High schoolers find success as student teachers
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – Bay Port students with an eye on the future are getting valuable classroom experience this summer.
In total, 68 students are in classrooms as student teachers during summer school to help educate the next generation of learners.
Jenna Plummer, a senior who is also a St. Norbert College hopeful, is one of those students.
She took a scrapbooking, jewelry and a photography class when she went to summer school.
Now as a summer job, she’s in the classroom for six weeks helping teach.
“It is a job, but I see it as more, it’s fun,” Plummer said. “I don’t complain about coming every day.”
Plummer is student teaching Fun With Numbers, a class where she will see approximately 120 students in six weeks in grades 2-4.
In the class students learn a different math lesson every day or two, then apply it by playing games.
Seeing the light bulb go off in her students’ minds is what she enjoys the most.
“It’s that ‘aha’ moment where they finally catch on the game they were playing, as well as addition or subtraction, where they don’t get the problem right away but then they do after you explain it to them,” she said.
Plummer said she is interested in one day teaching herself, and the main teacher of Fun With Numbers said she has the potential to do well if she decides on that path.
“She’s very good with the kids, and she’s patient too,” said Amanda Biffert, a third-grade teacher from the Pulaski Community School District. “You have to have the heart, and I see it with her.”
Kayla DeMars is another student teacher who has gone through the halls as a summer school student.
She took scrapbooking and Kids’ Concoctions. Now she is assists Ryan Francour in the geocaching class.
In the class students use a handheld GPS unit and enter coordinates and use a code to find the geocache, which will then reveal a clue to the next one.
“A lot of the kids tell me they like being outside most of the day and they like going to the coordinates and being able to go find it,” DeMars said. “They like their freedom.”
She said she was grateful Francour asked her to student teach the class with him.
“Mr. Francour asked me to do it and obviously I was super excited to do it and I love spending time with the kids and it’s a super cool experience,” DeMars said.
Like Plummer, DeMars is a senior who will see about 120 students during six courses over six weeks.
“These are kids I will have connections with and it will last forever, so it’s cool to have connections with these kids,” DeMars said.
She plans to attend technical college in her future to get her prerequisite classes out of the way, but she doesn’t know what her next step will be after that.
But Francour said she has the skills not only to succeed as a student teacher, but be successful regardless of her path.
“(She’s) somebody that’s reliable, and that is going to show up every day on time and be a leader in the classroom and help students on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Erin Whitman also took summer school classes, but she took the distance and fitness class to help her as a runner. She is now a senior on the cross country team.
Whitman hopes to attend either UW-Madison or UW-La Crosse and one day go into education. But right now she student teaches Power Up Your Math.
“I was interested because I co-teach algebra with a teacher at the high school and that’s with freshmen, and I liked it, so I thought teaching with elementary kids would be a good experience, along with teaching high school,” Whitman said.
Numbers are smaller in this class. Whitman will only work with approximately 15 kids this three-week session.
But she said she enjoys it because it gives her an opportunity to work with students one-on-one.
“Once you step in and encourage the kids and get them heading in the right direction, sometimes it clicks and they get it figured out and they use it with other problems,” Whitman said.
Ryan Deprey, a sixth-grade teacher at Lineville Intermediate School who is teaching this class, said Whitman has done excellent so far.
“She’s done a phenomenal job with them,” Deprey said. “I’ve been very impressed with her, the way she has shown instinct and jumped right in.”
The Howard-Suamico School District offers a variety of summer school classes, with a combination of sports and education. This year courses will run until July 27.
For more information, visit hssd.k12.wi.us/summerschool.