A Meadowdale student points to a book as she helps a Valerie student in the library.

Meadowdale students prepare to be teachers through real-world career experiences

Alexandra KincaidMeadowdale High School News, News

As a line of eager second grade students begins to form in the library, two juniors in Meadowdale CTC’s Urban Teacher Academy are prepared to check in their books and help students pick out something new to read. 

Although they have only helped in the library a few times, the two students take control of the check-in process while another begins to reshelve the returns.

In April 2022, juniors in Meadowdale’s Urban Teacher Academy began visiting Valerie Elementary several days a week to get hands-on real-world experience that will prepare them for careers as teachers. 

The Urban Teacher Academy is a Career-Technical Program that prepares students to teach and understand the unique needs of education in urban communities. 

“An important part of Career-Technical Education is to provide students with experiences that prepare them for their chosen career field,” said Dr. Michelle Rammel, Director of CTE. “Urban Teacher Academy students obtain valuable experience from working directly with the elementary students. Not only do they become more familiar with the day-to-day responsibilities of a teacher, but also are able to apply what they learn in the classroom to a real setting.”

Urban Teacher Academy instructor Laurie Owens said students began working with Valerie Elementary, which is only a short walk from Meadowdale, after they expressed a desire to work with younger students. 

While at Valerie, students work in the library to help students check out and return books. They also help students find new books and sometimes, read aloud to them. On Mondays, students work with fifth and sixth graders, and on Wednesdays, they work with first and second graders.

Owens said although students are not in a classroom, being in the library still relates directly to their Urban Teacher Academy curriculum because they are able to observe and interact with students in the various age groups and stages of development they are learning about.

Next year, Owens plans to expand this opportunity to more Urban Teacher Academy students and hopes to add new duties, including assisting and observing in a more traditional classroom setting.

Megan O’Toole, the district’s work-based learning specialist, said students are also earning work-based learning hours for this experience.  In Ohio, work-based learning hours can help students fulfill requirements for graduation. 

“Exposure to the education field in a real-world setting is key to work-based learning in this program,” said O’Toole. “It will help them build a resume, along with employability skills like teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.” 

O’Toole also said that this immersive experience will show students the positive and rewarding side of teaching, which they may not always hear about in the media.

Owens said the ultimate goal of the Urban Teacher Academy CTE program is to prepare students to effectively teach in urban communities and to create a pipeline of students who will want to come back to DPS and teach. 

Although some students are still on the fence about whether they want to pursue a teaching career, this experience has led several to decide that they want a career that allows them to work with children in some capacity. 

Owens said the skills they are learning through this program, such as understanding human growth and development, public speaking, and how to oversee a room full of children, will translate to many other career fields. 

To learn more about the Dayton Public School District’s 26 CTE pathways, please visit click here.

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