Upperclassmen school their students


Photo by: Peter Dang

SHOWING APPRECIATION: Junior Michael Sugrue works with one of his fourth graders on their Mother's Day poem. Sugrue likes working with fourth graders due to their maturity.

Peter Dang, Editor-In-Chief

Twenty kindergarteners, sitting criss-cross apple sauce focusing on their teacher standing at the board, teaching them to write a sentence. This teacher is not the one with their name on the door, this teacher is a high school junior or senior. The students participate actively, each one raising their hand trying to seemingly raise it higher than the next to get called on.

After high school, there are many career paths to choose from. For some students, it may be education, or a career working with children. Ready, Set, Teach gives students the opportunity to work with children in an educational setting in high school. Students interested are required to take child development as a prerequisite and then they can interview for Ready, Set, Teach.

Photo by: Peter Dang
CLASS CAMPING TRIP: Senior Claire Richardson teaches her first graders how to make smores. Richardson plans to become a nurse practitioner with a specialty in pediatrics.

“I have always loved kids and I wanted to have a way to hang out with kids and Ready, Set, Teach has been a blast for me,” junior Megan Devaney said. “I’m with a kindergarten class, my class is very hands on and I am always working with the kids. I don’t really have a moment of downtime so that’s been a lot of fun.”

In the first six weeks, students learn about what to expect, including how to work with children professionally, TEKS, classroom discipline, lesson planning, evaluation, ethics, blood-borne pathogens, and what to do if accidents happen. The program does not go to elementary schools to work with mentor teachers and students until the second six weeks.

“I had a student say that you don’t really teach us after the first six weeks,” Ready, Set, Teach Teacher Laura Barnes said. “At first I was surprised, but in many ways they were right, we help them figure this out from a facilitative role after the first six weeks. It is all about the students.”

Working with students for two hours a day, twice a week, the Ready, Set, Teach students get to know their students personally and learn a lot about every single one of them throughout the year.

“There’s this one little boy. He points out the most peculiar things and the other day we just finished our measurement unit and he asked ‘Ms. Taylor, how tall are you?’” junior Taylor Hubbard said. “He’s just so sweet.”

Ready, Set, Teach students are in authoritative positions in the classroom. They work with their mentor teacher and their students to ensure that they are respected just like the mentor teacher.

“Establishing authority is important, I do it mainly by having rules and actually following through with what you’re going to say,” senior Claire Richardson said. “If I tell a kid ‘hey if you do that again I’m going to write in your folder’ I actually do it and don’t give them a pass.”

Along with forming a relationship with their students, Ready, Set, Teach students form a relationship with their mentor teachers. The mentor teachers welcome the Ready, Set, Teach students into their classroom and teach them how to run classrooms, how to work with students and other faculty members along with other teacher duties.

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FOCUSING FURIOUSLY: Junior Lilly Yeager teaches math to her small group of fourth graders. Yeager likes Ready, Set, Teach as it gives her networking opportunities with teachers and administrators.

“My mentor teacher explains everything to me and I feel like I learn a lot more through her because we have a positive relationship,” Richardson said. “She asks for my input on things such as how I would do a lesson and a lot of the time we end up comparing notes to figure out how it could have gone better and then we work towards that next time.”

Working with elementary school aged students requires a multitude of different aspects from a Ready, Set, Teach student, including respect, communication, confidentiality, responsibility and accountability.

“You’re not going to get respect if you don’t respect them,” senior Rylee Holder said. “Working with older kids you have to get to their level and they will show you respect.”

Ready, Set, Teach students are required to teach one lesson in front of the whole class every six weeks, but most students teach more than one. Ready, Set, Teach students also work with their students in small groups and one on one. Working in different sized groups allows Ready, Set, Teach students to learn how to meet the different needs of their students.

“It sounds weird but public speaking skills is really important when teaching a full class of fourth graders,” junior Michael Sugrue said. “They have no boundaries, they have no hold back, they’ll tell you what you’re doing wrong and it’s really helped me with my public speaking skills.”

The prerequisite to Ready, Set, Teach is Child Development which is a predominantly female class, limiting exposure of males to the field of education and working with children.

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TIME’S UP: Junior Cassandra Gonzalez works with her student on learning to tell time. Gonzalez’s students are eager to learn from her.

“We wish there were more boys in the program,” Ready, Set, Teach Teacher Jean Frazier said. “The boys in there love it, the little kids think all of our students are rock stars, but especially the boys, because there’s not many of them.”

Because the program is focused on education and working with elementary school aged children, the program is predominantly female, reflecting the trend in elementary education. According to male Ready, Set, Teach students, they encourage more males to join.

“I feel like anyone can teach if they were interested and wanted to. No one is not fit or is too fit for being a teacher,” Sugrue said. “I just think that their career path probably interests females more than males.”

The program has been running for three years, evolving each year.  It gives students experience working with children to become teachers, doctors, nurses, attorneys, social workers along with other careers working with children.

“In the beginning we were focusing on as the name said preparing students for the field of education and we still mean that,” Barnes. “We are finding so many students come to this program because they want to work with kids.”

For some students like Holder, they were inspired to work with children due to certain teachers who have made a significant impact on them growing up.

“I’ve always wanted to work in a field where I can help kids. When I was growing up, I was very close with a lot of my teachers and they helped me through a lot,” Holder said. “So I think it would be really rewarding to do the same for the next generation.”

After completing a portfolio consisting of a résumé, lesson plans, a case study,  letters of recommendation, evaluations and work from throughout the year, Ready, Set, Teach students can get a Paraprofessionals and Substitute certification for AISD. This certification allows students to become substitute teachers for AISD after graduating high school.

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TIME’S UP: Junior Cassandra Gonzalez works with her student on learning to tell time. Gonzalez’s students are eager to learn from her.

“The Paraprofessionals and Substitute certification looks great on a résumé,” Barnes said. “If the students want to be a substitute teacher they will have to go through Human Resources and be interviewed, but it gets their foot in the door right out of high school.”

The education field is in high demand for teachers and this program helps prepare students for the field and for other careers working with children.

“We need more teachers, they are under appreciated,” Hubbard said. “I feel like if we had even more people in Ready, Set, Teach we would be a very big help.”