrations of underperforming students and underfunded districts and schools that service these students.
MM: The most challenging aspect in my job is the immersion context and writing quality curriculum for a developing program. Finding primary sources in Spanish to use for a 7th grade U.S. history course can be challenging!
KVW: On the other side of the coin, there are a lot of challenges in education. Being a social studies teacher, my subject tends to draw out a lot of the controversial issues in current affairs. As both a Christian and a professional educator, I am constantly seeking wisdom in how to broach these hard topics in a balanced manner: one that seeks truth and integrity yet compassionately considers the variety of perspectives involved.
DR: I will also be honest, the behavior will take a while to learn how to manage.
KVW: Not to mention that there are some days when no matter how hard you try, your students are just not that excited to receive an education. That’s why it’s so important to have a co-worker you can share your struggles with from time to time. And I can also attest to the power of having a chocolate stash somewhere in your desk for bad days.
Look who’s the latest professor featured in Bethel’s Meet the Faculty series of brief video interviews:
Please consider sharing this with people you know who might be considering Bethel: it’s a great way to get the word out about our exciting new major in the Digital Humanities.
And check out earlier installments of the series, which has featured humanities colleagues like Sara Shady (Philosophy/Gender Studies), Chris Moore (Political Science/International Relations), and Scott Winter (English/Journalism).