UWP education students get teaching practice in Houston

April 5, 2006

2006_04_05.jpgPLATTEVILLE -- Eleven University of Wisconsin-Platteville students headed for Houston, Texas to practice their teaching skills in the Aldine Independent School District. The students taught at three different schools in the district and stayed with host families drawn from the district teaching staff. The interest in a partnership between UWP and Aldine ISD began in October 2004 when Wally Iselin, director of Clinical Experiences at UWP, and Jeff McCanna, director of Human Resources at Aldine, began an e-mail correspondence exploring the possibility of having UWP students do their student teaching at Aldine. Iselin said the partnership is an excellent opportunity for UWP students to get experience teaching in a very diversified school environment.

The UWP students seemed to agree. Kendra Johnson is a senior majoring in elementary (birth to 11) education. "My experience in Texas was wonderful. I absolutely loved it and would recommend it to anyone. I was in an inclusion classroom, which was very new to me on top of the fact that I was a minority there. The class I taught had 22 Hispanic and two African American children. I had also had a child who is deaf, two children who are autistic, and a Katrina evacuee, who was also a burn victim. Everyone we met was extremely welcoming, especially our host family. We felt like we were at home there and they treated us graciously. The staff at Hinojosa, the school I taught at, was also very friendly," she said. Teela Cardin, a junior also majoring in birth to 11 education, said the experience was helpful in illustrating differences in approaches to teaching. "Being able to teach at de Santiago in the Aldine School District was a meaningful experience. It was interesting to see the different teaching strategies, techniques, and even the standards that Texas has for their children. I was able to see the cooperating teacher work and the teaching in pods take place. And I felt like I was an actual teacher and all the teachers there were my supporting staff and faculty," she said.

Some students said the trip was educational by simply giving them a glimpse of another part of the country. Kiersten Henn is a a senior majoring in elementary education, with a special education/inclusion minor. "I think it was very helpful to have an experience in a different region of the country because sometimes it is hard to picture that all schools are not the same as the schools in your region. This trip exposed me to many differences between that region's education system and ours," Henn said. Aldine ISD is comprised of over 70 campuses and an ethnically and economically diverse campus of approximately 60,000 students. It ranks among the states' high performing districts and is recognized as well for its music and visual arts and physical education and wellness programs.

The students who participated in the teaching program were Nicole Keckler of Lanark, ILL; Lisa Mueller of Cuba City; Nicole Schleicher of Platteville; Samantha Spangler of Lancaster; Sarah Wagner of Lena, ILL., Samantha Walters of Wausau; Amber Wohling of Reedsburg; Anita Zach of Dodgeville; Cardin of Platteville; Henn of Sauk City; and Johnson of Gratiot. Iselin said the UWP School of Education will continue to develop the partnership with Aldine and he hopes to offer another teaching experience there next Winterim. Anyone interested in learning more about this or other Clinical Experience opportunities may contact Iselin at (608) 342-1271.

Contact: Walter Iselin, director of Clinical Experiences, UWP School of Education, (608) 342-1271,iselin@uwplatt.edu Prepared By: Evelyn Martens, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194,martense@uwplatt.edu; with Kate McKinney, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194, mckinna@uwplatt.edu

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