Experiences of Leesville student teachers

Shown is Kenzie Istock, North Carolina State University senior and student teacher for Ms. Kindler. Istock is explaining a complex algebra problem to Leesville students.
Shown is Kenzie Istock, North Carolina State University senior and student teacher for Ms. Kindler. Istock is explaining a complex algebra problem to Leesville students.

Imagine life four years after graduating Leesville: as a college student, one is older and wiser, ready to take on the world and ready to re-enter the classroom as a student teacher. Leading a class of impressionable high school students, student teachers prepare for a career as an educator.

Student teaching programs available through Meredith and North Carolina State University provide college seniors real-world experience in a classroom environment.

These student teachers are placed all around the state, and some of them end up right here at Leesville.

Lamar Hill, NC State senior, leads a freshman English paideia class at Leesville. “”My experience teaching freshman has been both challenging and validating. While I’m not sure they have reached their full potential during my time with them, I am confident they have all gained something worth learning from my teaching.”

Erin Mercer, Meredith College senior and chemistry student teacher, struggles to understand the shortcomings or achievements of her students.

“They [students] are all mini-copying machines, either writing every single detail down or nothing at all. Throughout my time at Leesville, I have learned to keep notes short and sweet, leaving everything else up to class discussion or practice. It can be frustrating when students don’t want to participate, but it is hard to teach a class of students without an understanding of their needs,” said Mercer.

Lauren Sharp, NCSU senior and math student teacher, shares a similar struggle. “My biggest challenge is classroom management. I never thought it would be so hard to keep a class quiet and controlled for 90 minutes while also trying to teach them algebra.”

Istock describes her time teaching algebra as an opportunity to develop new skills in order to keep up with rambunctious high school students.

“Two of the main skills I have had to learn and perfect during this time are patience and organization. My largest class is made up of 31 students and keeping them focused and on task is a very difficult job,” said Istock.

Upon surveying Istock’s class, one could see that her hard work pays off; students are attentive and respectful, actively participating and enjoying their 90-minute class with Istock and Kindler.

Hill feels that his best asset teaching is the ability to communicate with students in a way that engages them.

“It’s a learning process, freshman are very impressionable and coming from a university it can be hard to gauge a student’s level of intellectual abilities. I know my teachings won’t always have the intended effect, but it is a joy to watch some transcend their difficulties or circumstances in their desire to learn,” said Hill.

The goal of college students leading Leesville classes is to become comfortable and prepared for a classroom setting, which Hill, Istock and Sharp will enter the following year. These future teachers strive to impart their knowledge to younger generations and cultivate a love of learning. Their time at Leesville marks a milestone in the future endeavors of their teaching careers.



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