We are reaching out to students who are utilizing the UW–Madison School of Education Wisconsin Teacher Pledge program to pursue their goal of becoming an educator. Following is a Q&A with Sierrena Taylor-Seals, who is pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, with secondary education teaching certification.
I was born in Seattle, Washington, but have lived the majority of my life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was first attracted to this school as a freshman in high school after we visited a couple of times, and by this time, I had decided I wanted a career in teaching. So, when I was told that UW–Madison had really good teacher education programs by a couple of my favorite teachers who had graduated from here, UW–Madison became one of my first choices.
What has been your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison?
The community I found and the relationships I’ve built with people have been the most meaningful experiences here.
What class or professor has had the greatest impact on you, and why?
I took a theatre class for fun my sophomore year, and I really enjoyed learning from that professor — Colleen Conroy. Just so I could continue learning with Professor Conroy, I enrolled in another class that I learned she was teaching. I took her theatre courses every semester for two years, not only because I find joy in acting and theatre, but also because my professor had us doing exercises and coursework that made me learn more about myself than I felt like I had ever before.
"I am ready to do the work that is long overdue to address the harm inflicted on students of color in our classrooms over so many years." — Sierrena Taylor-Seals
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I decided that I would become a teacher around the same time that I became explicitly aware that racism festered all over this country and that anti-Blackness was alive and well in our classrooms, which, up until this realization during my freshman year, had always been posed as separate from the “outside world.” Then I began learning about the disparities in educational experiences between students of color and white students. And, as I continued to investigate this, I was left with a lot of questions and with a very strong urge to put myself where I recognized the work that I wanted to do would matter most — in the classrooms.
How is the Teacher Pledge making it easier for you to pursue your goal of becoming a teacher?
The Teacher Pledge has made it easier for me to commit myself to this training and work that I am really passionate about! I was so happy to hear that it was an option for us.
How do you hope to make a difference as an educator in Wisconsin?
I want to empower my students that I will have here (in Wisconsin). I am ready to do the work that is long overdue to address the harm inflicted on students of color in our classrooms over so many years.
What are your future plans?
I plan on going back to Milwaukee to teach in a middle school or high school.