Two Westminster High alumnae begin their teaching careers in opposite districts

Aubrey Karoglan and Carlyn Wiedecker had very different ideas about what the future had in store for them.

Both women grew up in the small American city of Westminster and are alumnae of Westminster High School, graduating six years apart; Karoglan in 2003 and Wiedecker in 2009.


Karoglan took some time off after graduating, taking courses at Carroll Community College sporadically. She was unsure about what she wanted to do.

Wiedecker left for the University of Maryland, College Park, immediately after graduation, embarking on a foreign-language-based program with goals to be a government translator.


But through a found mutual love of education, the pair will be dedicating the next two years of their lives as educators to students in high-need areas.

Karoglan and Wiedecker will be two of about 11,000 first- and second-year teachers participating in this year's crop through Teach for America, a national teacher corps of college grads and professionals who commit to teaching in high-need public schools around the country for two years.

A complete 180

Karoglan, 28, who currently resides with her husband in Philadelphia, had few ideas on her life path after high school. She took some courses at Carroll and eventually left for a time and started working at a deli.

"When I took a break from community college I was just kind of floating around life without a paycheck really," Karoglan said. "I went back to college after not having gone to school in a while and I felt so removed from college."

Four years later, Karoglan received her associate degree and headed on to York College in Pennsylvania, studying secondary education and history with a concentration in social studies. She eventually finished her bachelor's degree this May at Temple University in Pennsylvania.

"College opened my eyes to the world that I hadn't thought about for a while and I thought that I wanted to do that for students," Karoglan said. "I thought I wanted to do something with a purpose and [a career in] education was that thing for me."

Karoglan then decided to apply for Teach for America.

Language-lover to teacher

Wiedecker was a student-athlete at Westminster High. She played field hockey, ran indoor track and participated on the swim team at the local YMCA. She also developed a love for language and was a member of the Spanish and American Sign Language Club.

In college, Wiedecker majored in Persian studies with a triple minor in Spanish, linguistics and English for speakers of other languages with the dreams to be a translator.

"I had a family friend, who worked for the government, tell me that languages like Persian, Arabic or Chinese were in need for translating jobs," Wiedecker said. "My goal for a career I was set on when I started college was that I wanted to help people. But I realized translating jobs was mostly translating files and audio clips."


Before graduation, Wiedecker applied for the 2013 corps for Teach for America, but was wait-listed a year. During the next year she took an internship at Disney World and then got full acceptance into Teach for America in early January.

Urban vs. rural

Karoglan, who runs a contracting business with her husband in the City of Brotherly Love, was placed into the urbanized Greater Philadelphia area for TFA. Wiedecker will be headed more than 400 miles south to eastern North Carolina, a more rural school district.

Philadelphia is one of the largest school districts in the country, said Isha Lee, managing director of regional communications for TFA. She said far too many students in the Greater Philadelphia area are facing the challenges of poverty and it causes an added stress to their education.

Over the years, Karoglan has become an advocate for educational equality.

"I was afforded so much, and I did not take advantage of it," Karoglan said. "I just want to hold my students to the same high expectations that I was held to and help them progress in their learning as quickly as possible."

Karoglan will be teaching seventh- to 12th-grade social studies at a school in the Greater Philadelphia area.

According to Becky O'Neil, TFA communications director for eastern North Carolina, there are teacher shortages in rural districts, which makes quality education a challenge.

Eastern North Carolina is one of first regions in which TFA placed teachers 25 years ago. In the area, O'Neil said school districts typically run on long-term substitute teachers or consolidated class sizes.

Wiedecker said she hopes to help her students widen their scope. She will be teaching first or second grade in eastern North Carolina.

"After living in College Park and Prince George's County being so close to [Washington,] D.C., I am sure these little ones haven't really had much experience like that in their lives," Wiedecker said. "I hope to bring a wider world view and introduce them to things they have never thought or heard about."

Reach staff writer Krishana Davis at 410-857-7862 or krishana.davis@carrollcountytimes.com.

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