Dakota Walker loved school growing up. When she found out she could teach professionally, she wanted to pursue it. As she progressed through high school and college, she found service projects and clinical placements that made her especially interested in the unique needs and talents of special education students.
“I want to be able to give back to students who are in special education and to be there as an advocate and a resource for them,” she said.
She is currently a senior and a student teacher at Elizabeth Lane Elementary. When she graduates in May, she plans to move back home to work with special education students at Kings Mountain Intermediate School.
She said UNC Charlotte has prepared her for the classroom in ways that are applicable to our changing society and up-to-date with the latest research that provides the best learning for children.
“My experience as a student teacher has been huge. I have been able to learn from my clinical educators but also take risks and begin to figure out my own way within a classroom setting that fits my style along with my kids' needs.”
The biggest influence on her teaching draws on social cognitive theories and is the idea that being intentional with words and actions will help students do the same. “We make choices every day and, whether it be academic or social, they affect us and those around us, and I want to instill this idea within my students so that they are learning not only how to be good students but also good citizens,” she explained.
Next fall, she plans to bring her skill sets back home to the community she grew up in. “My biggest hope is that I am able to give back to the students in the community that gave so much to me and shaped me into the person I am today. I want to be a support system for all students to help show them that they can achieve anything,” she said.