Program Award Winner: Jennifer Sokol

 Each year, faculty in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) come together to select an outstanding student in their program to receive the honor of being named as their program award winner. Students selected for this award embody the very best of their program: they excel in their studies; they demonstrate leadership in classes and internships; and they have a genuine and tenacious passion for their discipline.

This year, faculty in Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and Exceptional Learners (TCLDEL) have selected Jennifer Sokol as their Outstanding StudentinTeaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and Exceptional Learners. Congratulations, Jennifer!

Q & A with Outstanding Student in Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and Exceptional Learners (ESOL), Jennifer Sokol

What academic accomplishment are most proud of?  ​ 

I have been able to connect almost all of my class Performance Based Assessments (PBAs) to an issue I care deeply about in my own classroom and school – increasing equity for non-Spanish speaking emergent bilinguals.  

What organizations/affiliations have you been involved with while at Mason? ​

As a part time graduate student and a full time teacher, I have not been involved in Mason specific organizations, but have gotten involved in the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) based on the recommendation of several professors.  I am also a member of the education divisions of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Chemical Society (ACS), and National Science Teaching Association (NSTA).  

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I am going to continue to teach science in both general education and sheltered language instruction settings.  I also plan to continue with action research focused on improving engagement, inclusion, and academic outcomes for non-Spanish speaking emergent bilinguals in Spanish dominant ESOL programs.    

What is your favorite memory in CEHD or your favorite part of being a CEHD student?

My favorite memory is the way the my whole 661 class (almost) was a subset of the 520 class.  We worked together and supported each other as a true community of learners.  I especially love that during these exceptional circumstances, the group reconnected over text to touch base and check on each other – even if I still can’t reply to the whole group at once.   I also always felt like the professors were really interested in what myself and my classmates were doing in our classrooms and who we are outside of class.  

What advice do you have for fellow CEHD students (especially those that are not graduating yet)?

My advice is to be proactive.  Reach out to your professors and your classmates when you are struggling academically or personally.  They will help you to be successful if you ask.  Then, when you get your own classroom, remember to be there the same way for your students. 

Ws there anything else you would like to share about yourself? 

I started my program to learn how to better teach my emergent bilingual students.  While I did gain some strategies and a better understanding of how to reach students where they are, I learned a lot more about my own reasons for teaching and how to ensure that I continue to grow as a person and a professional.