Imagine for a moment that you could create your own personal college. It would be focused on your particular needs. It would have professors who knew you and shared your passions. Classes would be closer to interesting conversations with a small group of friends than long lectures with dozens of strangers. And help would always be right next door. That’s a close description of Butler University. Learn more about how we take your education personally. 

Brooke Harris Garad

How have your students encouraged, inspired, or influenced you?
It’s rewarding to know that I have played a role in helping more elementary school students have access to high-quality teaching and instruction. The students we work with in the College of Education could end up becoming yours or my children’s teachers. We all want and deserve the best teachers for our children. Melissa Ryan, in particular, is a rockstar multitasker. Seeing her manage a classroom of 8- and 9-year-olds has reminded me that teachers are magicians,  scholars, caretakers, and leaders. I have enjoyed talking to Melissa about the difference between educational theory and practice this year. She has experienced first-hand some of the educational equity issues we research and write about in education scholarship. She can push back against theories based on her own experiential knowledge now. It’s inspiring to see. 

Why is mentoring important for college students?
Mentoring is important for many reasons, but it isn’t just important for college students. The benefits go both ways. A first-year teacher can benefit from a seasoned teacher’s knowledge, but a first-year teacher might also remind an experienced teacher of the spark and passion that brought them to the profession in the first place. To take it one step further, intergenerational and cross-cultural relationships are essential for helping us keep perspective and not become myopic. Teachers, maybe more than any other profession, interact with children and families from all walks of life. We have a professional responsibility to honor different ways of being and to stay open minded. I think mentoring helps us develop and maintain the awareness that there are many ways to be good at our work. 

What advice would you give a prospective student who’s considering Butler University?
The small size of Butler makes it unique. Small class sizes challenge students to show up, participate, and be actively involved in their learning. When you have a dozen students in class, it’s hard to hide. I also think Butler’s small size has the potential to teach students valuable lessons about building and maintaining relationships. Don’t burn bridges on campus or in your professional life because you never know how people are connected. Instead, treat everyone with respect and kindness and allow genuine relationships to pay dividends in your personal and professional life. Your teachers and classmates can truly get to know you at Butler. You can have access to some amazing opportunities if you take advantage of what our campus, city, and wide-reaching connections have to offer. 

Melissa Ryan
Elementary Education major, Diverse Learners and Special Education Mild Intervention minors
Bloomingdale, Illinois

Tell us about the connection you’ve made with your professor.
Professor Harris Garad was my supervisor for my first semester of student teaching. I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with her after getting to be a part of her teaching demonstration. I was in awe of her from that first meeting and my peers were jealous of the opportunity I was given to work with her. Our connection deepened with the conversations we were able to have. She embraced my teaching experiences and always allowed our conversations to flow beyond the intentions of her visit. I appreciated an outside perspective on my teaching and felt it was so beneficial that our relationship grew through that process rather than having started before it. 

How has your professor encouraged, inspired, or influenced you? 
Professor Harris Garad never failed to make me feel more confident in myself as an educator. She helped me to navigate the constant sea of thoughts I had about teaching. She helped to open a space for me to dive into questions of equity in education and provide insights from her own expertise. 

How have you grown as a result of the connections you had with your professor?
My confidence has grown so much. Having someone come watch you do your job can be intimidating; however, our time together actually had the opposite effect. I felt so comfortable with her in the classroom and never felt judged. Her praise and encouragement meant the most to me during this time. Especially since we didn’t have much of a prior relationship, I knew that her words were genuine, and she was seeing me for who I was as a professional. 

What do you think makes Butler unique?
For me, the small class sizes and push for community involvement stood out a lot during my college search. I was drawn to the sense of community. It was something I wanted. I also couldn’t stop obsessing over the Butler Lab Schools after my visit. I had never seen anything like it and couldn’t stop talking about them to my friends back home. Finally, Butler always stood out to me as a place that was constantly trying to improve. I knew I needed a place where growth was put first.