September 13, 2023 – Collinsville High School seniors enrolled in the Collinsville Area Vocational Center education practicum class began their first week of student teaching on September 11 at Collinsville Community Unit School District #10’s John A. Renfro Elementary and Kreitner Elementary schools.
CHS Seniors Julissa Arroyo, Alexia Clover, Christianne Corzine, Haley Fowler, Paulina Lopez-Barajas, Jaylene Ortiz and Natibida Rubalcava-Carreno have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and observe firsthand what it’s like to be a professional educator.
“These seniors will be spending approximately six hours weekly with teachers gracious enough to open up their classrooms for the experience,” said Shawn Geppert, the CAVC/CHS teacher responsible for the education program, “They will stay in those elementary classrooms through the end of October when they will switch to the preschool level, including placements at Webster Elementary until December. Second semester will be split between Dorris Intermediate School & Collinsville Middle School to have a wide range of experiences to incorporate into making the decision of what level they’d like to pursue in college.”
Participants perform tasks like creating bulletin boards, grading papers, working one-on-one with students who may be struggling with particular concepts, making copies, creating projects, and teaching/facilitating small group activities. At the completion of the course, they will have collected a portfolio of artifacts including behavior management ideas, lesson plans, reference letters and concepts to build their teaching philosophies.
The education practicum course is the capstone of specialized CAVC courses that introduce future teachers to the profession through classwork and student teaching opportunities. Through Early Childhood, Teaching as a Profession and Teaching Practicum classes, high school students can earn dual credit through Southwestern Illinois College and gain experience in lesson planning, teaching strategies and classroom management.
Because of their successful completion of the first year course, either Early Childhood Education or Teaching as a Profession, the practicum students have base knowledge of the education field and truly participate in an entry level student teaching experience.
“What makes this such a great opportunity for these seniors is not only learning to see things from a teacher’s perspective, but also experiencing various grade levels to help guide their career focus. Time in classrooms with children Pre-K to 8th grade, along with observations done in their high school classrooms, helps narrow what certification they want to pursue when enrolling in post secondary coursework,” said Geppert.
The proposal to expand CAVC education curriculum beyond early childhood and the in-house preschool they have operated for many years was approved by the Collinsville CUSD 10 board of education in 2021, and implemented in 2022-23 as part of the district’s Kahoks Teaching Kahok initiative.
Kahoks Teaching Kahoks is designed to grow a future teacher workforce. The program encourages current high school students to become educators by exposing them to career pathways in education and providing scholarship opportunities for those interested in returning to the Collinsville school district to teach.
“Although we recently expanded this opportunity, we have been placing students in various elementary schools across the district for the last 25 years,” added Geppert, “Administration and teachers across the district have been supportive and excited to open their classrooms for this learning experience. Our course content alone couldn’t possibly cover the variety they are gaining from the teaching practicum. The support of the district staff is key in the success of bringing these students back to our community to teach future Kahoks!”
For more information about Kahoks Teaching Kahoks future teacher scholarships, and to make a donation, please visit the Collinsville Area Community Foundation website.