This post is the first in a three-part series spotlighting some of the graduates of the Department of History and Political Science at Grace College who are now successful teachers in local public schools. All three completed the Social Studies Education program and graduated with state certification and the tools they needed to succeed. Josh Hanlon, a current history student who serves as our podcast guru, recently sat down with Nina Ferry, Jason Hyden, and Rogge Merriman and talked with them about how their time at Grace prepared them for their current careers as well as the difficult realities of navigating today’s tight job market. We have lots of wonderful graduates across the country who are working as educators and no doubt they could all share meaningful insights from their experiences. Nina, Jason, and Rogge, however, were easy targets since they teach locally!
Although all three came to Grace with a love of history, none are teaching social studies exclusively. This attests to a reality within the field of history and social studies—an increasingly competitive job market. Although much has been made of the bleak prospects of landing a “tenure track” job teaching history at a college or university, many college graduates, no matter their chosen field of study, face a daunting road as they seek employment. But Nina, Jason, and Rogge are examples of the fact that success in the job market is often possible if one is nimble enough to navigate the rough waters and flexible enough to apply one’s skills in a way that fits the open doors that are out there. Of course plenty of graduates of the Social Studies Education program at Grace do land jobs specifically in their chosen field (see an earlier post on Betsey Vastbinder, for example) but it’s good to know that studying subjects like history, social studies, and political science allow students to hone marketable skills that translate to a broad range of possibilities that reach beyond their chosen niche. Studies have shown, in fact, that skills gained through the liberal arts, which typically include substantial doses of history, are sought by employers in all sorts of fields—skills such as critical thinking, empathy, writing, communication, and cultural awareness. The experiences of Nina, Jason, and Rogge bear this out.
We begin with Josh’s interview with Nina Ferry, a recent graduate who combined her Social Studies Education major with Special Education as well as a major in history. Nina now teaches at Warsaw Community High School.