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WMU Presidential Scholar Hailey Timmerman Eyes KPS Teaching Career

hailey timmermanHailey Timmerman’s first job convinced her that teaching was meant to be her only job. 

Timmerman graduated in April from Western Michigan University with a degree in early childhood education. She was named a 2022 WMU Presidential Scholar. She hopes to begin teaching with Kalamazoo Public Schools in the fall. 

A 2017 Loy Norrix High School graduate, Timmerman’s first job was with Prevention Works, an afterschool program that educates children on drug and violence prevention. 

“I was like, ‘I like kids.’ I felt like I could do it for free,” she said. “I especially liked working with the younger population. They were just so excited to see me and to engage. They were like sponges, ready to soak up learning.” 

After graduating from Norrix, Timmerman enrolled in Western Michigan University where she took advantage of The Kalamazoo Promise scholarship which covered her tuition, and she was selected for the Future Educators Program, a U.S. Department of Education grant program that promotes the retention and graduation of future teachers. 

For the lifelong student, college was an opportunity to examine education from the other side.

 “I started learning best practices about how to make learning more fun and engaging. I think when you do that, it helps with some of the behavior problems. It’s not just about repeating information, but to teach the information in a way that makes sense and really engages students. 

“You want to teach it in a way that really makes sense to the students. I like thinking about problems from a student’s perspective because that helps me teach effectively.” 

Her classroom learning has been supplemented by several hands-on teaching experiences. Her first field experiences were as a volunteer with Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo’s afterschool program. She worked for the Kalamazoo Public Schools summer school program, worked as a one-on-one literacy coach for a student, and did a virtual field placement with Greenwood Elementary and a Head Start preschool class. She completed a pre-internship with Edison Academy and a full-time internship at Parkwood-Upjohn Elementary School in the winter. 

As an intern, she’s had her work overseen by her classroom mentor teachers and an observational coach from WMU. In addition, she’s been proactive about reaching out to other educators for advice. She’s been recording herself when she’s in front of classes, and has asked her former KPS elementary principal, Vickie Winfield, to review the recordings to offer advice. 

Her hope is to find a job teaching third grade — her favorite age group. 

“I love third-graders,” she said. “They’re still excited and ready to learn. Behavior isn’t as much of an issue. I like little kids, but with them, so much of it is teaching them how to school, like sitting still and tying their shoes. Third grade is a happy medium.”