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Sarah Murrell: Masters of Arts in Teaching

Ever since Sarah Murrell can remember, teaching has been in the back of her mind. Whether it’s bonding with preschoolers in a neighborhood school or tutoring students in reading, she knows that she has a passion for seeing learning happen in the classroom. “God continues to put me in opportunities to teach and has affirmed me in those places,” she says.

The path into Multnomah’s MAT program has been a smooth one for Murrell. She received her BA in Intercultural Studies: TESOL from MU and spent some time teaching at a school in India for her practicum. But she still had her eyes on graduate school. “I looked at lots of other schools but was impressed with the quality of MU’s teaching,” Murrell says. “I also worked with an MAT student who had great classroom skills and spoke highly of the program.”

So Murrell jumped right in. “The program is small, but they have their act together,” she says. “Our professors have been top-quality; no class has been a waste, but has equipped me for what I need, and more.”

Opportunities for putting learning into action are everywhere. Last year Murrell worked as a reading tutor for a rural school in the area. “I attended MU classes on Tuesday night and was able to try out what I learned on Wednesday morning with the kids,” she says. Now Murrell is doing student teaching in a multiethnic urban school, and though the atmosphere is totally different, she is able to apply the same principles. “It is always amazing to see kids grow as readers; to get them excited about learning,” she says. “I love to see kids feeling good about themselves.”

Teaching in a public school requires a different approach.  “I want the kids to learn how to reflect God’s image in creative and unique ways,” Murrell says. “I want to be the kind of teacher who pours forth the fruit of the Spirit into her classroom, but I can’t be that consistent teacher unless I prioritize a close relationship with God. That is what is best for my students.”

Murrell is thrilled to learn how to love each child in her class. “At the end of the day I’m relying on God to give me his heart for the kids,” she says. “In order to produce anything good, I need to depend on him.”