“Silly Miss Sarah!” Children’s voices mix with their laughter when Sarah Winters, a Lyon elementary education major, says something they find funny.
“I’ve always really loved working with people,” says Winters, “and I really thought about doing the secondary education program, but high schoolers are intimidating! When Lyon added the elementary program, it was really perfect for me because I love working with younger children, and I feel like I have the right energy to be with them. They are so funny. They always say the silliest things in class, and they make me happy. I have found a job that I feel like I’ll be really happy working in every day.”
She adds, “If I hadn’t had my internship, I would feel completely unprepared to be working.” Currently working in Mrs. Dorajo MacDonald’s class at Central Elementary, she gets to take the lead in the classroom often, “so I really know what it’s going to feel like when I’m in the classroom by myself within the next year.”
Ms. Karin Brown and Dr. Kim Crosby, Lyon education professors, reach out to the local schools to find teachers who are comfortable having interns. Winters points out that she observed in MacDonald’s classroom last year. “Now I’m back,” she says, “and I’m really involved in the classroom. I plan some of the lessons, and by November I’ll be teaching from 8 to 12, and I’ll have full control of the class during that time every day.”
Central has three kindergarten teachers who work as a team, taking turns designing different parts of the lesson plans. They teach the same lessons to all three kindergarten classes, making sure that all students get an equal level of education and will be in the same place when they transition to first grade.
“I really love that about Central,” says Winters. “Principal [Byron] Defani is really great. He works with all of the teachers and makes sure that everyone has everything they need. You can see him around the school pretty much all of the time. He drops by classrooms all of the time. The students know who he is, and they all really love him. It’s a great place.”
Winters explains, “When I’m just sitting in class with my textbooks, I learn a lot of the information that I will be teaching to the students or different techniques I can use to teach the students, but, honestly, when you get into the classroom, it’s a whole different game because the students may not learn the way that the textbook has described for you to teach them. When you’re teaching in the classroom, you have to learn to adapt and work with what you have going on in the class.”
She has found that sitting in a classroom with a textbook alone cannot really prepare future teachers for being in the classroom. Her experience at Central “has really shown me what my job will actually be like versus what the ideal thought process for my job will be like, so it’s really helped me prepare for actually being a teacher.”
She also notes that Lyon’s liberal arts program is very helpful for elementary school teachers, who teach every subject to their pupils. “They’re going to ask you questions about science, about math, about social studies, and that’s all your responsibility,” says Winters, “so when I have a wealth of knowledge that I’ve gotten from Lyon that applies in the multiple areas that I’m teaching them, it really helps me feel more comfortable and prepared in the classroom, which in turn makes the students more comfortable as well.”