GMercyU education alumna Jacqlyn Gallagher

Meet Jacqlyn Gallagher

Education, 2016

Current Position: Fifth Grade Teacher at Blue Bell Elementary School

As an Early Childhood and Special Education dual major at Gwynedd Mercy University, I was able to take advantage of the many opportunities I was afforded both within my field of study and within the circle of Mercy. 

While I was looking at schools, GMercyU stood out from the beginning because of their TAP experience, Hobbit House (an on-campus opportunity for field work), and their library space dedicated to the Education Department full of children’s books and curricular materials which we were able to use to complete coursework. So few other schools provided those opportunities, and ones that did certainly didn’t have all three while I was searching! 

My TAP experience, which begins in your first semester at GMercyU, was honestly one of the best ways to learn! We were thrown right into the classroom and were able to observe and work with a variety of grade levels, schools, and teachers! Having this experience really helped to prepare me for my student teaching, but also gave us an edge while job searching because of the connections we had made and the differentiated experiences that we could speak to.
My pre-student teaching experience was at Wordsworth Academy, now Fairworld Academy. I student-taught at Plymouth Elementary School in Colonial School District in both general education and special education.

Campus Experience

During my time at GMercyU, I traveled to Ireland for the International Young Mercy Leaders Conference held in Catherine McAuley’s home on Baggot Street, completed an Alternative Spring Break ministry of presence experience in Savannah, Georgia and traveled to New Mexico to take part in campus programming planning at the Campus Ministry Leadership Institute conference.  I was also a Mercy Advocate during my senior year.

These experiences have shaped and changed me forever by introducing and bonding me to the worldwide circle of Mercy which each GMercyU student is an integral part of, by allowing my worldview and experiences with others to shape my opinions and goals, and by allowing me to grow as a student and a leader.  

A little closer to home, on campus, I was a member of the Special Education Club and was President my sophomore and junior year. I collaborated with other students to further develop The Alex Valeno Exceptional Persons 5k Walk/Run into a professionally organized event, raising $14,000 in two years for organizations supporting the special needs population including Gwynedd Mercy University’s Autism Institute. During the 2014-2015 academic year, I was honored with the George O’Neill Memorial Scholarship presented by the CEC in Harrisburg and the Hannah Amgott Memorial Scholarship presented by DVEC.  

Because of the close relationships GMercyU fosters among students and professors, I was also provided the opportunity to volunteer at two Autism Institute Conferences, the Partners in Faith Formation of Children with ASD, IDD and other Disabilities Conference, the Council for Exceptional Children 2014 National Conference and the Griffin Student Leadership Institute Conference as an Exceptional Leader honoree. With guidance and recommendations from my professors, I was a student member in both the CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) and Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society for educators. 

I was honored to speak at Baccalaureate Mass and receive the Outstanding Leadership Award and the Outstanding Student Teacher Award at graduation. 

Post Graduation

I was sitting at graduation knowing I had an interview in a few days and was freaking out a little. I spent a ton of time applying for jobs after student-teaching ended and used a ton of advice from my professors and other professionals in the field while searching and applying.

However, I actually got the opportunity to meet one of Wissahickon’s school board members while I was speaking at the President’s Council during my senior year. She shared with me that the superintendent, who is now my superintendent, was also on the council and needed to leave, but left me his card. So, I took a chance and emailed him to let him know that I had applied and would be interviewing. The rest is history! I've been a fifth-grade teacher at Blue Bell Elementary School ever since.

GMercyU Difference

Honestly, GMercyU was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The professors are true professionals in their fields with an extensive knowledge base. They were helpful and caring, but also genuinely concerned for us both as students (future teachers) and as people. Moreover, they were well-connected and continued to be involved in the field which always helped to provide us with the most current information, “lingo,” research, and best practices. 

Our professors took the time to mold us not only into teachers, but also professionals by holding us to high standards, creating experiences for us to interact and learn from professionals, and providing us with opportunities to attend events, like educational conferences. Student organizations and clubs also coordinated with our professors to provide us with additional professional development opportunities and trainings that extended our learning beyond the classroom.

I truly credit GMercyU with preparing me to be the best teacher I could be and providing me with a toolbox of strategies for the large repertoire of skills it takes to be an effective teacher.