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Elizabeth Bittings Seay ’14, M.S. ’24

Elizabeth Bittings Seay ’14, M.S. ’24 had always dreamed of teaching at the early childhood level, and through her dedication to the field and support from McDaniel College mentors, peers, and teachers, her dream became reality. Seay has taught first grade and kindergarten classes in Carroll County Public Schools since earning her degree, and has mentored countless McDaniel students who join her classroom to student teach for the very first time.

Elizabeth Bittings Seay poses for a picture in front of a door in a classroom

“Growing up, I always looked up to my teachers,” says Elizabeth Bittings Seay ’14, M.S. ’24. “When I went through some rough things in my family life, my teachers were the ones that were there for me, and that played a huge role in why I went into teaching.”

A Carroll County kindergarten teacher, Seay has been an educator for a decade now. But her journey in early childhood education began farther back.

“I’ve been teaching in a classroom for many, many, many years,” Seay says. Since 2007, she estimates — her sophomore year of high school.

Curious about teaching, she had joined her high school’s child development program, which introduced teaching methods and allowed students to gain classroom experience. After her first time student teaching in 10th grade — alongside her own former kindergarten teacher — there was no question that it was right for her.

“That first lesson I ever taught, I realized, ‘Yep, this is what I want to do.’”

Her early start meant Seay arrived on the Hill with certificates in childcare and education. “I knew it was what I wanted to do coming into McDaniel,” she says.

At the time, McDaniel wasn’t yet offering Elementary or Early Childhood Education majors, as it does today. So, she chose Sociology and pursued a minor in Elementary Education to gain the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in teaching.

“I really love how McDaniel puts you in the classroom early on and lets you apply the skills you’re learning."

Elizabeth Seay

At a lot of colleges, you don’t go into the classroom until your senior year,” she says, even though it can be the deciding factor for many students hoping to become teachers.

One of her favorite instructors was Professor Sharon Craig M.S. ’91, who taught reading assessment and instruction. “She taught us everything we needed to know about reading. She was just so valuable.”

Seay interned in Carroll County and Baltimore County schools, completing her student teaching in just half a year, with mentorship from Kelly Martin M.S. ’99 at Cranberry Station Elementary School — who she is still connected with today — and her student teaching liaison, Professor Emerita Jan Ober M.Ed. ’73, who was “the kind of person who really pushed me but gave kudos and support when it was needed,” and who even helped her job search.

After Seay’s McDaniel experience, it’s no wonder that all three of her sisters attended McDaniel, too. Julieanne Bittings ’22 followed in her footsteps as an Elementary Education major, and Corieanne Bittings ’22 did the same as a Sociology major, while Kimberly Bittings Lowman ’17, M.S. ’19 was a Psychology major and M.S. in Counseling graduate.

“My passion has always been early childhood,” Seay says, so upon graduation, she took the Praxis exams to become certified in both elementary and early childhood education.

She quickly transitioned to a full-time first grade teacher at Parr’s Ridge Elementary School in Mount Airy, Maryland — the only early childhood school in the county, offering just pre-K through 2nd grade.

After six years teaching first grade, she transitioned grades to achieve her dream of becoming a kindergarten teacher.

“Changing grades is a great way to stay current,” Seay says. “You get a lot of experience teaching different grade levels, and I’m very thankful I taught first grade before coming to kindergarten. I always wanted to teach kindergarten, but now I know what these kids need to do at the next grade level.”

Like her teachers growing up, Seay’s love for the profession “comes from wanting to help others,” and her students serve as a constant reminder. “Seeing their little aha moments and lightbulbs, that’s where my passion comes from,” she says.

She witnesses many aha moments with her kindergarteners, especially when they’re learning to use laptops in the classroom. “The first time they have them, they’re like, ‘What is this thing?’ It takes a few months to teach them to log on, but by the spring, they’re very independent and know how to problem solve,” she says.

Technology might mean that teaching looks a little different today than it did 10 years ago, but Seay says that no day of teaching has ever been exactly like the last. “I embrace how it changes minute to minute. I have 19 kids this year and they’re all unique. Over the years, every child has been different.”

And Seay is always looking for ways to explore new avenues in her career, too. A decade after graduating from McDaniel with her bachelor’s degree, she returned to her alma mater to earn a master’s degree in Innovations in Teaching and Learning.

The McDaniel graduate program advanced her knowledge of teaching and allowed her to immediately apply it in her own classroom.

“My capstone is about developmentally appropriate writing, so I created a unit plan that I’m using with my students,” she says. “I’ve definitely learned a lot in the program about the brain and how to incorporate more techniques into my teaching repertoire.”

Embracing the lessons in Innovations in Teaching and Learning was especially easy through the program’s online format. “I have three boys at home, so the online program is definitely beneficial to us working moms,” she says.

Seay also frequently supports the next generation of teachers by mentoring McDaniel Education students who complete their student teaching in her classroom. “I owe a lot to McDaniel. I love giving back after how much McDaniel helped me,” she says.

“It’s important to me to help new teachers. I remember that feeling of being scared the first time in a classroom! If I can help someone become a teacher, then it’ll help more kids one day,” she says.

About Elizabeth

Career: Kindergarten Teacher

Class: 2014, M.S. 2024

Major: Sociology

Minor: Elementary Education

Graduate Program: Innovations in Teaching and Learning