Winona State University student Grant Gill changed his major twice before discovering his passion for teaching. He’s taken heavy classloads each semester and worked sometimes 80-90 hours a week to support himself. But in the end, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“After 4.5 years of attending and living in Winona, I keep getting blown away by the beauty, opportunities, and experiences WSU and the city continues to offer,” said Gill.
Gill, of Cameron, Wis., will graduate from WSU this fall with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics: Secondary Teaching and a minor in Coaching.
Even though he has yet to receive his degree, Gill already has a full-time job teaching math in St. Charles. The arrangement is part of an effort by the State of Minnesota to address teacher shortages in select areas.
“There is currently a nation-wide teacher shortage in specific areas of licensure, including special education, math and science,” said Jane Morken, Director of Student Teaching and Clinical Practice at WSU. “WSU partners with many area schools for pre student teaching field placements, and some districts in our region have reached out to WSU to enlist help in filling open positions in their schools. We do our best to support their needs and provide potential names of candidates to districts, allowing them to determine a match.”
For Gill, the opportunity to teach full-time as a middle-school math teacher while doing his student teaching in the classroom independently was like a dream come true.
“I was offered the job as the eighth grade math teacher after the interview, and it was one of the best moments of my life,” said Gill. “All the hard work I put into my education and becoming a good teacher paid off. It’s been an amazing experience from day one and I couldn’t imagine starting my teaching career off any better way.”
Gill credits Winona State for providing him with the opportunities, resources and support he needed to succeed. Even beyond that, he says the university taught him how to be part of community and the importance of caring and making a difference in the world.
“The most important thing WSU taught me was simply that being a good person matters. And what I mean by that is, if you treat people with respect, are nice, and you take joy in the fact that you made someone smile or happy, you’re going to go a long way in life,” said Gill. “I’m very excited to continue to make a difference outside of WSU so people can see the type of people WSU is sending out into the real world.”
WSU Fall Commencement Ceremonies will be at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9 in McCown Gymnasium. The 10 a.m. ceremony will feature the Colleges of Business, Education and Science, and the 2 p.m. ceremony will feature the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Nursing and Health Sciences. For more information about commencement, visit http://www.winona.edu/graduation/commencement.asp.
For more information, call the WSU Communications Office at 507-457-5024.