If you have kids in the future, the students in Ferris’ Student Michigan Education Association (SMEA) might be the ones teaching them every day.
Ferris’ chapter of SMEA was established this fall, but has been an “underground” RSO for about three years, according to President Padric Bolen.
“We’ve been trying to get the ball rolling and start a foundation,” said Bolen, who’s studying social studies elementary education at Ferris and student teaching at Morley Stanwood Community Schools. “So we’ve been motivated, we’ve been productive and we get stuff done, which is awesome.”
SMEA raises awareness about education topics not taught in the classroom through activities such as attending conferences and hosting professional development events.
All of the members are current college students, so they use their personal experiences as insight to improve education.
“I grew up with, like, no money whatsoever, and I was always looked down upon for that and was told I wasn’t going to go anywhere,” social studies and science education senior Ashley Thorson said. “And as an educator, I don’t want other students to go through that. I want their teachers to be able to believe in themselves and believe in their students and help them get over any obstacles they might face.”
Social studies and history education senior Paul Gjeljaj is currently a full-time student, while also teaching 8th grade at Morley Stanwood before he graduates in May. He said the fact that teachers spend more time with their students than a lot of other people in their lives is a reason he wants to live up to his teaching potential.
“I think having a positive role model in the classroom can really change some kids’ lives, as corny as that is,” Gjeljaj said. “I have some students where you just know they’re having a hard time at home, and I can tell that, and being uplifting or positive to them can change how they act that day. Or they could be like, ‘Remember five years ago when you taught us this?’ or ‘I got this right on Trivia Crack because of what you said!’ Little things like that. I know it’s not big but it’s some positive reinforcement in their life.”
Even though SMEA is a newer RSO, its members love the effect it’s had on their Ferris experience.
“I think it has grown and we’ve become quite good friends,” elementary education senior Cierra Friesen said. “We hang out even not in the group. It’s made my college experience more enjoyable. I’ve branched out and I’m more open and happy.”
In the future, SMEA is planning on getting together with local schools to fix them up and collaborating with local libraries for book drives.
SMEA is hoping to expand and add more members in the future.