Sarah Sell ’13 knew she wanted to be a teacher before she was finished with fifth grade, and has never questioned it for a moment since.
“I loved my fifth-grade teacher – she was wonderful,” Sell said of what she called a pivotal year in her own development. “For me, there was never a doubt about what I wanted to do after that.”
A decade later, the Elementary Education with Integrated Math and Science major is nearly there. And even when she steps to the front of the classroom at Fisher Middle School in Ewing this fall for the first time as a professional, Sell won’t lack experience in the field. In fact, one of the reasons the Hillsborough, N.J., native chose Rider was the freedom to begin student-teaching as a sophomore.
“I wanted the maximum field experience, and not to wait until I was a senior to be in front of a classroom,” she explained.
Sell, who is also a Mathematics minor, knew that she wanted to obtain her middle school math certification, but not simply by taking one course that would prepare her to pass the Praxis exam. She wanted to earn a true understanding.
“The whole culture, the psychology of the School of Education, encourages you to explore and truly learn,” she explained. “I knew this was meant to be.”
Sell is a legacy, of sorts, at Rider. Her father, Noel Sell ’78, and mother, Valerie Schultz Sell ’78, are graduates of Westminster Choir College of Rider University. And while the younger Sell does not possess her parents’ knack for music, she did inherit their passion for teaching, as both have enjoyed long careers in music education.
Sell’s alumni connection doesn’t end at her parents’ doorstep, either. Her new principal at Fisher Middle School is Rider graduate Barbara Brower ’99, who happens to be the daughter of Walter A. Brower ’48, dean emeritus of Rider’s School of Education.
“In interviewed with her, and she was fantastic,” said Sell, eager to begin her job.
Sell balanced her student-teaching with her own classwork, while serving as president of the New Jersey Student Education Association, and as co-president of Rider’s chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education. She cites Dr. Sharon Sherman, the dean of the School of Education, as a role model for her own ambitions.
“We both came to Rider at the same time, and I knew her right from the outset,” Sell said of Sherman, who has served in her role since 2009. “The first week of school, I told her, ‘We’re in this together.’ She’s been my mentor, and I’ve had the best experiences here.”