This summer, 10 University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education students were selected to work for the Pecatonica Area School District. Since June, UW-Platteville students have been receiving hands-on learning experiences at Camp Pec, a summer school program for grades 4K-5th grade. According to Program Coordinator Ashley Bredeson, about 40 elementary-aged students attend the camp daily, giving UW-Platteville students the exposure of teaching students face-to-face.
“Each student is in charge of a week,” said Bredeson. “They prepare their own lesson plans and activities for all the different ages we have, which are between 5 and 11 years old. The students get the feel of writing up a lesson plan, getting the materials and putting it all together.”
Tara Wagar, a senior elementary education major from Lancaster, Wisconsin, said in her role at Camp Pec, she’s not only planning activities for the campers, but also interacting with their parents and answering questions. Wagar acknowledges how this opportunity is giving her a glimpse into her future.
“It’s important to have these hands-on experiences because it gives me an insight and experience in what it’s going to be like from here on out once I graduate and actually get to have my own classroom,” she said. “It gives us experience to see what techniques veteran teachers are using and ideas for lesson planning.”
UW-Platteville senior Shelby Reinkober is grateful for all the in-person experiences she’s been receiving at Camp Pec. She notes this opportunity is teaching her how to navigate the different relationships with the children.
“This job has helped prepare me for how to lesson plan. It’s allowed me to see what kids enjoy or what they don’t enjoy – it has really opened my eyes to what teaching is going to be like,” said Reinkober, an elementary education major from Madison, Wisconsin. “These hands-on experiences are extremely important for us because it allows us to see first-hand what it will be like to be a teacher. Especially after COVID, these hands-on experiences are crucial for me to feel prepared to go into teaching.”
Bredeson calls it a great experience partnering with UW-Platteville and is looking forward to finishing up Camp Pec on Aug. 6 with all the students.
“It’s so nice to be with workers wanting to be here, who show up every day wanting to be with kids and wanting to see them learn. They are doing a phenomenal job,” said Bredeson. “I hope this is just the beginning and we keep inviting college students to help. It’s a benefit for them to be working with children. It’s going to make them better educators.”
For both Wagar and Reinkober the most rewarding part of the summer has been the children, taking the campers on field trips and learning from the school district staff.
“Every kid is so unique, and they all have such fun personalities,” said Reinkober. “It has been such an enjoyable experience being able to talk, play and hangout with these kids and get close to them. In the beginning, I felt it was going to be so hard to get close to all these kids, but they opened up to us within the first few weeks and have made this such an amazing experience.”
“I have learned to observe how different children interact with each other,” added Wagar. “How to make them comfortable around you, especially with them not really knowing who you are. They have never been around the new teachers at Camp Pec. It’s building those relationships with them and getting to know them and their interests, and how to incorporate their interests into the activities we plan for Camp Pec. I’m really learning the social aspects of teaching.”