Lake Creek students complete practicum hours in former teachers’ classrooms
Montgomery ISD’s Practicum in Education and Training Program offers students in high school that are considering a career in education the opportunity to step to the front of the classroom and learn the role of teacher. Students are able to select the grade level they would like to teach and if the scheduling can be coordinated, they can even request their mentor teacher by name. At Lake Creek High School, four practicum students have done just that, requesting the opportunity to be mentored by someone they love and adore, that already made an impact on their education. One is even learning from her own mother, her very own elementary PE teacher.
Madi Wells, a junior, is one of Coach Bobbi Wells’ five daughters, and she’s getting to spend a little extra one-on-one time with her mom this school year, teaching fifth and first grade PE at Keenan ES.
“It’s so different to be on this side of the gym with her, to learn how she handles things, watching how the kids act and how she responds,” said Madi. “My mom loves her job and getting to assist her in teaching and coaching has really helped me learn how to work with kids.”
It’s a rare thing to get to teach your own child, but also being their mentor and having a front row seat to them stepping out of their comfort zone is something many parents don’t get to see when their kids are at school for the majority of the day.
“Madi loves kids, but I’m not sure I ever thought of teaching as her direct path,” said Coach Wells. “I was honored that she wanted to be with me and it’s led to some great conversations at home, making connections and discussing what the day is like and how teachers have to be flexible. I think she’s come to appreciate the job that teachers have.”
Keenan ES has a ‘Power Packs’ program for their first graders, in which students can take home a backpack on the weekend full of PE equipment to encourage them to spend time outside, playing games and sharing PE games with their families. Madi is in charge of organizing and completing the inventory on those backpacks each week, making sure they are ready to go home with students each Friday.
“Madi is a perfectionist, so I’ve been very impressed to see how confident she has been in taking on responsibilities and making connections with kids,” said Coach Wells. “We know how important it is to call a child by name, and she’s really piggy-backed off of that to make our students feel connected in class.”
Avery Bowers, a senior at Lake Creek HS, is completing her practicum time in Mrs. Roach’s second grade class, also at Keenan ES, and says that her experience with Mrs. Roach has grown her desire to be a teacher herself. Christine Roach was Avery’s fifth grade teacher in Montgomery ISD and has actually known Avery’s father since high school, when she worked at his family’s restaurant.
“The same little things that made her my all-time favorite teacher are the same things she still does today to connect with her students and make them feel like the most important kids in the room,” said Avery. “To this day, she’s still my favorite teacher, and I hope I can learn from her how to create a classroom that is fun and that students want to come to each day!”
Being on the mentor side of the Education in Training program, Mrs. Roach is getting to enjoy seeing the growth in her former student, feeling honored that Avery wanted to return to her classroom.
“Avery is very mature and her servant heart has been a wonderful thing to witness,” said Roach. “She takes initiative to help my students and gets right down on the floor to guide them in what they are doing. She is fantastic with the kids and is a natural teacher!”
Lake Creek junior, Grace Stadler, is completing her first year of practicum with Mrs. Wilson, her former fourth grade teacher at Stewart Creek ES. Grace’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and began her two-year battle for survival while Grace was in Mrs. Wilson’s class. Grace remembers how Mrs. Wilson supported her through that time, encouraging her to write about what she was feeling and being a motherly figure when her mother wasn’t able to be fully present.
“I truly cannot think of a better person to learn from after I think of the difference she made in my life that year,” said Grace. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to do teaching and actually started this year without this on my schedule, but when I found out I could learn from her and be in her room again, I knew it was the right choice. Although it’s been a lot to learn and it clearly has its challenges, getting to be able to make a difference in a child’s life, the way Mrs. Wilson was able to do for me, it’s just the coolest feeling.”
Mrs. Wilson fondly remembers Grace’s smile and her enthusiasm to always share what she had written. “I can close my eyes and see fourth grade Grace!” said Wilson. “She always had and still has a million dollar smile that ignites straight from the heart!”
Current students in Mrs. Wilson’s class truly love their “Miss Grace” and can see the connection, the love and respect that these two have for each other.
“Cancer chapters, as hard as they are, often become chapters filled with great blessing!” said Wilson. “That fourth-grade Grace was scared and at times at a loss of what to do or how to handle this huge frightening challenge. I got to be in Grace’s corner, sharing life and creating a connection that will always be there. Fast forward to today and I truly feel that my current students feel more valued and safe by seeing our teacher/student relationship that is still so strong.”
Junior Abby Carswell is the first practicum student at Lake Creek HS to do her training in choir, under the leadership of Oak Hills Choir Director Kristin Norris. Abby’s choir experience at Oak Hills JH really instilled a love and passion for music and Mrs. Norris’ positive energy has been the driving force in helping Abby decide if this is the direction she wants to go.
“Mrs. Norris is always so bubbly and it just makes me want to be that way too – it’s contagious!” said Abby. “I love getting to interact with the kids and work with students, getting to share our love of music and signing together. She’s just so good at it, so it’s easy to learn from her!”
Having taught her, her brother and knowing her family, it was an honor for Norris to have her return as a student-teacher, setting an example and being a leader for the girls
“Abby is incredible!” said Norris. “She is such a great leader, a phenomenal student and was a joy to have in junior high. She is teaching one of my sixth grade girls groups and they legitimately cheer when she walks in the room!”
Learning to teach music and manage classroom expectations with such a large group of students is preparing Abby for a future as a music teacher. She models both vocally and with hand signs, supports students vocally by section, leads warm-ups and works with small groups as the choir prepares for performances.
“I was questioning if this (being a teacher) is what I really want to do, and this experience of working with Ms. Norris has confirmed that I want to study Music Education! It’s what I know – it’s what I love – and if I can be like her then my job would be great!”
Taking part in CTE Practicum courses allows Montgomery ISD students to decide if the idea they have for their future is really something they want to pursue, something they know they’ll enjoy. Practicum in Education and Training is offered at both Lake Creek and Montgomery High Schools and is available to all MISD students interested in pursuing or considering a career in education.
“It’s easy to say you want to be a teacher,” said Coach Bobbi Wells. “But the opportunity that this program gives all students- the teaching, organization skills and learning how to constantly adjust – provides a real experience in what it takes to be a teacher, hopefully helping them decide if this is the path they really want to take.”