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Loyola's 5th Year MAT program helped me find a community of educators

Emily Manzo

I knew from the minute that I stepped onto Loyola University Maryland’s campus during Fall Welcome Weekend that I wanted to do the 5th Year Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. Yes, I was that first-year student who sat down in front of their advisor in August with the next five years of their collegiate career mapped out, down to the class. I knew that I wanted to teach, and I knew that I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that the Loyola’s teacher education department had to offer. However, I had no way of knowing what was in store for me during my college career.

I graduated from Loyola as an undergraduate student in January 2021. I was heading into my graduate studies for teaching having just experienced the last three semesters of my collegiate career completely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a jarring experience, as I watched the education field transform for both students and teachers. Learning how to teach took on new forms. My mentors and professors were learning how to teach virtually at the same time they were instructing me on how to teach in general. My first internship experience as a part-time intern at Overlea High School was virtual for the first two months. Connecting with students felt nearly impossible. Education felt sterile and distant where it was always warm and full of connection for me.

As time went on, and I took more classes at Loyola throughout the pandemic, I was able to see a creativity and resilience from the educators I worked with that I would have never imagined. The community of teachers that I found during my graduate classes found new ways to engage students every day. They researched new technologies, created virtual classrooms, and planned interesting lessons daily. I was impressed by their hopefulness and enthusiasm in the face of such large roadblocks in education. The Loyola professors transitioned on the spot to educating new teachers in skills that they were also using for the first time. The academic excellence I experienced at Loyola made me exceptionally prepared for the classroom, and the community of educators I gained taught me resilience and resourcefulness more than anything. I learned how to lesson plan and I learned classroom management. But most importantly, I learned how to lean on a professional community whose expertise and patience are unmatched by any other.

Emily Manzo is a recent graduate of Loyola’s 5th Year Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. To learn more about the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, please visit our website.