HU Student Aspen Proctor Excels at Student Teaching and Soccer
New Mexico Highlands University student Aspen Proctor is getting high marks for her student teaching at West Las Vegas Middle School in 6th grade English. She’s also graduating summa cum laude in May, the highest academic honor conferred.
Proctor said she has the same kind of passion and dedication for teaching that she had for soccer when she suited up for the Cowgirls as a defender. The 23-year-old from Midland, Texas came to Highlands on a soccer scholarship to play the game she loves and pursue her goal of teaching English.
Proctor is one of 46 School of Education student teachers placed this semester in school districts from Raton to Alamogordo, with 20 working in local schools.
“Aspen is a natural teacher, and the sky is the limit for her in this profession,” said Marsha Zamora, Proctor’s cooperating teacher at West Las Vegas Middle School.”Her work ethic is phenomenal, and she’s always looking for ways to improve her teaching. Aspen has established strong rapport with her students, helping make her a very effective young teacher with this unique age.”
Zamora, who has taught for 20 years, said she sees Proctor as a teacher who will change her students’ lives.
“Aspen has the ability to walk into a classroom and make magic happen,” said Highlands University secondary education professor Merryl Kravitz, who supervises Proctor’s student teaching. “She’s an extraordinary student, a go getter who always has creative, innovative ideas for the classroom. As she grows as a professional teacher, I see her taking a leadership role with her colleagues.”
Since joining the School of Education faculty in 1994, Kravitz has taught hundreds of promising teachers in training. Before earning her Ph.D., she also taught middle school for 14 years.
“The kids have so much potential they don’t even know about yet,” Proctor said. “As a teacher, if I can show them a glimpse of what they’re capable of it’s exciting. Helping students understand a word, comprehend a paragraph, and find enjoyment in school, that’s rewarding.”
Proctor describes herself as a bit of nerd who always loved to read and write.
“I was the biggest bookworm ever and started writing a fantasy book in 5th grade,” Proctor said. “I had great English teachers in high school who were inspirational role models. I taught archery in a summer youth program, planting the seed that I wanted to be a teacher.”
Proctor said there are many parallels between teaching and soccer, with so much going on behind the scenes to be successful.
“I do my best in a team environment, working and helping others,” Proctor said. “As teachers we’re like soccer players in that we’re a team pushing our students to be the best they can be.
“I love the saying, â€˜eat, breathe, sleep soccer.’ For me, the same idea applies to teaching: I eat, breathe, sleep teaching. I actually dream about teaching, and everything around me is fuel for possible lessons, whether it’s a movie, a great quote, or a funny moment,” Proctor said.
Highlands University soccer coach Justin Wagar said: “As a defensive sweeper, Aspen was a leader on the field, the captain of the defense. You lead vocally or by example and Aspen did both. She’s an excellent, well-rounded person of strong character.”
Proctor said she’s thankful for the teacher training she received at Highlands.
“The School of Education professors are amazing, and are also experienced classroom teachers who don’t sugarcoat the profession,” Proctor said. “They tell you what to expect in different teaching situations and help you prepare.”
Proctor is applying for middle school English teaching jobs in New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. Someday she hopes to be back on the soccer field as a coach.