By: Taylor Hatheway
Many students have looked up to their teachers but some students at Jenks are taking steps to become teachers. Jenks, Union, and Northeastern State University are partnering together to provide a class on childhood education that takes place once a week at Union High School. Jenks students also have the chance to spend three days a week at one of their district’s elementary or intermediate schools as an intern for a teacher.
The Future Educators program is the brainchild of Kimberly Catterson, Jenks’ own career counselor, and of Jenny Flowers, Union High School’s career counselor. The goal of the program is to allow students the opportunity to see what being a teacher is really like and to experience being in an Oklahoma classroom.
“The program helps them with building a relationship with the principles and the teachers that can help them if they want to go into education,” says Catterson. “The program gives them a contact and puts them a step ahead of other students going into education.”
The students travel to Union High School every Monday to take an hour-long class about classroom management, creating lesson plans and learning about what being a teacher involves. Jenks and Union students both attend this class together and some of the classes even take place in an elementary school classroom at Union where students will have to create a lesson plan and teach it to a group of students.
As of right now, there don’t appear to be any other schools that offer a program like this, meaning that Jenks students are getting a very unique opportunity. However, Mrs. Catterson believes that other schools will soon follow in the footsteps of Jenks and Union and implement a program like Future Educators.
One Jenks student, senior Hailey Berkinshaw, has always wanted to be a teacher and chose to participate in the Future Educators program because she saw it as a great way to get started on the path to being a teacher. She is currently an intern with Ms. Rojas, a first-grade teacher at Jenks Southeast Elementary, and spends two hours with the class every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Berkinshaw says she expects that it eventually will change her perspective on teaching and will also give her an idea of what challenges or experiences she may encounter as a teacher.
Another Jenks senior, Meagan Lyon, is an intern for two teachers at Jenks West Intermediate, Ms. Mackelhaney and Mr. Gunther. She decided to participate in the Future Educators program because she’s going to college soon and is trying to decide what she wants to major in. Lyon has thought about being a teacher for a while and took this as an opportunity to see if she wanted to be a teacher or not before going to college. Lyon says that the Future Educators program has already shown her how hard teachers work and has made her appreciate her past teachers for all they did.
While enrollment for the Future Educators program has already ended for the Spring semester, Mrs. Catterson believes that this program will continue in the coming years, allowing more students to join the program next year.