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Tomorrow#8217;s teachers in the classroom today

Ashley McKnight-Taylor

A new course this year in Suffolk Public Schools might have helped produce 20 potential teachers, who, ideally, will come back to work for their alma mater.

Teachers for Tomorrow is a statewide program for recruiting high school students into the teaching profession, as well as giving students an opportunity to understand the teaching profession.

It is offered to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing a career in education.

This year, for the first time Suffolk Public Schools offered the course to students; locally it is called the Teacher Cadet program.

Theresa Caffee teaches a class of 20 students at Lakeland High School, and said this first year has been a learning experience, but successful nonetheless.

“I am very pleased,” she said. “I feel that the students have gotten exposure to the field that they never could’ve had in the first or second year of college.”

For those truly interested in pursuing education as a career, this course “is a huge advantage,” she said.

The LHS students started their field experiences last Friday, where they selected which grade they were interested in teaching and shadowed a another teacher for the entire day. In an effort to give them a true feel for the profession, they also had to teach a short lesson to the class. 

Four cadets were matched with Lakeland High School teachers, eight with Forest Glen Middle School teachers, and six with Kilby Shores Elementary School teachers.

Senior Albany Byrum said she initially signed on for the class because it was a free, dual-credit course. She likes children, but is interested in government, so she decided to teach U.S. and Virginia history to 11th graders.

While Byrum said she’ll likely go into lobbying instead of teaching, the class “gave me a different experience” and “an appreciation for the teachers.”

But for Amy Latta, also a senior, the course solidified a decision she had already made: to teach elementary school.

“It was great,” she said. “The kids are amazing to work with.”

Latta gave lessons in social studies and English. Because the first graders were studying Abraham Lincoln, she went to the library and read every children’s book she could find on the former president.

She found the whole experience to be “pretty realistic.”

“I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

In preparation for the new course, Caffee spent three days in Richmond for training in the Teacher Cadet curriculum, a requirement of the state program.

Virginia’s program utilizes the South Carolina Teacher Cadet curricular model.

The state program requires students have and maintain a minimum 2.7 grade point average or its equivalent, submit three satisfactory teacher recommendations, and submit a brief essay and application.

The Suffolk Public School version is a dual-credit course, where students can earn college credit in conjunction with Paul D. Camp Community College. Requirements include a “3.0 GPA derived from predominantly college-preparatory classes, strong interest in teaching and education and five written teacher recommendations,” according to the course study.

Upon successful completion of the course, they will earn one high school credit and six college credit hours.

The students who participated in the class this year are Jennifer Blanchard, Kendall Brown, Albany Byrum, Kelsey Cutchins, Katie Daughtrey, Melissa Dunn, Eric Ehrenzeller, Clarissa Epps, Jessica Estienne, Jameka Hicks, Matt Hinson, Megan King, Nicole Klee, Amy Latta, Megan Lilly, Jessica Mason, Stephanie Owen, Michelle Ricks, Eaude’ Scott and Julia Skeeter.

ashley.taylor@suffolknewsherald.com