Student Teachers Prep For School Career

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Student teaching is the final step in the education to become a career teacher.

To be so close to the achievement of her dream is "scary and exciting all wrapped into one," said student teacher Debbie Schloesser, who spent nine years working at Payson High School in the special education program.

"I love those fifth-grade kids (at Julia Randall Elementary School), but what I am really going to try to do is get another placement in special education at the high school with students who have learning disabilities," she said.

Schloesser is drawn to special ed because, she said, she feels she can encourage the students to do their best and raise the learning bar.

"Zachary Petty took my photo during his job shadow (with the Payson Roundup)," said Schloesser. "He was one of my students at the high school. It was really neat seeing him. That is so encouraging to have him find something that interests him."

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Student teachers working for the Payson Unified School District this year are hometown girl Sarah Conti (above), Diane Ludwig (top), Jessie Sands and Kristi Horsley at Frontier Elementary School; Debbie Schloesser, Jill Dendy and Deon McKeen at Julia Randall Elementary School; and Ginger Liddell at Payson Elementary School.

There are eight student teachers in Payson this semester. Their skills in the classroom will be monitored at least five times by principals Gail Gorry and Will Dunman.

"It is exciting to me to have student teachers on campus ... (they) bring to the campus that beginning level of excitement," Gorry said.

Student teachers bring new ideas to their preparatory work and gain the knowledge of tried and true methods for teaching, discipline and classroom management.

Benefits to the regular classroom teacher means there are two to share the load, and if the two have different interest areas, subjects may be taught in fresh ways.

Along with Schloesser, Jill Dendy and Deon McKeen are student teachers at JRE. Other student teachers are Sarah Conti, Diane Ludwig, Jessie Sands and Kristi Horsley at Frontier Elementary. Ginger Liddell is at Payson Elementary.

Gorry doesn't think eight student teachers in the district is an unusually high number. When she started teaching here 20 years ago, there was just one.

According to Gorry, many stay in the Rim Country to teach because they have family here and are "vested in the community."

"Of course I plan to stay here and teach," Schloesser said. She is an Arizona native and her children are fourth generation Arizonans.

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