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Amanda Malone shares a book with children

Inspiring a Love of Learning and Educating

When Amanda Malone was a senior at Chatham (Mass.) High School, she took a course that allowed her to be an assistant teacher in a first-grade class. Leaving the school each day and seeing the students waving goodbye through the windows was, she said, “one of those crucial points in my life,” because it reinforced what she already knew.

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid,” Malone said, and added, “It was a great way to see how much of an impact I can have on these kids. I love this. It’s what I want to do.”

And she said she is always willing to talk about her experiences with other would-be educators.

“It’s important to find others who are also passionate about education,” said Malone, who is an integrated studies major with a concentration in elementary education. “It is important to inspire each other, to find our strengths.”

For Sara Montiel, who teaches the freshman transition course UNIV 100 Introduction to Mason, and has Malone as a peer advisor, Malone’s strength is that she views teaching as “a craft rather than a job or an occupation.” “She’s always trying to make it better,” Montiel said. “She’s always asking me for feedback. That will make her stand out.”

Much like she did for a week in June 2014 in Panama, where she instructed orphaned girls, ages 4-18, in dance. Malone grew up studying dance and heads Mason DanceWorks, which gives students the chance to perform in off- and on-campus events. She also organizes summer dance camps back home.

“There can be so many barriers with people,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t make relationships that can really change someone’s life.”

Amanda Malone, Mason senior

At the Malambo orphanage in Panama City, where Malone traveled with a nonprofit called Movement Exchange, her passions for teaching and dance came together. “When I worked with those girls, I could really see that light spark in their eyes,” she said. When she returned, she started a Movement Exchange chapter at Mason.

Working conditions were difficult in Panama. The girls came from challenging backgrounds. Some had behavioral issues. A translator was available, but there still was a language barrier. “But Amanda has an amazing natural ability with children,” Movement Exchange founder Anna Pasternak said. “She just stepped in and took control and won those kids over.”

The highlight, Malone said, was when a 10-year-old whose legs had been amputated above her knees insisted on dancing out of her wheelchair. “So we got her knee pads and she did her whole dance in what she had left of her legs,” Malone said. “It was the most amazing thing.”