How A.W. Beattie prepared Savanna to be a 'step ahead' in college

Miss Cari and Savanna

Savanna Wilson still has an A.W. Beattie portfolio and professional resource file, each filling three-inch binders, which she completed four years ago.

She has also applied the lessons Early Childhood Education instructor Miss Cari Ludwig taught her.

The result, Savanna said Wednesday as a presenter in the ECE program, has been a smooth transition from high school through college at CCAC and Slippery Rock.

“About a month in at Beattie, I was doing my first lesson plan,” she said. “It was nerve-racking not having experience, but once I did it the first time I was so excited to do it again. It was really quick with how fast we got into doing hands-on things that you would experience in college and in this career.”

Savanna, a 2016 North Allegheny graduate, plans to work in education after she graduates in 2020 at Slippery Rock with bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education (Pre-K – 4) and Special Education (K-8).

She was inspired to return to her roots after recently realizing she was the lone student in a class of 50 at Slippery Rock to attend a career center during high school. Her professor asked for CTC alumni to raise their hands in a conversation about career and technical education.

“My hand just shot straight up, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m the only one,” Savanna said. “It didn’t bother me and I felt confident being the only person. I knew it worked for me, and I’m proud of the path I took. I know friends in college that wish they would have done the same thing at Beattie or at a (CTC) where they grew up.”

Savanna could have dropped the ECE class at the start of her sophomore year in high school – one of her best friends did less than 24 hours before what was supposed to be their first day at A.W. Beattie.

“I walked in not really knowing anyone,” Savanna said. “I had a few other friends in Cosmetology and Culinary Arts, but I was alone in ECE. I also felt comfortable with Miss Cari and at home with her, and the electives at my high school didn’t interest me enough. I wanted to work with kids as much as possible, and I ended up meeting two of my best friends.”

Attending A.W. Beattie was, in her view, one of the best decisions she made for her education. Attending CCAC and transferring credits to Slippery Rock was another.

“I learned about professionalism at Beattie, and I learned a lot of what I was going to experience in college,” Savanna said. “I knew what motor and gross motor was, and I knew all about developmental theorists. Everyone else that heard these lessons for the first time at 18, 19 and 20 years old, I had learned when I was 16, so I’ve always felt a step ahead of everybody.”

The lessons aren’t the only experience comparable between A.W. Beattie and college.

Savanna was applying lesson plans and developmental concepts with children in each year at the career center. She also experienced junior achievement student-teaching during high school at three local elementary schools.

“Miss Cari teaches us lessons that you don’t get to in college until you’re at least a junior,” Savanna said. “The big projects we do here are similar to what we do in college, the only difference being in college it expands a little bit to be more in-depth. I feel like Beattie and Miss Cari, specifically, laid the foundation for everything I need to know.”

Savanna was in National Technical Honors Society, Beattie Ambassadors and FCCLA, in which she placed third in a state competition for the Service Project category. She was also vice president and president of the student organization in her junior and senior years, respectively.

“Every program is great in the way that it prepares you to get professional certifications at the end of high school,” Savanna said. “I’d tell my kids to go to a school like Beattie and my kids’ kids. I’m happy I did it, because it helped me to get to where I am now and for where I’m going.”

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