Her mother instilled in her a love of reading, but it was Xavier’s graduate-level Reading Practicum course that helped Mici Eubanks land a teaching job at Wyandot Early Childhood School in the Lakota School District.
“It’s a very competitive field, and the more you have on your resumé, especially with reading, the more you get the principal’s attention,” she says.
The fact that Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee requires all third graders attain a certain level of reading competence doesn’t hurt either, and actually puts budding teachers with a Reading Endorsement over the top compared to their peers.
“Xavier will always hold a place in my heart because they introduced me to the world of education and teaching reading,” she says. “I knew that I loved to read, but I didn’t know how much I loved to teach reading until I joined Xavier’s graduate program.”
Eubanks graduated from Xavier in 2013 with a degree in Early Childhood Education and passed Ohio’s required teacher licensure exams. Because finding a teaching job was so competitive, she stayed on for a graduate degree and took three reading classes over the summer.
One of those classes was the Summer Reading Practicum, part of the graduate Reading Specialist Program, and that fall she was hired to teach first grade in the Lakota district. She postponed her degree and took the job.
“The thing I loved most about the reading program is it’s very applicable and very easy to take what you learn and directly apply it to your students,” she says.
It also helps that the practicum course for graduate students is paired with a Summer Reading Camp for elementary age children on campus. The children practice their reading, and the grad students practice teaching reading. The summer program has been in place at Xavier for over 30 years.
“The Reading Practicum that first summer was really important to have real live students you can work with and learn from,” she says. “You’re writing lessons for reading comprehension and phonics, and your students come and you can apply the lessons and learn right then what works or doesn't.”
Eubanks says she was well-prepared for her job. She started with first-graders, then was assigned to teach two kindergarten classes—one in the morning, one in the afternoon—and now is teaching one kindergarten class all day.
Teaching such large classes was an adjustment, but she never felt overwhelmed.
“Xavier very much prepared me for this,” Eubanks says. “Everyone kept telling me I had a very difficult class, but I didn’t think so because I had so many ideas I got from Xavier that it was what I was expecting.”
In 2015 Eubanks came back for the rest of her classes and graduated in 2016 with her Master of Education in Reading and state Reading Endorsement. She said both her undergraduate and graduate programs prepared her for the reality of teaching and managing a classroom.
“Every year I was in some kind of field placement where I was working with children and implementing what they were teaching me so I could see theories in play,” she says.
She uses her reading knowledge every day in her own classroom. She also teaches reading instruction to her colleagues in reading workshops and professional development programs.
Her love of reading and teaching was stoked by her mother, who home-schooled her for three years. They took turns reading chapters to each other, especially at bedtime. She ticks off her favorite children’s books by authors like Roald Dahl—The Big Friendly Giant, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—and J.K. Rowling who wrote Harry Potter.
Now she’s doing the same for her pupils. “Who doesn’t love to be read to?” she says. “It’s an incredibly charming experience.”