HawkStrong: Aspiring teacher delves into the elementary school experience

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Rana Zeineddine and friend posing and smiling for a picture with school decor in the background.

Becoming a mother inspired Rana Zeineddine to become a teacher.

“When my children were born, I experienced a profound sense of joy and wonder,” said Zeineddine. “As they grew, I was amazed by their curiosity and eagerness to learn. Watching them explore their world and develop new skills was a truly rewarding experience. As they started going to school, I became more involved in their education.”

Zeineddine volunteered at their schools, helped them with their homework, and attended parent-teacher conferences. Through this process, Zeineddine gained a deeper appreciation and respect for the role of teachers in shaping young minds.

“I began to consider a career in teaching,” she said. “I was drawn to the idea of helping children develop their potential and achieve their goals. Being around children every day and watching them learn and grow is a constant source of inspiration and joy for me. I love working with young children, and my aspiration is to become a first-grade teacher.”

HFC provided a warm and welcoming atmosphere

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Zeineddine is the third of four children. She lives in Dearborn with her husband and their three children, ages 10, 7, and 6. A graduate of Fordson High School, Zeineddine will graduate from HFC this spring, earning her associate degree in liberal arts. Upon graduation, she plans to transfer to Wayne State University, where she will continue her education.

Zeineddine first came to HFC (then Henry Ford Community College) in 2009. She found the atmosphere to be quite impressive.

“It was always warm and welcoming, which made it easy for me to adjust and fit in here,” she recalled. “The low tuition was another major advantage of attending the College, especially when compared to other colleges in the area. I was able to save a lot of money on tuition, which allowed me to focus on other important things, such as buying textbooks and materials needed for my classes. Plus, the College is just a short distance from my house.”

One instructor at HFC who has become a mentor to Zeineddine is Pre-Education Program Director Dr. Carolyn Casale.

“Rana is a thoughtful and reflective teacher practitioner,” said Casale. “She cares deeply about her teaching strategies and asks difficult questions. She has a passion and dedication for working with children.”

Putting in twice the amount of required field time

Casale taught Zeineddine in four of her classes.

“Dr. Casale’s teaching style was engaging and insightful, and she always made herself available to help her students,” said Zeineddine. “Not only did she provide us with valuable knowledge and resources, she also encouraged us to think critically and express our own ideas. Thanks to her guidance and support, I was able to excel in my studies and gain a deeper understanding of the subjects I was studying.”

In Casale’s Introduction to Education with Field Experience class, students are required to put in 40 service hours in a classroom setting. Zeineddine’s served more than 100 hours in the first-grade classroom of Mariam Albachachy at William Ford Elementary School in Dearborn. She spoke about what made her spend so much extra time in the field.

“The people I worked with made me feel comfortable and happy,” explained Zeineddine. “Their encouragement inspired me to put in extra hours. The teacher I shadowed was incredible, and the school's administration made me feel like I was part of their team. Ms. Albachachy treated me as an equal and allowed me to take on responsibilities that made me feel like I was truly contributing to the classroom.”

A typical day would begin with bell work, which involved helping the students prepare for the day by putting their folders and notebooks in their baskets. The idea behind bell work is to allow the students to get focused, review materials, and introduce something new. Zeineddine walked around the classroom, checking to see if anyone needed help, and provided additional explanations to those who struggled with the material. Sometimes, she even graded their bell work with them to give them feedback. After the bell work, they would move on to either benchmark work (a daily lesson consisting of writing and reading comprehension) and math lessons. She worked with some students on sounding out letters and words. Zeineddine helped Albachachy by preparing materials that could be used in class.

“During the small group sessions, I stood by the teacher and observed what she was doing,” recalled Zeineddine. “I noted how she was engaging each student and how she made sure that each of them understood the material. Ms. Albachachy was very patient and took the time to explain to me how her teaching benefited the students and why it was important to do things a certain way. I learned so much from her, and I am grateful for her willingness to share her knowledge and expertise with me. She was an excellent teacher and mentor.”

“They made me feel welcomed and valued”

Zeineddine described her experience as “unforgettable,” praising Albachachy and the school administration.

“They were very kind, helpful, and supportive throughout my semester,” she said. “They made me feel welcomed and valued, which made a huge difference in my experience. The students also had a significant impact on my visit. I spent a lot of time listening to their stories and learning about their experiences, and I was blown away by their intelligence, creativity, and passion! They were so friendly and welcoming; I felt like I was part of the community, even though I was only there for a short time. I am grateful for the opportunity to have visited this school and for all the wonderful people I met there. It was an experience that I will always cherish.”

Zeineddine would like to return to William Ford to complete her student-teaching.

“I am willing to put in my best effort to achieve it,” she said. “I believe this school can offer me a unique and enriching experience that will help me grow both personally and professionally. I am eager to contribute to the school and make a positive impact on the educational community.”

Working toward becoming a teacher and a principal

“HFC prepared me well, especially after last semester under Dr. Casale's guidance," said Zeineddine. I learned so much that I can apply in my career,” she said. "Thanks to the excellent education I received at HFC, I feel well-equipped to tackle challenges in my academic and professional life. The quality of education, combined with the supportive faculty and staff, has helped me develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and a strong work ethic.”

Zeineddine also aspires to one day become a principal.

“Planning for your future and setting goals is crucial for success. Having a clear plan for your future and setting achievable goals is key to personal and professional success. It gives you direction and motivation to keep moving forward,” she said. “I have a strong desire to work as an elementary school principal. This role would allow me to make a positive impact on the education system and help shape the minds of young students. This goal requires a lot of hard work and dedication, and I am ready for that. I believe that with the right mindset, skills, and experience, I can achieve my dream.”

Albachachy appreciated Zeineddine's dedication.

“Outside of the class requirements, Rana attended special events, volunteered her time to prepare for classroom and holiday activities, and helped purchase supplies. She has gone far above and beyond this semester,” she said. “Rana engages in student learning, helps students who are struggling as they work independently, asks questions, and reflects on her daily experiences. Suffice it to say, Rana has completely immersed herself in William Ford. Although as a classroom family we are excited for Rana and her next educational opportunity, we are saddened to see her leave. I expect great things from Rana as a teacher in the future.”