A Modern Polymath

Social studies teacher. Political consultant. Honorary deputy sheriff…These are just a few of the caps that Joshua Clark, M.Ed. ’19 wears on a daily basis.

“I can’t just go home at 2:15 p.m. and then do nothing,” says Joshua, who is entering his fifth year as a teacher at Chicopee Comprehensive High School this fall. “There’s always something to do, whether it’s staying until 6:00 p.m. to grade, going to Elms to take a class, or reading a book on education pedagogy.”

While Joshua focused on educational pedagogy at Elms, he also furthered his knowledge of American history. He is currently completing his master’s degree in history at University of Massachusetts – Boston, which he says might pave the way for returning to Elms one day as an adjunct professor.

Joshua completed his master of education (M.Ed.) degree at Elms in 2019, specializing in secondary education. He chose Elms for its strong connection to Chicopee Public Schools. One of the benefits of working alongside Elms alumni, he said, is that everyone is on the same page when it comes to teaching theory and best practices.

“It’s a benefit to us as a school district,” he said. “It’s an easy two-way relationship.”

“Any teacher will tell you that their job is more than just teaching content. You’re teaching life skills, how to exist in the world.”

In addition to being an expert on U.S. history, Joshua is a seasoned political consultant, having served on several local campaigns in western Massachusetts since 2013. His experience with the democratic process comes in handy, he said, not only when he’s teaching but when he advises students interested in political science. 

“I know all sorts of people who are involved in the elected official realm,” he said. “Those relationships are helpful if students are looking for internships or different perspectives.”

Case in point: when one of his students approached him and indicated interest in clinical psychology, Joshua made a call to Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi—also an Elms alumnus—to see if a job shadow day could be arranged at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department. It’s those connections that make all the difference, Joshua said.

“Any teacher will tell you that their job is more than just teaching content,” he added. “You’re teaching life skills, how to exist in the world.”

Elms Alumni Network

In fall 2020, Joshua will begin his fifth year of teaching at CCHS. But, it’s actually his thirteenth year of affiliation with the high school—he himself graduated from CCHS in 2011. Teaching at his alma mater gives him a tangible sense of pride, he said, and motivates him that much more to recreate the experience he had as a student for future generations.

Joshua celebrating at the 2019 Commencement ceremony.

Completing his teaching practicum hours at CCHS was the perfect opportunity to hone his skills, Joshua said. But he also quickly noticed something else at work in the school, too: a constant feedback loop of support among CCHS faculty, especially those who attended Elms.

“It’s a camaraderie thing,” he explained. “People who have been to Elms help guide you, whether it’s sharing books or clarifying expectations of professors. You look out for each other.”

A Perfect Fit

Graduate students have a unique relationship with the college or university they attend. Many of them work full time and constantly juggle different priorities to fit their classes into their schedule. In Joshua’s case, the Elms campus itself was a haven of sorts, a place where he could conveniently check his email in the library or grab a bite to eat in the college center on the way to his evening classes.

“Everything works for the student who is living on campus and the person who has a full time job,” he said. “The program fits in with your routine. You don’t feel like you have to do anything extra.”

He recommends the M.Ed. program to any teacher beginning their career in education, especially if they value classes that focus on current trends in education.

“For me, it was a perfect fit,” he said. “I think it was a great decision to earn my degree at Elms.”