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For Mason Senior, Teaching Is About "Relationships That Can Really Change Someone’s Life"

October 20, 2015

Amanda Malone

When Amanda Malone was a senior at Chatham (Mass.) High School, she took a course that allowed her to be an assistant teacher in a first-grade class. Leaving the school each day and seeing the students waving goodbye through the windows was, she said, “one of those crucial points in my life,” because it reinforced what she already knew.

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid,” Malone said, and added, “It was a great way to see how much of an impact I can have on these kids. I love this. It’s what I want to do.”

Malone said she is always willing to talk about her experiences with other would-be educators. She does so as a peer advisor in the freshman transition course UNIV 100 Introduction to Mason and as part of the Think You Want to Be a Teacher? advising event held on campus each semester.

“It’s important to find others who are also passionate about education,” she said. “It is important to inspire each other, to find our strengths.” Malone is enrolled in Mason's accelerated program for undergraduates who want to earn a bachelor's degree, master's degree, and teaching license in as little as five years. (See for information). She will earn a degree in elementary education.

For Sara Montiel, an advisor in the university’s College of Education and Human Development, Malone’s strength is that she views teaching as “a craft rather than a job or an occupation.”

“She’s always trying to make it better,” Montiel said. “She’s always asking me for feedback. That will make her stand out.”

Much like she did for a week in June 2014 in Panama, where she instructed orphaned girls, ages 4-18, in dance. Malone grew up studying dance and heads Mason DanceWorks, which gives students the chance to perform in off- and on-campus events. She also organizes summer dance camps back home.


Young children enjoy reading time with Amanda Malone (right). The senior at George Mason University is enrolled in the five-year accelerated bachelor's/master's degree program in elementary education, offered through the College of Education and Human Development. Photos by Evan Cantwell.


At the Malambo orphanage in Panama City, where Malone traveled with a San Francisco-based nonprofit called Movement Exchange, her passions for teaching and dance came together.

“When I worked with those girls, I could really see that light spark in their eyes,” she said. When she returned, she started a Movement Exchange chapter at Mason.

Working conditions were difficult in Panama. The girls came from challenging backgrounds. Some had behavioral issues. A translator was available, but there still was a language barrier.

“But Amanda has an amazing natural ability with children,” Movement Exchange founder Anna Pasternak said. “She just stepped in and took control and won those kids over.”

The highlight, Malone said, was when a 10-year-old whose legs had been amputated above her knees insisted on dancing out of her wheelchair.

“So we got her knee pads and she did her whole dance in what she had left of her legs,” Malone said. “It was the most amazing thing.”

“There can be so many barriers with people,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t make relationships that can really change someone’s life.”

The perfect attitude for a future teacher.


This article was written by Damian Cristodero and originally appeared on Mason News.


About CEHD

George Mason University's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) includes two schools: the Graduate School of Education, one of the most comprehensive education schools in Virginia, and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism. CEHD offers a full range of courses, certificates, and degree programs on campus, online, and on site to more than 4,000 students each year. CEHD is fully accredited by NCATE, and all licensure programs are approved by the Virginia Department of Education. George Mason University, located just outside of Washington, DC, is Virginia's largest public research university.

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