Elementary Education Grad Finds Comfort in Classrooms

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

by Brianna Willard '13

With her love for children, it came as no surprise that Kerryn Sklarow would enter Saint Joseph’s University as an elementary education and special education double major with an autism studies minor in the fall of 2009.  Sklarow always provided a helping hand when others needed assistance, but she found herself on the other side of the fence throughout her freshman year at Saint Joseph’s.

During her first semester, Sklarow and her family learned that her mother would need to undergo a third open-heart surgery — her first occurred when Sklarow was three and her second when she was 10.  Her fears about her mother’s health deteriorating returned at a time when she was supposed to be fully immersed in college.

On April 20, 2010, her mother was admitted into the hospital for a 13-hour open-heart operation.  At this time, Sklarow was also preparing for her final examinations, for which she had no time to study.

“It’s really hard dealing with family problems and trying to focus on getting through the rest of the school year all at the same time,” Sklarow says.  “While most parents were helping their kids move out of dorms, mine were stuck in a hospital.”

Following her surgery, Sklarow’s mother was diagnosed with pneumonia while in recovery.  As a precautionary measure, her mother was placed in the hospital for an additional three months.  It was then that Sklarow and her family reached out to others for prayers and assistance.

When she was afraid and vulnerable, Sklarow found comfort with the children she babysat, as well as in the classroom with the students. Teaching became her passion during her mother’s struggle.  Sklarow was able to give back in a different way — to children.

“I think working with children makes everything easier to deal with,” Sklarow says.  “Children always have a way of making you smile even if you’re not in the mood, and I love them for that.”

Since her mother’s surgery, Sklarow has maintained a 3.8 GPA.  She credits her ability to persevere to her family and friends, but also the Saint Joseph’s community.  It was Saint Joseph’s that helped her find her ‘happy place’ with children, where she could escape the worries of life.

“Once I had my first field experience in the classroom, I knew it was meant for me,” Sklarow says. “Had I never gone to Saint Joe’s I would have never been able to find myself in all the chaos going on around me.”

Sklarow plans to continue her education for another year to receive her M.S. in Education: Reading Specialist.  Upon completion of her studies, she hopes to move back to her hometown of Bensalem, Pa., and become a third grade teacher at Valley Elementary School.

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