My College Story: From Student to Teacher

Devin Cherry tells a story about becoming a teacher.

Devin Cherry

Devin Cherry grew up in Kentucky and attended three different schools over the course of his postsecondary education: the University of Louisville, Murray State University, and University of the Cumberlands. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science in environmental geology from Murray State after transferring from the University of Louisville, and in 2016, he was awarded a Master’s of Arts in teaching from the University of the Cumberlands. He currently teaches ninth grade integrated science and elective science classes (astronomy, meteorology, geology, and “Science Fiction vs. Science Fact”) for 10–12th graders in Henderson, KY.

Q. Growing up, did you always know that you wanted to be a teacher?

No, I never would have imagined being a teacher despite coming from a family of teachers (not my parents, but several of my aunts are/were teachers). I had been told all my life, however, that I was a natural teacher, and [I] have always had a passion for telling others all about science. I think I always had the idea that teaching was a possibility, but never considered it until a few years ago.

Q. What made you decide to start teaching?

I had begun a Master’s in Geographic Information Science at MSU but didn’t enjoy it. After having a little teaching experience in college teaching Geology 101 lab sessions and working with school groups at Fossil Butte National Monument, I decided to research how to get started in a career in teaching. This is now my third year teaching.

Q. How did you choose your college(s)?

I chose MSU due to its small town nature, and that it was close to home. University of the Cumberlands was the cheapest and quickest route to becoming certified in teaching.

Q. What was involved in the process of transferring from UofL to MSU? Did you lose credits in the process or hit any road bumps?

I don’t believe I lost any credits in the process (this was a long time ago!) although I did find out that I didn’t need to take a few classes that I took as prerequisites at UofL when I declared a major at MSU.

Q. You completed an online degree. What was different about that compared to your undergraduate experience?

Online classes [are] very different from brick-and-mortar classrooms. University of the Cumberlands’ format is an online chatroom in which you listen/watch the professor teach via webcam and participate through a texting/chat window. This takes some getting used to, especially when they ask for a response from the entire class and everyone answers at once! The best part of online classes is that for the most part, you can work at your own pace, and you can log into class from anywhere with an internet connection.

Q. You've worked a lot with the National Park Service. How does that supplement your education and your career?

As I mentioned before, with the National Park Service, I worked with many school groups that toured Fossil Butte. I became very adept at informing visitors of all ages and backgrounds about the story of Fossil Butte and the geology/paleontology of the park. This helped me to be able to (to use an education buzzword) differentiate lessons to students of diverse backgrounds with different levels of prior understanding. The National Park Service also allowed me the opportunity to travel, spend extended amounts of time away from Kentucky, and see things from many different perspectives.

Q. What do you hope to do in the future?

The best part of teaching is having the summer off (or at least parts of the summer). I plan on volunteering with the National Park Service every few years, working on projects for Fossil Butte as well as other parks. I hope to stay in the classroom until retirement, and then possibly look for a job with the NPS after retirement!

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