May 6, 2024

From student to teacher, Lamar native receives education degree from FMU

For as long as she can remember, Lamar native SarahGrace Hanrahan has wanted to be a teacher. On Saturday morning, she walked across the commencement stage in Francis Marion University’s Smith University Center and fulfilled this dream as she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. In a few short months, she will enter her first classroom at Henry Timrod Elementary School in Florence as an elementary school teacher.

Hanrahan first became interested in FMU after participating in the Teacher Cadet Program during her senior year at Lamar High School. Through this program, she was able to go into an elementary school classroom and assist a teacher as well as teach a lesson over the course of a semester. Another high point of the program was a day spent at FMU where she interacted with faculty from the School of Education and current education majors. That day spent on campus sealed the deal for Hanrahan, who could not imagine continuing her education at any place besides Francis Marion.

Hanrahan entered Francis Marion as a freshman in the fall of 2020. Shortly after, she had her first observation experience in a kindergarten classroom at Henry Timrod Elementary, where she spent fifty hours observing a class as part of the education curriculum. From her very first day in that classroom, she knew she was doing exactly what she was supposed to do. How fitting it is that her first teaching position after college will be in this elementary school.

Four years and hundreds of hours of field work in classrooms at Henry Timrod, Delmae Heights, and Lamar-Spaulding elementary schools, Hanrahan knows she is prepared for her own classroom in a few short months. 

“When you graduate from Francis Marion with a degree in education, you know you not only have the knowledge to educate your students, but you also have the hands-on experience needed to run your own classroom,” says Hanrahan. “Throughout my years in the education program, I was taught not only the principles of education and how to manage a classroom, I also gained invaluable experience in learning the soft skills that are so important for a teacher to have to help me as I build relationships with my future students and their families.”

Hanrahan credits her professors – there are too many to name, she says – with not only equipping her with the skills and knowledge needed for the future, but constantly encouraging her and her peers through the whole program. She says that it was apparent from her first day as a student that the faculty at FMU care about you as a person and are rooting for your successes both in and out of the classroom. This is something she experienced more in-depth during this past semester as a student teacher.

“My student teaching advisors were so invested in my success as a student teacher,” says Hanrahan. “They were constantly reminding my cohort and me that we are prepared to teach the future generation and consistently encouraged us through every experience we encountered as student teachers.”

Hanrahan’s student teaching experience at Lamar-Spaulding Elementary School has made her excited for her own classroom in the fall. Just as so many of her influential teachers had a hand in encouraging her to pursue her dream of one day becoming a teacher, she wants to do the same for her students.

“I can’t wait to be part of my students’ stories just like so many of my teachers have been a part of mine,” says Hanrahan. “I want my students to be excited and engaged in the classroom while developing a love of learning. My grandmother always told me that your education is something that cannot ever be taken away. This is something I hope to pass on to my students as I encourage them to be all that they can be.”