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College of Education Grad One of Eight from UK Selected for Japan Exchange and Teaching Program

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Photo of Laura Birdsong“I selected middle level education as my major because I have a passion for helping students develop a growth mindset and gain confidence in their own abilities. By becoming an educator I have dedicated my life to being a lifelong learner, and continue to enjoy learning as much from the students as they learn from me.”
– Laura Birdsong

For Laura Birdsong, a 2018 middle level teacher education/social studies graduate from Georgetown, Kentucky, education is transformative.

“I selected middle level education as my major because I have a passion for helping students develop a growth mindset and gain confidence in their own abilities,” Birdsong said. “My experiences working with English language students sparked my interest in teaching English as a second language. Additionally, I studied abroad in Osaka, Japan, which expanded my understanding of the Japanese language and culture. Through this program, I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and was able to see the beauty of Japan’s landscape, participate in rich intercultural experiences, and develop further friendships with students from around the world.”

Birdsong will have the ability to expand upon that experience as one of eight University of Kentucky graduates selected to participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, which provides them with the opportunity to live and work in Japan as assistant language teachers or as coordinators for international relations as interpreters/translators. The 2018 class of UK JET recipients is the largest class from the university to date.

Birdsong hopes that she will be a positive influence on her students, as her teachers have been for her. She is especially grateful for the encouragement she received from Dr. Margaret Rintamaa, Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the UK College of Education and program chair of the Middle Level Education program. “Dr. Rintamaa has played an influential role in my desire to teach,” Birdsong said. “She has always been there to guide me, and has taught me the skills necessary to create a lasting impact on my future students. If it were not for her thoughtful advice, instruction, and insight, I would not be driven to become the student and educator I am today. I want to thank her for allowing me to see that great learning can take place from one’s mistakes, and for pushing me towards success.”

For more about the 2018 UK graduates selected for the JET program, see the full story on UKNow.