Graduating senior loves the classroom and helping children

Photo courtesy Jaclyn Mait
By Barbara Gutierrez

Photo courtesy Jaclyn Mait

Graduating senior loves the classroom and helping children

By Barbara Gutierrez
Jaclyn Mait, a student in the University of Miami School of Education and Human Development, will begin her graduate studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the fall.

When an 11-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder refused to participate in her class, Jaclyn Mait, a student teacher from the School of Education and Human Development, decided to take it as an opportunity for learning and growth.

“I gravitate toward children who are facing challenges,” said Mait, who was completing her student teaching internship at Tropical Elementary School in Plantation. She began to explore what topics interested the young boy and then integrated them into her lessons. Within weeks, the student had stopped crying and instead was presenting his work in front of the fifth-grade class.

“To see him become happy with his work and happy to present in front of the class was so incredible, so rewarding,” she said. “It was great, the best feeling ever.”

The University of Miami senior graduates next week with a double major in elementary education/exceptional student education and human development and a minor in biology.

Mait’s hard work and love of education earned her admission to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she will start in the fall to study for a master’s degree in the human development and education program, school counseling strand.

“I love helping people feel more confident, and working at the elementary level, I feel I can do that,” Mait said. “I am dedicated to working with kids and making the world a better place, and a teacher is in a perfect position to do that because you get to teach kids lessons early on, like how to care and be kind to others and have empathy for others.”

Mait discovered her love of working with children early in her teenage years when she worked as a counselor in various summer camps. Her mother noticed her enthusiasm and creativity in fashioning projects for the children and encouraged her to enter the field of education.  

She will be receiving the top Teaching and Learning Student Award from her school. Mait has maintained a 4.0 grade point average during her four years at the University.

“Jackie’s commitment to growth and her passion for learning was evident not only in her perfect GPA, but also in her classroom behavior,” said assistant professor Jennifer Krawec. “She was always eager for more information, could be counted on to ask the tough questions that pushed everyone’s learning, and consistently exceeded expectations in assignments completed in local classroom contexts.”

While Mait loves the classroom and working with children with special needs, she believes she can make a greater contribution as a school counselor.

“I hope to work with teachers and administrators to better integrate social and emotional learning into everyday lessons within the classroom,” she said. “A lot of times teachers work with school counselors to better support their students’ needs, and there is a great deal of work to be done, especially after COVID-19. But it is really rewarding.”