Special education graduate carries second-grade lessons, Georgia Southern studies to her first classroom in August

A primary school teacher introduced Alexandra Jensen to the power of personalized attention while learning, and now she aims to carry the educational baton forward as she begins her first professional teaching position in August.

In May, the Hinesville native earned a bachelor’s in special education, in addition to a minor in psychology and an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Endorsement, as she crossed Georgia Southern University’s commencement stage in Statesboro. 

Her goal is to emulate the kindness and connection exemplified by the teacher who made a lasting impression and offer a similar learning experience to her own students.

“My second grade teacher was a big influence on why I went into education,” Jensen said. “She was a very kind woman and she was close with my family. She tried to incorporate my interests, and I was drawn to that.”

In high school, Jensen volunteered at local elementary schools through the Early Childhood Pathway program and knew she would one day teach. It was during that time she discovered an even more specific calling in a self-contained classroom.

The self-contained environment fosters creativity and learning in children with special needs through one-on-one attention while in a smaller setting. 

“I loved how the teacher provided individualized interventions for her students,” Jensen recalled.

Evocative of the care she had received in her second-grade classroom, Jensen was inspired to narrow her focus to special education. 

She is excited to begin her role as a fifth grade co-teacher in a special education classroom at Frank Long Elementary School in Hinesville in the coming school year. She’s ready, she said, thanks to the education she received from Georgia Southern’s elementary and special education professors, namely Adam Carreon, Ph.D., and Kymberly Harris, Ph.D. 

“Georgia Southern has prepared me in many ways to become a special education teacher,” Jensen said. “One of the things that I believe helped me was taking Dr. Carreon’s and Dr. Harris’ classes during the fall semester. I consider a weakness of mine to be behavior management, so taking their classes challenged me and helped me grow in learning new ways of dealing with and supporting students’ behaviors.

“My field placements and student teaching also have been amazing because I got first-hand experience in the classroom and worked with students of different grade levels. Georgia Southern allowing me to intern in the schools showed me that teaching continues to be a passion of mine, and I love watching students progress and seeing their excitement for learning.”

She will also always be grateful for the support she received out of the classroom.

“Something I will miss most about being at the University is the friendships I created with my cohort,” Jensen said. “Overall, what made my college experience memorable was having a tight group of friends who helped to create a safe space during the many stressful times in college.” 

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