Investment & Outcomes

Palm Beach Atlantic University graduate Kimberly Hammaker

Kimberly Hammaker '15

Elementary Education

Describe your current job role:

I am a teacher at The Conservatory School @ North Palm Beach, a public K-8 school about 20 minutes north of PBA. I teach middle school English and history in the morning and a variety of project-based learning courses in the afternoon.

What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current job role?

My first year teaching, I taught 2nd grade. My second year, I moved to 6th grade and took my certification exams so that I could teach other middle grades. Since my first year, I have also traveled to California, New Hampshire and Washington D.C. to learn at different teaching workshops. When I’m not traveling, I’m reading, gathering resources from my Professional Learning Network on Twitter, or taking classes online through Harvard or the School District. My career keeps me busy, but in a way so wonderful I never could have dreamed I would be where I am today.

What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?

When I was in school, it was hard to know what was actually going to be helpful when I became a professional. Looking back, I can see how useful my time at PBA was in developing my content knowledge, my professional character and my work ethic. I am the teacher I am now because of my time at PBA.

"Not a semester went by when I wasn't working with real students in a real classroom..."

How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?

I am eternally grateful for the time I spent in classrooms across the county. I met kids with a variety of dreams and struggles, worked alongside teachers with a wide range of skills and styles and got to practice, practice, practice. I advocate for learning by doing, and that was exactly what I was able to do starting with my very first semester as an education student at PBA. Not a semester went by when I wasn’t working with real students in a real classroom to practice the skills I would need to do it on my own. The other hugely formative experience was my time in the Honors Program. Those classes changed the way I think, read and discuss; I wouldn’t be who I am today without those experiences.

What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?

I would give someone getting ready to enter the work world this advice: find your place. I knew I found my place because it was safe enough for me to learn and make mistakes, but challenging enough for me to grow and be better every day. I felt like the things asked of me were worthwhile, and I had the support I needed to make those things happen. At my school, I know I will be taken care of no matter what happens. I know my colleagues expect the best, but will also help me learn how to be better. My prayer for students starting out in their first full-time job would be that they find their place just as I’ve found mine.

Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? If so, what impact has that had on you?

I have had several teachers guide me since I started teaching. I think it's important to always have a mentor you can trust. I know that I can rely on their advice when I’m not sure what to do, confide in them when I’m struggling and celebrate our successes together. Each person I’ve worked with has their own strengths and gifts to offer, and they have graciously helped me navigated the beginning of my career. I am so thankful for their loving guidance and support.

Spotlight posted in October 2017. For current updates from Kimberly, visit her Twitter page.

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