Bossom combines love of travel, teaching

Leah Bossom ’17 found her career path at Cornell College while teaching and participating in Alternative Spring Breaks abroad. She will be teaching 4th grade at Escuela Americana de San Salvador in El Salvador, Central America, for the next two years.

Leah Bossom '17
Leah Bossom ’17

Bossom gained teaching experience at Weber Elementary in Iowa City, and was also selected as a Cornell Fellow with the opportunity to student teach in Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia.

“I learned a lot from both these opportunities about teaching, got to apply the things I learned in my methods courses directly to my classrooms, and felt very confident in both placements,” Bossom said. “My student teaching was such an intense but rewarding experience that I am just ready to finally have my own classroom.”

Bossom, who is from Waukon, Iowa, credits the block plan with enabling her to build close relationships with both faculty and staff, a large number of whom served as mentors for her.

“From Mike Johnson and Katie Wilson in the Civic Engagement Office to Jill Heinrich, my advisor, to Rebecca Sullens and Jason Napoli in the Berry Career Institute, to my elementary education professors Kerry Bostwick and Meg Jacobs, I really don’t think it’d be fair to choose just one person who had the most impact,” said Bossom. “I’m not even mentioning the Admissions staff or the people at Bon Appétit who have fed me the past four years!”

Q: How did One Course At A Time impact your education?
A: One Course At A Time was a very important factor in my college decision. It is a different way to learn, but it really helped me. In high school I was taking a lot of classes and involved in many different things, and when it finally came time to do homework I was prioritizing certain classes over the others and sometimes not even getting to my “less important” homework. Here, I didn’t have to do that and I learned way more and learned in a way that stuck with me.

Q: What do you most value about your Cornell education?
A: The encouragement of lifelong learning and critical thinking through the liberal arts program will stick with me forever. As an educator, those skills are invaluable to me, and I find that I don’t back away from challenges as easily as I used to because I know how to think deeply.

Q: What would you tell a prospective about Cornell?
A: I tell them all the time that I absolutely love Cornell. I don’t think I could have imagined myself anywhere else, and if I did go anywhere else I’m not entirely sure I would have gotten the vast amount of opportunities and recognition for my hard work that I have at Cornell.

One Course At A Time was a fantastic way for me to learn and to focus on readings and assignments to actually get something out of them rather than just skimming and getting by, especially in classes I didn’t feel as interested in.

Q: Did you participate in Alternative Spring Break (ASB) or other meaningful service?
A: Alternative Breaks was a huge part of my Cornell experience. When I was a first year my PA (Peer Advocate) encouraged me to go on ASB to Atlanta and I loved it so much I decided to apply for a job in the Civic Engagement Office. I ended up becoming co-coordinator for the whole Alternative Breaks program for two years. It was so much work, but such rewarding work that taught me so much about the importance of service and staying educated. I was fortunate enough to help plan and lead our second international Alternative Winter Break trip to Belize to work with a school I had worked in during a Comparative Education class. I also got to go back to Atlanta all four spring breaks during my time at Cornell to work with the same program—Create Your Dreams—and form a connection with that service site to continue building relationships at that school.

Q: What have been your most meaningful experiences beyond the classroom?
A: I was afforded a truly extraordinary opportunity when I was accepted as a Cornell Fellow to complete my student teaching in Australia. Of course, I learned so much about being a teacher and teaching abroad, but it was the many lessons I learned outside of that that have helped me become a more confident, kind, and travel-savvy person. I also learned to check to see if the hostel you stay in has an oven before buying a frozen pizza for dinner.

Q: Did you study abroad?
A: Yes, twice! (Three times if you count my Alternative Winter Break (AWB) trip to Belize I took after having a class there!) The first time I have ever been out of the country (aside from right over the Minnesota border in Canada) was my sophomore year for a Comparative Education class in San Pedro, Belize. We got to work in a few different schools and had so many opportunities to learn and reflect on our own education system. The next year I was fortunate enough to lead an AWB trip to the same school I worked in for that class—seeing the teachers and students again was so much fun and we had great feedback from the community. Then as a senior I completed my student teaching in Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia, which was an incredible experience. All of these international experiences in different countries really helped me decide to accept a 4th grade teaching position in San Salvador, El Salvador.