Harlee Wagoner (‘20), Wil Johnson (‘21), Johanna Vaske (‘20) and Elizabeth DeAnda Ramirez (‘20) are prepared to teach the next generation of students. In their senior year, they have the opportunity to student teach and put into action all that they’ve learned at the Cliff and Professional Development School. As a student teacher, they teach and manage the classroom with supervision of the cooperating teacher. For many, this experience helps them build the confidence they need to start applying for teaching jobs around the United States.
Elizabeth DeAnda Ramirez credits her cooperating teacher for showing her how to incorporate technology into the classroom, along with traditional textbooks and worksheets. “Utilizing learning apps makes teaching my students more engaging and fun. They see the apps as a game instead of an assignment.” Having opportunities to observe how teachers are adapting to provide a quality and impactful education is something Elizabeth feels will make her a successful future teacher.
Wil Johnson has felt like he is part of a supportive family at BCU. All his education professors have taken the time to really get to know him and answer any questions he has, school related or not. “I can reach out to my professors with anything, either school related or not and they will be there to help me.” This personalized learning style is something Wil hopes to replicate with his students, aiming for mutual trust between him and his classroom.
The education faculty at Briar Cliff focus on providing their students with a quality education, with a broad intellectual background and career development. Upon graduation, education students will have spent 120-180 hours in a variety of classroom settings. Theresa Engle, education department chair says, “Hands-on-experience is the best way for our students to become successful teachers. When students are in the classroom, they are learning real time how to manage a classroom, create a lesson plan, and adapt to different learning styles.”
Harlee Wagoner knew Briar Cliff was setting her up for success when she began her hands-on experience in the classroom. Throughout her three and a half years at BCU, Harlee has spent hundreds of hours in different classroom settings. “I have had the opportunity to observe and teach in classrooms from the kindergarten to fifth grade and I have spent time working with English Language Learners.” This hands-on experience gave Harlee the skills she needed to become comfortable in the classroom and realize what grades she wanted to teach. The many hours she spent discovering her passion for teaching, has provided her with a better understanding of how to run and manage a successful classroom.
Looking toward the future, Johanna Vaske is confident. Due to the pandemic, the traditional way of teaching will be altered, however she is ready for the challenge. “Teaching is one of those professions that is truly rewarding. You might not be rewarded with all the money in the world, but you truly do wake up in the morning feeling like you have a purpose in life, to serve children, and to help guide them on their path to success.” She’s grateful to the education department for their flexibility in working with her schedule and fulfilling her needs and requirements.