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Careers in History: Education

Josh Swieringa ('10)

Middle School Teacher, Pennsylvania

I graduated from Calvin College in 2010 with a degree in History and Secondary Education and a minor in Religion.  I spent half a year working as a paraprofessional at an elementary School.  In August of 2011, I started teaching 7th and 8th graders at a Christian academy in Grove City, PA.Josh Swieringa

Why did you choose to major in history at Calvin? Why did you choose your minor?

Through many detours of deciding which major I would declare, I finally landed on History after my sophomore year. I decided to choose this major because I grew to love the stories and connections between different civilizations throughout the past. There are few things better than seeing how different cultures were influenced by others. Religion became my minor because I personally always had an interest in this subject. It always fit perfectly with my history major because religion plays vital roles within ideas and traditions that are spread through cultures.

How did your time at Calvin prepare you for what you are doing now? 

Calvin College helped me learn how to see history in a new and interesting way. I grew up thinking history was a boring subject that included dates and insignificant events. However, through my history classes I started to see a story line that ran through all those "insignificant” events that changed my view of history. God, through Calvin and its professors, gave me a passion for the subject I am able to teach now. 

What are your plans for the future?

My future plans are difficult right now  I am one who tries my best to live in the moment. However, as I think about my future, I believe that teaching history is something God has called me to do. I do not know where God will take me through my life, but I am excited to continue to learn more about His world and be able to travel to many of the locations that I am teaching about in the classroom.

Do you have any advice for current students or those thinking of majoring in history at Calvin?

My advice for any Calvin students looking into the History major or are in the middle of it is simple. Calvin has a fantastic program with outstanding professors teaching History. I would not be where I am today without Calvin’s great history program. Do not let anyone tell you that you are in an insignificant program. Just remember to do what you love and learn about what you love. God will lead you the rest of the way!


Laura Vos ('10)

Middle School Teacher, Tennessee

I officially graduated in December of 2010 with a major in History and a minor in English within the Secondary Education track. I am currently a 7th grade ELA teacher at a middle school in Memphis, TN through Teach For America (TFA). I am currently in the middle of transferring schools however, and seeking a history position. Laura Vos with her students


Why did you choose to major in history at Calvin? Why did you choose your minor?

I decided to be a history major at Calvin because of my interest in the subject back in middle school. I also had an excellent U.S. history teacher in high school who I really admired. Similarly, I decided to be an English minor because of my high school English teachers. As an education major it also made sense to pursue a minor in English because of the amount of writing that is required in history courses; moreover, there is a larger demand for English teachers because of the high burn out rate.

How did your time at Calvin prepare you for what you are doing now?

I think Calvin prepared me for teaching through TFA by teaching me to reflect on my work and reflect on my relationship with God so that I can better understand His plan for my life. I have overall really appreciated the emphasis Calvin places on learning how to live well in Christ. This has helped me to establish a balance between my professional and personal life as well as how I live out my faith despite the amount of work I am required to complete.

What are your plans for the future?

After I complete my TFA commitment I plan to teach for five years and then pursue a PhD in American history and a masters in urban education in hopes to return to Calvin and advise secondary education history majors. I hope to develop an urban education program at Calvin because I think that is an important field, and Calvin students should be encouraged to offer their talents to help redeem the public education system in the U.S.

Do you have any advice for current students or those thinking of majoring in history at Calvin?

My advice for current students majoring in history at Calvin is to get experience in a variety of fields before leaving college so that you are more familiar with what you want to pursue. Before graduating I did internships at a museum, an archive, and various schools and this helped me to better understand the passions God has put on my heart to pursue. I feel a better sense of direction for how to use the talents God has given me to redeem this world and begin to build the foundations for His Kingdom here on earth.

 

Dave Boven ('04)

Social Studies Teacher, India

David Bowen in IndiaSince graduating from Calvin in 2004, I have been able to use my history degree to teach middle school social studies all over the world, from New York to the Black Forest Academy in Germany to inner-city Chicago and now in northern India. My education from the history department at Calvin prepared me for these diverse assignments. The critical thinking skills that I developed in the Calvin curriculum have helped me to effectively teach students of different races, cultures, and socioeconomic classes.

I chose to major in history because I thought it would be the best path to learning everything that has ever happened in the world. I tell my students often that history is the most important subject that they will learn. All of those scientific and mathematical discoveries are a part of history, as are all of those brilliant English literature pieces.

My Calvin history education taught me to think critically. As a social studies teacher at the secondary level, it is tempting to have students memorize the important names and dates of the past. In my classes, though, the goal is to get students to think about the past for themselves. This is something that I owe to my professors at Calvin.

History is the best and everyone should major in it!

 

Graham Reeves

ESL Teacher in Seoul, South Korea

Calvin prepared me for being an ESL teacher by improving my writing and critical thinking skills so that I could pass them on to others. I also learned a lot of empathy for various people around the world because I learned some of their stories.

I chose history because it was the perfect interdisciplinary major. I could study anything I wanted to from a historical perspective.

My advice for history majors is to get into local history and try to do some of your own work writing the history of your hometown and/or current place of residence. It will give you some idea of what historians do outside of the classroom.