Class Works On Developing Future Teachers

Payson High School senior Jessica Slapnica, right, teaches a middle school life skills class. Ricci Gamboa, left, raises her hand to answer a question.

Payson High School senior Jessica Slapnica, right, teaches a middle school life skills class. Ricci Gamboa, left, raises her hand to answer a question. |

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Suzanne Jacobson/Roundup

Payson High School senior Jessica Slapnica, right, teaches a middle school life skills class. Ricci Gamboa, left, raises her hand to answer a question.

photo

Suzanne Jacobson/Roundup

Sixth-graders Newman Becker, left, and Roman Breyette during a class taught by high schoolers enrolled in Education Professions.

A new program at Payson High School seeks to encourage students to become teachers — particularly in Payson.

Education Professions seeks to awaken that innate satisfaction derived from teaching, while simultaneously addressing a chronic teaching shortage in the district.

“It’s really hard for us to find the quality teachers,” said Education Professions teacher Dean Pederson.

The job’s low pay can detract potential teachers from the career, although educators say the field has abundant intangible rewards.

“It is a calling,” said Payson Unified School District Curriculum Director Kathy Kay.

The Payson school district is one of the area’s largest private employers, and advocates say teaching is an excellent profession for those wanting to stay in Payson after high school.

“We’re hoping with this program we can grow our own,” Kay said.

Education Professions expands an existing, early childhood development program, to include teaching high schoolers how to teach kindergarten students through senior year.

Students learn how to write lesson plans, about theories of education and different strategies of teaching.

Pederson’s students learn by doing. They travel to the district’s elementary schools, and some of them work as peer counselors.

“The more you have the kids in front of the other kids, they feel the power,” Pederson said.

One recent afternoon in Greg Lanners’ life skills class at Rim Country Middle School, three of Pederson’s students arrived to quiz the middle schoolers about the definition of self-esteem, and how eye contact and good posture are two modes of communication.

Educators often say teaching others more fully instills knowledge in the one who teaches.

Even if students enrolled in the program choose a career other than teaching, the ideas learned about childhood development, the experience gained in public speaking, and generally, the opportunity to explore possible careers, remains invaluable, Kay said.

“There are still a lot of life skills and work skills that can be applied anywhere,” she added, including parenting.

The program has so far been well-received, Pederson said. Some students dropped out because they thought they enrolled in the early childhood class, but the majority of students have embraced the change. Roughly 50 students are enrolled.

District officials hope some of those students will choose to stay in Payson and teach.

Encouraging young natives to stay and teach is difficult, but imperative, Kay and Pederson say. Teachers that grew up in Payson are more likely to stay longer than those who moved here later in life.

Some districts offer incentives like free housing to entice teachers. Payson may have to consider such options, Pederson said. “They’re concerned with finances and how they’re going to make it.”

Pederson thinks teaching is invigorating. “It keeps you young,” he said, and it “keeps you involved in the community.”

“You don’t have to look forward to a cubicle,” Kay said.

“I don’t think you can put a salary on who teaches.

Even if students enrolled in the program choose a career other than teaching, the ideas learned about childhood development, the experience gained in public speaking, and generally, the opportunity to explore possible careers, remains invaluable, Kay said.

“There are still a lot of life skills and work skills that can be applied anywhere,” she added, including parenting.

The program has so far been well-received, Pederson said.

Some students dropped out because they thought they enrolled in the early childhood class, but the majority of students have embraced the change.

Roughly 50 students are enrolled.

District officials hope some of those students will choose to stay in Payson and teach.

Encouraging young natives to stay and teach is difficult, but imperative, Kay and Pederson say. Teachers who grew up in Payson are more likely to stay longer than those who moved here later in life.

Some districts offer incentives like free housing to entice teachers. Payson may have to consider such options, Pederson said. “They’re concerned with finances and how they’re going to make it.”

Pederson thinks teaching is invigorating. “It keeps you young,” he said, and it “keeps you involved in the community.”

“You don’t have to look forward to a cubicle,” Kay said.

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