LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 11, 2013) — As a college freshman, Julia Janecek knew she wanted to become a teacher, but was nervous about managing a classroom.
"I remember thinking how scary student-teaching sounded," the Paducah-native said. "However, once you get to the point where you student-teach, you are well prepared to teach a class."
This past May, she completed her student-teaching at Athens Chilesburg Elementary and graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Education with a degree in Elementary Education. She says the teacher education program built up her skills through each class she took.
"The classes and supervisors do a great job of providing you with resources to become a successful teacher," she said.
Janeck was able to demonstrate her skills this past spring, when all but about 30 of the 5th graders at her school went on a field trip to Washington D.C. She and two other UK student-teachers, Lindsay Lash and Taylor Forrest, decided to partner on a thematic unit about the nation’s capital so the students staying behind would be learning the same material as the students in Washington, D.C.
"We wanted these students to feel like they were in Washington, D.C. so providing them with centers, hands-on activities and technology really drew the kids into the lessons," Janecek said. "The students responded wonderfully and were actively engaged in the lessons. Based on our pre- and post-assessments, the students' knowledge of the material improved tremendously."
Karen Miracle, one of the supervising teachers at Athens Chilesburg Elementary, said it was obvious the student-teachers put a lot of time, thought and professionalism into their plans.
"They did so well handling the 'controlled chaos' of each of them trying to teach at once," Miracle said. "Not one of them was trying to teach over the other and they were considerate of each other’s plans. I was so impressed with their behavior management as well, with the switching of units and handing off of responsibilities in teaching. The students responded well because all three student teachers were so consistent in their expectations."
Janecek says the most rewarding experience of being a teacher is seeing the children grow and learn.
"When you finally see an idea 'click' for a student it is such a wonderful and heart-warming feeling to know that you have helped the student in his or her education. While teachers normally teach the students, you will come across times where the students teach the teacher. Sometimes our students will show and tell us things that make us want to become an even better teacher for them."
Janeck now plans to enter the teaching profession and complete the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP). It's a transition for which she feels well-prepared.
"The strategies I have learned through UK and my experiences in the classroom have molded me into the student-teacher I am today," she said. "Without the classes at UK, I would not have nearly as many strategies with lessons and behavior management as I do."
Jacqueline Horsman, who also graduated this past May from the college's Special Education program, took advantage of the many extracurricular activities and programs offered to her, including the UK chapter of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA). She took on many leadership roles, including serving as an ambassador for the College of Education, vice-chair of the College of Education Council on Student Leaders, and as a member of KEA's central district board. She also led the planning committee for the KEA Outreach 2 Teach event last summer at Salyersville Grade School.
"After that first meeting (with KEA), I was hooked," she said. "I saw what good work the chapter did for the community through their events, and I also saw an opportunity to meet new friends. At the end of that year, I was elected outreach chair. The following year I was elected president of the UK chapter and the Read Across America Chair for Kentucky's state student program. I had found a group that not only made me happy, but an association that taught me more than I could ever learn in the classroom."
Her contributions and leadership resulted in her being awarded the 2013 KEA Marvin Dodson-Carl Perkins scholarship. She also received the Omicron Kappa Delta award for Outstanding Senior in the College of Education.
"All of these positions and responsibilities have given me great organization skills and great networks with other people," she said. "I have grown into a more confident, well-rounded person, and I feel I will be a better teacher because of my time with KEA."
Horsman discovered her passion for working with children with moderate and severe disabilities when she began volunteering for the Home of the Innocents in Louisville during her sophomore year of high school. She plans to pursue teaching in a functional mental disability (FMD) classroom, preferably in an elementary school setting.
To learn more about the UK College of Education’s Teacher Education programs, visit education.uky.edu.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jenny Wells, (859) 257-5343; Jenny.Wells@uky.edu