Goodnight Spotlight: Autumn Currin
Throughout her life, senior Autumn Currin ’22 has never wavered in her desire to become a STEM educator. However, attending NC State drastically changed the way Autumn looked at the education field, as she discovered “relating to children and having content knowledge is half the battle,” while being a strong advocate for students and their struggles is just as important. Read our latest Goodnight Scholars Spotlight to read more about what equity in education means to Autumn, her education philosophy, favorite memories from the Goodnight Scholars Program, and plans after gradation!
Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us about yourself!
Hi everyone! My name is Autumn Currin, and I am a senior majoring in Elementary Education with a concentration in STEM. I was born in Raleigh, but lived in Erwin (Harnett County) for the majority of my life. I am so excited to be going back there to teach in a second grade classroom upon graduating! I am the first in my family to go to college, which is a super exciting and rewarding experience. A few of my hobbies are reading, swimming, and running! I recently completed a half marathon through runDisney, so I would also add that traveling–or going to Disney–would be one of my hobbies, as well.
Why did you choose to pursue education? Was it a specific moment in your life when you had an epiphany, or really a combination of factors?
I have wanted to teach since I was little. I would play “school” when I got home from school each day, where I would be the teacher, and I would teach my Barbies and stuffed animals. I would sometimes even get my little sister involved! I had multiple teachers during my time in school that helped reaffirm my passion for education, but I also was happy to receive extra experiences with teaching during a peer tutoring program in high school. While I learned that I absolutely do want to be a teacher, I also learned that teaching high school students is not my strong suit. I loved teaching and sharing my passion and enthusiasm for learning new things, but I came to the conclusion that teaching a younger audience would best suit my personality. Upon coming to college, I learned that there is so much more to education than just relating to children and having content knowledge, although that is half the battle. As teachers, we have to advocate for our students. I learned through NC State that teaching is a political act, and advocating for ourselves and our students requires knowledge of systemic oppressors that can affect our children, and not allowing those factors to harm the success of a child. This helped ignite the fire that all students deserve an equitable education, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic background. This is ultimately what led to me becoming the president of NC State’s Student North Carolina Association of Educators (SNCAE) chapter.
What are your goals going into the field of education, and do you plan on staying in the local Raleigh area to pursue those goals?
A broad goal of mine is to continue to advocate for students, even if it seems to be difficult at times. I am not one for confrontation, but I have found approaching the topic of advocacy and equity easy, so I look forward to educating others in the community about what it means to be on the same team when it comes to a child’s success. Over the next few years of teaching, I will work on getting my National Board certification when I am able to! It takes a great amount of time, but the payoff will be worth it! I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity to be going back to my hometown of Erwin to teach second grade. The Goodnight Scholars Program’s major mantra is to “pay it forward,” so I look forward to being able to do that back in my hometown. I am so grateful for the learning I have done while in Raleigh, but I am so happy to go back to Erwin!
What does equity in education mean to you, and have you noticed components of the current education system through student teaching that you hope to change?
Prior to my time at NC State, I was from a small town that did not have many resources or opportunities, which is ultimately why I was so ecstatic to be coming to NC State, and being able to join the Goodnight Scholars program! Once I got to college and began going to classes, I realized that I did not receive the same opportunities that my classmates did while they were in high school, and as an aspiring educator, I realized that there are inequities that are present in many school settings, and I needed to do my part to change that. I learned in one of my classes in NC State that many schools are run through property taxes around the school, and if the majority of the community is underserved and underprivileged, then the school will therefore not receive up-to-date resources or opportunities. This is due to many systemic factors, and is, frankly, unfair. All students deserve equitable education regardless of their background. Of course, it is important to have equality (where everyone receives similar opportunities or resources), but in my opinion, having equity is most beneficial. Each child has specific needs when it comes to education, and they deserve to have those needs met. While I have been student teaching, I have noticed great inequities through the current education system. I think about what life was like when I was in elementary school, and what life currently is like in different parts of the state, and there are unfair circumstances in each scenario. For example, in my student teaching placement, students are provided with multiple opportunities for STEM enrichment throughout the week. I never received that when I was in elementary school, and in schools in other counties, they still don’t receive those opportunities, either. Here in the school in which I teach, my students have access to up-to-date technology and textbooks; however, in other counties, students do not receive that same privilege, and still use textbooks from the early nineties. While I am happy to have many resources now as a student teacher, I realize that there are many aspects that can absolutely change in the future, and I look forward to helping make that change.
Reflecting back on the last 4 years as a senior about to graduate, what will be most impactful to you when you look back on your time at NC State and in the Goodnight Scholars Program?
As someone in the class of 2022, I spent an extended amount of time attending college online through Zoom. During a time where it was easy to feel isolated, I never felt that way. My professors were always to receptive to questions and were so eager to help us feel included and build relationships with my classmates and me. The same goes for the Goodnight Scholars Program. Although I was going through a difficult time in terms of mental health, the Goodnight Scholars Program and my College of Education professors were my rock and helped me feel a sense of normalcy during a time that was anything but normal. I am so grateful for the lifelong friendships I have formed during my time here at NC State, and I am so excited for the future students who will attend NCSU and come to the Goodnight Scholars program!
What is one place on campus that a potential NC State student has to visit while touring campus?
It’s so difficult to just choose one place, but a potential NC State student should absolutely visit Talley Student Union. I loved going to Talley to complete assignments and to spend time with friends. This would be the best place to spend a few moments taking in the atmosphere; I feel this is the spot on campus that gives an accurate depiction of what life is like at NC State. There are many things going on in one place, such as student organization meetings, friends spending time with each other, and students completing homework.
What was your favorite part about being in the Goodnight Scholars Program? Any fun memories to share?
My favorite part about the Goodnight Scholars program is developing a loving community between classmates and the pro staff. I truly felt included and cared for during my time at NC State and through the Goodnight Scholars program, and being able to look back on my time with feelings of nostalgia and love is so wonderful. After the pandemic slowed a bit, the class of 2022 was able to go on their senior retreat to Savannah. That was the best time! I was able to reconnect with other scholars and I felt that we had an even deeper connection to each other than before. Many of us stayed up each night learning more about each other, and I am so thankful for those opportunities. It reminded me of the “Family Dinners” we would have each Wednesday night after our Goodnight Scholars class we had our freshman year!