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Catherine Liebenau

PDS Intern
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It all began in fourth grade. For both my fourth and fifth grade years I had a teacher named Ms. Eaton. To this day, she remains the reason I chose to go into teaching. By learning in her classroom I became more confident in my abilities as a writer, I discovered a passion for history, and I learned the importance of being tough. Ms. Eaton had high expectations for each of her students. She wanted us to be passionate about the environment, only turn in work that we spent a considerable amount of time on, and most importantly not complain. (A rule she penned “no whimpin, no whinin”.) Since elementary school, I have carried her lessons with me as I have worked with children in the classroom, religious school, and summer camp setting.

The PDS program attracted me, because I want my student teaching experience to be challenging. It is my goal to grow in my capacity to present material in both informative and engaging ways. Not only that, but to help children discover and follow their passions. A few summers back I was working at a camp that had children from third to tenth grade in attendance. The upper grade cabins frightened me, because most of my experience was working with elementary aged children at that point. My last session there I had ninth and tenth grade girls, at first I was terrified. It ended up being a really rewarding two weeks. My proudest moment working with these girls came when I led a body image activity that I had planned. We were able to reflect on the media’s portrayal of young girls, the fact that I had facilitated this open and honest discussion was a turning point for me. I realized that as a teacher, I would have this opportunity each day in my classroom. Teachers have an incredibly powerful role to help shape the future, a responsibility that I do not take lightly.

While I have many years of experience working with children, the populations I have helped out with mainly contain students coming from predominately middle class, white backgrounds. This is not a complete picture of what an American classroom looks like in most areas. PDS would bring me the opportunity to teach a more diverse student body. It is my believe that through student teaching at a PDS school I will be more prepared for instructing in my own classroom in the years to come.


10th among public universities for its master’s and doctoral programs
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#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
Assists public schools and other partners in all 105 Kansas counties
$938,377 in scholarship funds awarded to 420+ students
Research expenditures of $36,804,773 for 2011-12
Research from KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, assists educators, children, and families across the United States
The award-winning special education faculty published 140 refereed articles, 11 books, and 60 chapters in 2015-16
Students with intellectual disabilities are participating in KU undergraduate programs through a grant-funded KU special education program
Researchers on a $3.5 million grant are collecting data on an innovative reading program designed to teach reading to students with the most significant disabilities in seven Kansas school districts
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
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