Among all the names, faces and expectations that come with a new school year, Brigham Young University-Idaho sends along a batch of students to Arizona schools to learn to be educators. For fourteen weeks each semester, schools in the Mesa and Gilbert school districts partner with BYU-Idaho to prime the next generation of educators—and in the process, have first pick of first year teachers for local schools.
Mesa Public Schools first partnered with BYU-Idaho in 2005. As the program expanded, districts in Utah, Nevada, locally in Idaho, and Arizona were chosen as partner sites for their dedication to growing and enriching the education industry with new talent and innovative ideas. Student teachers now learn and teach with experienced mentors in elementary, junior high, and high school classrooms across Mesa and Gilbert.
Susan Cottle, Student Teaching Program Area Coordinator for BYU-Idaho, is an Arizona educator with over 25 years of history with Mesa Public Schools. She started work with the BYU-Idaho student teaching program after retiring from an administrator position at Dobson High School.
“Currently, the trend in education is that a teacher new to teaching stays in the classroom 3, maybe 4 years and then changes careers,” says Sister Cottle. “My goal is to give student teachers a bigger vision of what being a teacher means.”
As a final requirement for their education degree, students apply for placement in the student teaching program. The application process is highly time-sensitive, focused on serving the needs of the student as well as the partner schools. Placement introduces students to the hiring process. Students submit resumés, cover letter material and letters of recommendation, and placement schools interview applicants before selecting those students they want on their sites. Placements are a powerful tool for partner districts, as around 40% of student teachers who are placed in Arizona get contracts and stay after graduation.
Several of these new educators find placements within the program’s partner districts. Angela Helm, recently hired into the Mesa district over the orchestra program at Westwood High School, trained at Mesa High during her 14 weeks as a student teacher in 2013. When asked why she chose to return to Arizona after teaching in other states, she says, “It’s the high concentration of YSA and strong Mormon community. I was looking for that. But the most important thing was the available temples.”
With current trends in education, new teachers face challenges unique to the industry. Talented instructors need support from their communities and veteran teachers to make it through. Mesa and Gilbert districts have the unique opportunity to support fresh talent in Arizona’s pool of professional educators through the BYU-Idaho Student Teaching program.
For additional information visit: http://www.byui.edu/field-services/student-teaching