Education grad credits co-op opportunity with career success
Conely graduated in May 2012 with a bachelor’s in education and an emphasis in speech and theater. She learned a lot inside the classroom, but it was her time spent away from school as a co-op student for three semesters at Wichita High School South that gave her the real-life experience necessary to get a job straight out of college.
Her hard work paid off, and Conely is now an English teacher at South and has also become licensed to teach speech and theater.
“I am so glad I chose to do co-op,” she said. “In fact, I’m sure I wouldn’t have the job I have now if it weren’t for my experience here at South doing co-op while in school.”
Conely also points to the fact that getting that co-op position allowed her to make a name for herself and stand out from the competition.
“I met the principal and got to know many teachers here at South, and that helped when it came time for me to interview for a teaching position,” she said.
Making local connections
Conely, 24, has always wanted to be a teacher and got involved with WSU’s Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning Program to see how she could become one.
She was paired with a teacher, Cathy Mong, at South High and began working as a para-educator for the Future Educators of America club. Along with working with high school students who also wanted to become teachers, Conely was able to learn the skills she needed for classroom management, lesson planning, behavior techniques and building student relationships.
“I got to learn things specific to this district – things that are too specific to be taught in the education classes, like the online grading system they use and the online substitute finder they use,” she said. “Learning that was invaluable.”
Conely said when talking to high schoolers, she encourages them to attend college closest to where they want to eventually work.
“If you go to Wichita state, you network with people in Wichita. If you go to K-State or KU and you network with people in Manhattan or Lawrence, then when the time comes for you to move back home and get a job here in Wichita, you find yourself in a world with no associates or colleagues,” she said. “Going to WSU gave me an awesome network of people that eventually helped me get my job. Not only that, I am working with former classmates, even. So it’s nice to have that already established sense of camaraderie. I’m so proud to call myself a Shocker alum.”