My Bentley Story by Stefanie Vestal
I can pretty much trace all of my success and where I am today back to my decision to attend Bentley. The beginning of my sophomore year I met my best friend, Laura, when we were randomly assigned as roommates; she remains one of my closest friends today. During college I became involved in service-learning and Circle K and through that service organization I found City Year, an AmeriCorps program. I decided after graduation to forgo a more traditional route into business and to join AmeriCorps. I served the urban communities of Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. for two years, then was happy to join the staff of City Year in D.C. for an additional four years. It was through work in education and running service-learning programs with middle and high school youth that I decided to become a teacher. I am now a proud sixth grade teacher at Herndon Elementary School in Northern Virginia. Every day presents new challenges, but amazing successes and memories. I love seeing my students grow and develop throughout the year; I love it when they tell me that they are enjoying learning and school. I love helping a student who has just arrived to our country learn English and help them to feel more comfortable. I love it when I see a student who has struggled with reading learn to decode words and find a book that can read and discover how fun reading can be. I am also enrolled in an Education Leadership Master's program at George Mason University. Because I went to Bentley and pursued extra-curricular activities I am where I am today. Because I took advantage of so many amazing classes and opportunities that Bentley had to offer I am a better person and teacher. Every day as a teacher I am drawing on my Bentley experiences; I am teaching my students not only about math, language arts, social studies and science, but about life skills, real world application of the content and how to be a good person. I require all of my sixth grade students to do 10 hours of community service, in addition to the 10 that our school requires. I also work with the kindergarten classes and have my students serve as reading buddies to kindergarten students one day a week. I learned at Bentley that life is more than the classes we take in college, it is about real world application of the knowledge we acquire in those classes. I learned at Bentley about being inclusive of people from different countries, cultures, backgrounds and a multitude of other diversity factors. In addition to the amazing knowledge I learned at Bentley, one of my biggest and lasting takeaways was about being a good person and giving back to my community. I have worked since graduating college to pass along those same attributes to my students and I will continue to be dedicated to that work. It does not matter where my students or their families come from, it matters how hard they work, how much they want to succeed and that they are good people. That is my Bentley story.