School of Education alumni return to campus, share advice with future teachers

Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated this year from May 2-6, and a group of University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education students received the opportunity to learn from retired educators at two recent luncheons. Students from Dr. Lindsay Hollingsworth’s Reading and Language Arts in Elementary and Middle School class interviewed retired teachers and administrators, with many of the participants being UW-Platteville alumni. Through their discussions, the students are creating picture book biographies in honor of their careers. Hollingsworth called the gathering an important experience for her students.

“Our students gain meaningful experiences in teaching courses and practicum experiences in school, but I also believe they have much to learn from retired teachers who can speak to the evolution of the teaching field,” said Hollingsworth, associate professor in the School of Education and assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education. “It was wonderful to welcome our alumni back to campus and to hear stories and lessons learned from their careers as well as their advice for future teachers.”

Two of the participants, Kaylee Meyers, a UW-Platteville junior majoring in elementary education, sat with 1976 alumnus David Allen, who retired from the Platteville School District after 37 years. Throughout his career, Allen taught eighth grade general science and served as assistant middle school principal. This experience was key for Meyers, who has aspirations of becoming a principal. Meyers said Allen, along with others, gave tips and advice on classroom management ideas. 

“David Allen was great. He was vocal. His advice was super beneficial. He’s been at all levels. You could see how passionate he was about his career,” explained Meyers, who is from Darlington, Wisconsin. “A big thing David said was to be yourself in the classroom – the biggest success you can get out of it is to be yourself and follow your morals. It will keep it fun for you and the kids because you care about it.”

Allen credits UW-Platteville with helping to shape his career and is now grateful he can share his professional experiences with the next generation of Pioneers.

“It’s nice to feel connected to UW-Platteville and contribute back to the young folks who are starting out in education. It is a critical time. We need quality teachers,” he said. “We had a good chance to get personal and talk about personal things that happened in our careers. The message we wanted to leave with the students was it is an honorable profession to be a teacher.”

Students heard about the generational differences when it came to adapting different practices into the classroom, especially with the advancement of technology.

“The retired educators have a ton of experience from back before technology,” said Meyers. “They couldn’t use outside resources or tools because it wasn’t available to them. Hearing how they managed the classroom was super beneficial because it’s easy to get tangled up in the technology aspect.”

Through the discussions, Allen had one big takeaway from meeting with the future educators – their enthusiasm.

“The goals they have as educators. The hunger to get out of school and get into the real world,” said Allen. “Education is critical to the future of our country. Every age level is critical.”

As Meyers embarks on the start of her career and Allen reflects on his, both are thankful for their collegiate journey at UW-Platteville.

“Coming to UW-Platteville was an eye-opening experience,” said Allen. “The professors I had broadened my perspective and caused me to see a bigger world. Being in the sciences, I took lots of field trips. It was a tremendous experience in setting the stage for being an educator. I developed a passion for science. It carried over into my classroom.”

Meyers added, “UW-Platteville is a very good school to go to for education. All the professors truly care about you.”