Patching Some Tires and Paving the Way in Special Education: Meet Marina Sorrell '17
On May 9, Marina Sorrell ‘17 received her diploma from the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton, where she majored in Intervention Specialty, or the education of neurodiverse students. Leading up to this significant moment, she has had many opportunities to both reflect upon her time as a student at Carroll and to plan on how she will utilize the tools her teachers gave her to now teach in her own classroom as a licensed Pre-K through 12th grade Intervention Specialist.
Marina graduated Cum Laude, and The UD Department of Education and the Dean’s office selected her as the recipient of the Raymond and Beulah Horn Award of Excellence out of all the Intervention Specialists in her cohort for excellence in her subject area. In addition to this highly prestigious award, she also received other awards in excellence in Intervention Specialty from the university.
Marina has had many influential experiences leading up to her choice to become an Intervention Specialist; however, growing up as a sibling of a neurodiverse learner could be considered one of the most significant experiences that has prepared Marina for her future career. Her younger brother, Woody, was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. Marina, who was seven at the time, had not heard of the term, let alone had any idea what that meant for Woody and his future learning experiences. However, she remembers when his diagnosis finally made sense to her. In a conversation with her parents, a very young Marina compared Woody’s brain to a popped bicycle tire. “It’s not like the bike doesn’t work,” Marina said, “but it’s harder to pedal, so we have to help him inflate his tire. That’s the analogy I always think of (now) when I’m teaching.”
Marina grew up watching Woody’s team of family, therapists, adults, and educators work together to fill his tires, and she was by his side to celebrate the tiny yet monumental breakthroughs he achieved on his journey to success. Watching her brother's progress and development made a significant impact on Marina, and it inspired her desire to help children on similar learning paths.
From early on in her life, Sorrell knew that she wanted to go into the education field in some way as well. Even her 4th and 5th grade teachers at Mother Brunner School would discuss it with Marina’s parents and encourage that path for their daughter. “Every grade level I got to, I thought, ‘I could teach this grade! This would be fun!’” recalled Sorrell. It would take many years later, upon a hike with her mother, where she would realize that Intervention Specialty could be a good fit for her. An Intervention Specialist’s license would allow her to work with students pedaling their bicycles in ways similar to Woody. An additional endorsement would also allow Marina the freedom and flexibility to work with a diverse group of students in all grade levels and various subjects.
“Carroll is more than just this school on Linden Avenue. The Carroll support got me through college and got me there.”
-Marina Sorrell '17
Marina credits Carroll as being the place where she solidified her desire to become a teacher during the most formative years of her life. “I owe a lot to Carroll. I liked the subjects I was in, and I liked how my teachers went about teaching,” said Marina, “They were really great models for what it’s really like to enjoy your teaching job.” She remembers her English teachers in particular having so much fun, and those memories inspired her to make learning fun for her future students.
Carroll Social Studies Mr. Chris Sorrell ‘83, Marina’s father, mentioned to her that when she took Mrs. Jill Kilby’s AP Psychology class, it was the first time that he saw his daughter becoming a student- one who wanted to dive deeper into the material, even beyond what was being covered in class. Marina credits Mrs. Kilby, as well as her teachers at Carroll, for igniting that desire to be a lifelong learner and to become a teacher herself. “All of the teachers at Carroll are great examples of great teachers.” Marina learned from teachers, like Mrs. Marcy (Hemmert) Hughes ‘83 and Mrs. Mary Ollier, who showed Marina what it means to teach the whole student rather than just presenting the classroom content.
When it came time to apply for college, the application process for Marina looked like it does for most high school seniors, daunting. Thankfully, Marina felt comfortable being vulnerable and reaching out to her beloved teachers for help when the time came to apply. They came to her aid, reading over application essays and helping her prepare materials for submission. During the application process, her teachers at Carroll linked Sorrell to professors at the University of Dayton who are connected to the Carroll family in various ways that could help her discern both her major and her overall decision to attend the University of Dayton. “(Carroll is) more than just this school on Linden Avenue. The Carroll support got me through college and got me there,” Marina recalled.
Upon entering UD her freshman year, Marina felt more than prepared for the rigorous coursework that comes at the university level. Having taken scholarship courses during her time at Carroll, including College Credit Plus coursework as an upperclassman, Sorrell not only had experience in college-level demands, but she also had acquired college credits prior to her arrival on UD’s campus. One of the more challenging courses for freshman education majors, Physics, ended up being less of an obstacle than expected, as she had taken two years worth of physics at Carroll. Marina even ended up being the go-to classmate on her residence hall floor to proofread papers for the UD course, as Marina knew the formatting so well from her Carroll days. After taking the course at UD, Marina returned to Carroll, sought out Physics teacher, Mrs. Laurie Fuhr, and told her that she would not have passed without her.
At the University of Dayton, Marina did more than simply pass her coursework. She earned one of the top scores among her classmates on her edTPA, a performance-based Ohio licensure test. The university has also frequently asked her to speak to incoming and current undergraduate students who are entering the education field about her experiences in the School of Education.
Now, Marina is ready to help other neurodiverse students inflate their own bicycle tires and find success on their own learning journeys. She is currently applying for teaching positions in the greater Dayton and Cincinnati areas, and she is so excited to be in a classroom of her own. “I can’t wait to meet my future students, and I can’t wait to learn about them and grow with them,” she gushed, “I don’t know where I’ll be teaching, but I’m so excited to be there, wherever it is.”