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St. Thomas More’s Megan Gosda may now teach one of the most advanced classes a high-schooler can take — AP history — but in her six-year career, she has taught students in every grade down to kindergarten. The University of Nebraska graduate began her career on the Winnebago Reservation in northeastern Nebraska, where she taught K-8 physical education and middle-school social studies. Four years ago, while in her third year of graduate school at Creighton University, she and her husband moved to Champaign. While her career has spanned a wide array of students, her philosophy of creating lifelong learners hasn’t changed.
I find my work important because ... no one can take away your education from you. You can lose your family, home, money, jobs, but your education is something that stays with you no matter where life takes you. It allows for people to be exposed to areas outside of what they know or have grown up with. This goes into why I became a teacher as well. I want to be able to give someone something tangible that is theirs forever. Teaching is not just about getting people to the next phase in life or to their future dream jobs. Teaching is about creating lifelong learners, instilling the desire to expand our minds beyond our day-to-day life.
My favorite lesson I have developed is ... a lesson on philosophers. I print off about 12 philosophers from the 17th and 18th centuries. I have the students go around the room, read a brief paragraph about them, and take notes in an organizer. After that, I have them write a paper on what I call “This I Believe,” based on a special series NPR did about 10 years ago. The students have to write a personal essay of 600 words writing their own statement of their personal belief. It needs to tell a story about oneself, tying into one’s daily life philosophy and shaping of their beliefs. My favorite essay I have read was talking about how a cold Coke on a summer day brings joy. The student described a day at his grandparents’ lakehouse, going to the fridge and cracking open an ice-cold Coke and how the simplicity of that brings him joy. There have been so many amazing essays I have been able to read from this assignment — clever essays, funny essays, serious essays, essays where students really open up, etc. It is such a fun assignment to get to know my students better!
The most fulfilling part about my job ... is finishing AP U.S. history every year. What is so fulfilling about this is the growth I get to see develop in students from August until May. This is such a challenging course. Every year, I have people fail my first test or second or third and come to me stating they can not complete the course, they are not made for it. Every year, those students rise to the occasion, push themselves and learn how to achieve that next level of thinking, and about 90 percent of the time, those students pass the AP exam. Even the students who come into my class at a higher academic level have so much growth in knowledge, study habits, organization and writing. At the end of the year, I hand out a long essay, and I get to experience the level of academia attained by my students.
Something else I am passionate about is ... exercise. I love being outside! I love sports, running, skiing. I have run four half-marathons. I have also coached boys’ and girls’ soccer here at St. Thomas More. My favorite sports are track, cross-country and downhill skiing, and soccer.
My favorite teacher was ... Dr. Sarah Thomas of the University of Nebraska. She taught a course on schools and society, basically teaching teachers. I have a passion for history but a great passion for education in general. She helped instill this love in me to be a teacher and lover of education.
If I weren’t a teacher ... I would have loved to be a dietician. I love food, health and exercise!