FREEPORT (WREX) – Most prospective teachers don’t receive classroom training until the end of college years, but some students at Freeport High School are ahead of the game with a unique teacher preparation program.
In the halls of Freeport High School are future leaders, and some students already know what they want to be.
“Music has been a passion of mine, I have been playing saxophone since I was in 5th grade and my passion only grew from there,” said David Helbling, Senior.
“I would love to be a physical education teacher and potentially high school or college football coach,” Franco Avila said.
While David and Franco travel different paths, they have one thing in common, their love for education.
“This group of students that I have here are all senior students and they all want to be teachers. They come every day talking about good when can we do this and when can we do that. These relationships are what they “I’m really excited for,” said Nacia Patterson, family and consumer science teacher.
Nacia Patterson leads the “Future Educators” course at Freeport High School.
“This class is clinic-based, so they go through middle school and high school and work with a one-on-one teacher doing much like a teaching experience like you would in college,” Patterson said. .
The program is generally hands-on, but students have had to navigate the classroom differently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We haven’t had the face-to-face experience with our students, so they have done it virtually, so this will be our first year back in the classroom working with children and students individually,” Patterson said.
The nationwide pandemic has made some students question whether the field of education is right for them.
“A lot of kids last year were like I don’t like it, it’s no fun, if that’s teaching, then I don’t want to be a teacher,” Patterson explained. “Because they don’t have that face to face interaction, there’s a lot of things that you’re limited to, you can’t do hands-on activities and crafts and things like that that you usually have. opportunity to do in a classroom “,
After a year of virtual learning, the students are back in the classroom with an urge to learn.
“Some of us are more practical learners and it helps a lot to be there to see how the teachers are doing their job, it helps us a lot for our future,” said Avila.
The “Future Educators” class is a one-year course.
“I wanted to get as much experience as possible before going to college, so I have more experience under my belt compared to other students,” Helbling said.
Students get a taste of what it’s like to teach all subjects. Nacia said it was important to make sure her students were exposed to everything.
“Making sure they get into an area one semester with a teacher they’re interested in, then the next semester they might be with something totally random just to give them that exposure in a content area,” Patterson said. .
The students said they were grateful for this program, knowing that not everyone will have this opportunity.
“It’s a big deal that we’re only eight in this class,” said Helbling. “And I’m one of the eight, so having that experience compared to other kids that might go to a bigger university with a class of 100 me being that kid that had that experience is a big head start. compared to all these other children, “
Something new added to the course, due to the pandemic, is that students are now learning virtual planning and teaching of zoom courses.