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Katherine Kuwada

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Katherine Kuwada

GSE Program: 
MA, Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), Elementary Education
BS in Psychology and Child Studies, Santa Clara University
Year of GSE degree: 
Oahu, Hawaii

"It has been such an impactful and humbling experience working alongside experienced teachers, especially ones who care so deeply about their work in education."

You’re almost done with STEP! How would you describe the experience?

It has been such an impactful and humbling experience working alongside experienced teachers, especially ones who care so deeply about their work in education. Last fall, I was in a kindergarten class in Sunnyvale and now I am in a third grade class in San Francisco. Each day, I have seen the excitement these students have for learning. I have been able to create lessons that teach my students crucial content, while engaging in topics they are passionate about. I have learned about differentiating instruction for my EL [English learner] students and students with IEP and 504 plans [plans to ensure that children with disabilities receive specialized instruction and/or accommodation to ensure their academic success], specifically through multisensory instruction, to make their learning experiences more meaningful. Throughout my time as a student-teacher, I have learned so much about different curricula, accommodations, and establishing norms.

How did you decide that you wanted to be a teacher? 

As a child, I always told my friends, family, and teachers that I wanted to become a teacher. My second grade teacher was a huge inspiration to me because she integrated art and social justice into the classroom. This teacher took time out of her schedule to touch on important topics and social justice issues of the time. Because of her, I grew to understand that I too needed to speak up about important issues my community and other communities were facing. I then fell in love with education throughout high school and college, which led me to pursue a masters in education and teaching credential. 

What were you doing prior to applying to the GSE?

I was finishing up my final year as an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, where I was majoring in psychology and child studies. Due to the pandemic, I was doing virtual class from home in Oahu, Hawaii. 

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Where do you hope to be in five years?

In five years, I hope to be teaching in a school down in southern California, contributing to an environment that provides an equitable education to students from diverse backgrounds. I also hope to be the type of educator who inspires, like my second grade teacher was for me. 

What advice do you have for students who are trying to decide whether to attend STEP?

STEP is a rigorous program because you will be juggling placement and classes, as well as independent student teaching and job searching later on. Ensure you are mentally and physically prepared for the year and half ahead of you!

Any tips for incoming students to help them get the most from their time in STEP?

My advice is to make time for things that bring you joy, whether that's art, cooking, or spending time with friends and family. I also recommend you find people inside and outside the program whom you can lean on and talk to. Lastly, go into the program with an open mind and heart! Listen to learn and soak in all the information and experiences you can. 

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Photos by Sofiia Kukhar

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