Q & A: Emma Martin

May 26, 2020

How did you feel about the teaching fellows program?

I heard about it from Mrs. [Angie] Byrd junior year. I’ve always heard about it, but I never knew what it was. When I did Teacher Cadet, Mrs. Byrd talked about how some of her students had done it and they loved it, and I was trying to figure it out. Basically, I heard about it from Mrs. Byrd and she told me what it meant and explained it to me, and I thought “Hey, that’s kinda cool. I wanna know more about that.”

What was the application process for joining?

First I had to fill out a basic form. They ask you a bunch of questions and you have to type up a bunch of responses. You have to do a few essays, get teacher recommendations, and that’s the first thing you do. After you submit your online application, they sort through those and then they pick who they are going to select for the interview process. The first part is like any scholarship, but if you get accepted into the interview part they narrow it down from 400 to 200 candidates. I worked on that for two months practicing interview questions, an essay that you have to do, a speech you put together about a current topic in S.C. education. Mine was mental health in schools, and I had to do a whole three-minute speech. It took an entire day to do it. It took me four hours to go to this place to do the process. That’s when you find out if you have been selected for the actual Teaching Fellows program and what college you got the loan for.

Why did you decide to join?
I was able to meet a lot of people through Teaching Fellows… I got to talk to them to learn about the program more, and that’s when I realized what a great resource this is for future educators. As someone going into education, I need to be in a program like Teaching Fellows. They just are a great support system…Having a great group of friends with the same interests as me and a passion for education seems really cool. That was something I had to have going into college. 

What did you do the moment you found out that you got in?

It was the day before my birthday, and I got a packet in the mail. It was kinda thick, and I knew that was a good sign. They do everything by mail, so you have to wait for the mail to come. Nancy, my best friend, was actually at my house and I told her to video it. She was like, ‘What if you don’t get it?’ and I said that it was all right because it will all work out. I wanted it so bad. As soon as I found out, we screamed, and then we celebrated, and then we got Sonic. It was just so awesome to have something that I have been working on for four months to finally work out, and to know that it was finally happening. Especially now, knowing that so much of my senior year has kind of ended unexpectedly, all of the things I’m looking forward to are kinda canceled. This I still have, and I’ll have that for the next four years.

What does being a part of the program mean?

As a freshman, there are probably 20 of us. We have meetings where it is just the 20 of us, so we can get to know each other. We can just talk about life in general, college. It’s like built in best friends. It’s like a sports team but it’s all people who care about school, which is funny. I know that they have a mentor-mentee program with some of the junior fellows and the sophomore freshman fellows. We do different volunteer things — like we will go volunteer at schools. Not only stuff for the Charleston community, but for kids elementary to high school to get experience. It seems like a lot of fun. 

What does being a Teaching Fellow mean for your future?

I know that being a part of this program is not only gonna help me out in college, but when I graduate. It means a lot to be a Teaching Fellow and I’m honored to be accepted. It says that I don’t just want to be a teacher, it says this is what I’m passionate about. It says that I don’t just care about education, but that I’m doing everything possible to be the best teacher I can be. It will help me in my future to open up more opportunities.


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