GMercyU Education alum Elise Nonnenman

Meet Elise Nonnenman

Education, 2017

Current Position: Early Childhood Special Education Teacher at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit

Story Last Updated: September 2017
Current Position Updated: March 2019

GMercyU felt like home pretty much immediately when I attended an Open House during my senior year of high school. I visited many different colleges, but none gave me a comparable sense of community and comfort. Leaving home was scary, so I needed a place where I could find a new home and GMercyU struck me as that place right away.

GMercyU's School of Business and Education was also a big deciding factor for me. The program is very unique in that you become both general education and special education certified within a typical 4-year program, which was difficult for me to find anywhere else. My experience in GMercyU’s Education program was undoubtedly what I believe got me a job straight out of school. The Education professors held myself and my classmates to the highest standard. Discussions held in class were integral in taking and passing both my early childhood and special education teacher certification tests on the first try. The TAP program gave me experiences I was able to draw from in my job interview that helped get me the job.

In the beginning, I started off a bit timid. I first joined the Special Education Club because I knew I loved Special Ed so it felt like a comfortable place to start. There, I met people who saw potential in me and nominated me for a position on Student Government. Being a part of SGA, I was able to meet a whole new network of people, which motivated and prompted me to continue to say yes to new experiences, like Alternative Spring Break - which ended up changing my life but maybe that's for another story!

First and foremost, being a part of many different clubs provided me with a seemingly never-ending support system. I met so many different people and made so many different connections that I have carried with me and are still huge parts of my life. Perfect example - my SGA Vice President saw lots of potential in me at a time where I didn't see it in myself.

She called me her "lotus flower.” I wore a lotus flower necklace all through student teaching, graduation, my interview where I got the job, and I still wear it every day I walk into my classroom. Special Education gets tough but it reminds me to see the beauty in everyday and to have faith in myself like she had faith in me, and it's rooted in my time at GMercyU.

Clubs also taught me a level of professionalism and accountability that has carried me throughout my career in many ways thus far. It gave me a sense of responsibility to something other than myself. There are so many opportunities to immerse yourself in the service of others, which shaped me into the teacher that I am today.

I currently teach Early Childhood Special Education with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit in Fort Washington, Pa.. My classroom houses students with various developmental delays, including Autism, Down Syndrome, speech and language, behavioral, and physical delays. My classroom is rooted in kindness, compassion, and love for one another - something I believe transcends all abilities and disabilities. I hold my children, despite their personal obstacles, to the highest standard as my professors held me. I see their potential when others can't, like so many saw potential in me. They are my little lotus flowers. I plan to continue my career in special education and behavior.