Graduate School of Education

Friendship, Training and Patience Pay Off for MAT Grads

The wait is over for long-time friends Jake Pommier and Josh Thorp. 

The two 2010 MAT grads began their journey toward teaching together at a time when budget shortfalls cast a long shadow on future job possibilities.  Long time friends and members of the same program cohort, they grappled with coursework together, planned lessons collaboratively, and found themselves doing their spring student teaching at the same school in adjacent classrooms.

They have also spent the last two years supporting each other’s wait for a “real” teaching job.  Subbing and taking other part-time work has paid the bills.  In late August (just before the school year started), patience and the added experience gained in temporary teaching assignments finally paid off when both men landed full time teaching positions.  Both in the Salem-Keizer School District, Jake is teaching at Houck Middle School and Josh is at Straub Middle School.

“It’s been a rough road,” said Josh.  “At first, the full-time job offers I got would have led me to abandon teaching and my desire to work with youth. I just couldn’t take them.  My wife and three daughters were super-proud and supportive during the process. I knew others who graduated with me were getting jobs and doing amazing work with students, and that also kept me motivated.”

Jake also faced frustrations, and his own doubts.  “I thought about finding other work if I didn’t get a teaching job.  I was frustrated at first that not only was I not getting interviews, there were no jobs for me to even apply to,” he said. “For me, it’s always been about empowering kids with education. I knew nothing about teaching before starting the program at the GSE.  I had plenty of youth work experience, but no teaching. Willamette set me up for success every step of the way.” 

He added, “Josh and I bounce ideas off each other as peers all the time. It seems odd to say, but Josh, and Steve Daniels (MAT alum ‘05) are among the greatest influences on my teaching.  I try hard to emulate Steve’s classroom management, and how he runs his Language Arts classroom.”

Jake and Josh agree that, as hard as it was to wait for a full-fledged job offer, substitute teaching was perfect preparation for their own classrooms.  In Josh’s words, “having to think on your feet, adapting to other people’s lesson plans, and seeing how a variety of teachers organize their classrooms is incredibly valuable.”

So was the agonizing process of interviewing and being rejected worth it?  Yes! In time, both learned to relax, anticipate the questions and prepare their responses. 

“The key is to interview as much as you can,” said Josh.  “The more you do it, the better you get!”  He adds that it’s vital to remain genuine.  “The interviews I did best in were the ones where I showed them the most accurate representation of myself rather than trying to figure out what they wanted to hear.”

Jake agreed.  “I know for my new position, the principal was more interested in hiring me because I was the right kind of person.”

Was it worth the wait?  “Honestly, I loved grad school,” said Josh.  “It was a ton of hard work, but so worth it.  Teaching is the best job in the world.  I never doubted for a second that this was the right path for my life.”

November 2, 2012


Jake Pommier and Josh ThorpJake Pommier and Josh Thorp