Cassville High School offers new course on education field

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Cassville High School students work independently on classwork during the Teach and Train class, taught by Samantha Cosper, family and consumer sciences teacher. Pictured, from left, are: Danny Burns, Valeria Perez, Brenna Pendergraft, Britney Nowak and Abbie Calhoun. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Students ask administration for practicum course, school delivers

Cassville High School students recently asked administration to offer a new course, a sneak peak into the education field, and the school delivered.

The courses, which are called Teach and Train and Teach and Train Practicum, are designed to prepare students wanting to go into the education field and include in-class and hands-on training.

"Students who enroll will graduate high school with a better understanding of what it takes to be a teacher and will have first-hand experiences and knowledge to determine if it is in fact a career they want to pursue," said Samantha Cosper, family and consumer sciences teacher. "Many times, students enroll in college as an education major, only to discover their junior and senior years, when they begin to spend time in the classroom, that their expectations of the profession may not match the reality. Our students will not have that issue. They will know before they graduate if they want to pursue a career in teaching, and will have a plan in place for their post-secondary studies.

"At this time, there are not enough teachers coming into the profession as there are retiring from it. Across the state, there is a great need for highly-qualified teachers. Offering this type of coursework for high school students is a great start to combating that problem."

The Teach and Train plan offers students in grades 10-12 one credit hour over the course of a year, and is the first class of the two-course program.

"This course focuses on the general theory and practice of teaching and learning," Cosper said. "Students learn the basic principles of educational psychology, the art of teaching, the planning and administration of educational activities, school safety and health issues, and the social foundations of education."

Teach and Train Practicum, the follow-up course, provides an opportunity to learn the profession through experience in the classroom as an intern, including direct interaction with students. Students prepare and present lessons, complete reflection journals and work closely with students.

"In the practicum course, students spend the majority of their time working in the classroom under the direct supervision of a cooperating teacher," Cosper said. "At this time, students do not receive college credit for these courses, but that is a goal we have as this program continues to develop."

Juniors and seniors may enroll in both courses the same school year and complete the program in one year. Twenty students are enrolled in Teach and Train this year, and five enrolled in Teach and Train Practicum.

To participate in the program, students must meet the following prerequisites: complete program application, complete Algebra I or equivalent with a C or better, have a cumulative GPA 2.5 or better, have attendance at 90 percent or better, submit three recommendation forms and write a student essay.

"I always wanted to be a teacher," said Valeria Perez, Cassville High School student. "But, before this, I questioned if teaching was what I wanted to do. This is helping solidify the decision. I think it [teaching] is even better than I expected.

"This will help with getting a job in the education field. In the practicum class, I help the second-graders. They make everything fun."

"I'm really good with people," said Danny Burns, Cassville High School senior. "Right now, I'm a waiter. My thought is, if you're good with people, you can make a difference for them and it's going to be right for you.

"I didn't think it [teaching] would be as great as it is. I thought it would be tiring and get old, but I look forward to it every single day."

Cosper said it is the school's goal for students to be college and career ready when they graduate.

"This means continuously evaluating what we offer to our students," she said. "The family and consumer sciences department at Cassville High School offers a variety of courses. We are a one-teacher department, so we have struggled to create a sequence of courses for students that allow them to earn any type of certification for their potential college or career area while still maintaining the courses that are required by the state of Missouri.

"Our students can go to Scott Regional Technical Center and receive certification in culinary arts and early childhood education, so I wanted to find something different that would provide them with more variety. Had these courses been offered when I was a student at Cassville, I would have taken them."

Cosper teaches the courses and completed a mandatory, two-day training in Jefferson City by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"They took 20 teachers last spring for the first round of training, and I was fortunate to be one of the 20," Cosper said. "Cassville and East Newton were the only two southwest Missouri schools that participated in the training. I love teaching and knew right away that these courses would greatly benefit our students, school and community."

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