January 31, 2022

Shawnee State University’s Adolescent to Young Adult (AYA) program provides students in teacher education with licensure to teach grades 7 through 12. The program includes degrees in English, Social Studies, Science and Math.

Samantha McLaughlin and Dr. Gay Lynn Shipley
SSU Teacher Education major Samantha McLaughlin (left) found her passion teaching students in grades 7-12 through the Adolescent to Young Adult program. She has received guidance from Interim Assistant Dean and Director of SSU’s School of Education, Dr. Gay Lynn Shipley (right).

“The AYA program has opened doors in education for our students in very rewarding ways,” said Dr. Gay Lynn Shipley, Interim Assistant Dean and Director of the School of Education at SSU. “This sometimes happens even when they did not expect it, while teaching the AYA age group.”

Current SSU student Samantha McLaughlin came into the education field after transferring from another university where she received a bachelor’s degree in Art History, English, and Latin. Her previous institution did not offer a teaching licensure program like the one she found at SSU. Always interested in being a teacher, McLaughlin first started her career in marketing, but soon after the COVID-19 pandemic began, decided to pursue her lifelong teaching dream by enrolling in the AYA program.

“It has been the best decision that I have ever made,” she said, starting at SSU in the Spring 2021 semester.

In her second semester in the program, McLaughlin completed a field experience in Adams County at Peebles High School. Placed in an English Language Arts classroom, she found herself learning about more than just the field of education as she interacted with students on a day-to-day basis.

“The classes that I am currently taking and have taken in the education program have prepared me to be able to teach in any classroom – no matter if it is in a rural or urban environment,” she said. “Not to mention my English professors have always encouraged me to innovate, especially when choosing which literary texts are most relevant to read with contemporary students.”

McLaughlin stressed three things she enjoyed about her placement at Peebles High School: the connection with her cooperating teacher, the boots-on-the-ground experience engaging with the students, and just being amazed and in awe of how 14- and 15-year-olds have it together and communicate. She says the Teacher Education program at SSU has provided her a world class experience with faculty members who really care about their students.

“If I had to describe the Education department in one word it would be ‘quality,’” McLaughlin said.

To learn more about the Shawnee State University Adolescent to Young Adult program in the School of Education, visit or email Dr. Gay Lynn Shipley at