Return to educate

Former students come back to speak to future teachers


Photo curtesy of Carly Pederson

Former Education Academy students Carly Pederson and Jessie Reyes present to the current students. They talked about a variety of topics including college, scholarships and student teaching. “I told students to not be afraid to jump in,” Pederson said. “Don’t sit back and watch — get up, walk around, ask questions. This is the way that they will learn.”

Camille O'Neill, Sports Director

The Millard Education Academy housed at Millard West invited two former academy students back to talk to the seniors in the academy about their experience in college and student teaching on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Education Academy and English teacher Dr. Beth Rips invites three former students back on the last day of every semester. She chooses students that are in different stages of their college and student teaching journey so students can get a full perspective on what majoring in education is like.

“What I want them to take away is to know they are not alone — that other students have successfully completed the academy and have continued their education in order to enter the teaching profession in some capacity,” Rips said. “The entire scholarship process can be stressful and overwhelming. I hope that the returning students can demystify some of that.”

The returning students provided advice for current students on a variety of topics related to college, scholarships and student teaching. They also shared their personal experiences in the academy and how that has helped them in college.

Former Education Academy student Jessie Reyes is a senior at UNO and student teaching in an English Learning Arts class at Bellevue East High School. Carly Pederson also attends UNO and is student teaching a third grade class at Rohwer Elementary in Millard.

“We talked about strange classroom experiences, creating positive relationships with students and teaching English as a second language,” Reyes said. “I told them to put themselves out there in the classroom; if they want experience, they have to be willing to jump into teaching and offer help where they can when they are student teaching.”

Reyes and Pederson were excited to return to Millard West because it brought back memories of their time in the Academy. The teachers in the academy have influenced their teaching styles that they have experimented with throughout their student teaching. 

“I was so excited to be asked back to the academy,” Pederson said. “Some of my best high school memories were made in that classroom or with my academy classmates. My teachers in the academy had such a strong influence on the teacher I am today and I still keep in contact with some of them regularly. It was incredibly rewarding being back and sharing parts of my journey after academy.”

The current students learned a lot from the experience, and for many students, the experience solidified their feelings about their future. The current students look forward to attending college and student teaching on their way to becoming teachers.

“Specific advice I learned from the former students about going into teaching is when you do your internships in classrooms, and when you are student teaching, do not take everything from your cooperating teacher to have in your own classroom,” senior Megan Van Essen said. “You will learn through trial and error what works for you and your own personal teaching style. I felt very excited about the experience and it made me so happy I know what I want to do with my life already. It made me 110% sure I want to be an educator and excited for my studies in college and my own future classroom.”

It’s clear that bringing back students will not only benefit the current and past students, but this activity will benefit many students who are in the academy for years to come.