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News

Education mentoring pairs students with alumni teachers

April 15, 2019

A new one-on-one mentoring program pairs Carthage education students with young alumni who teach in the field.

Professor Lara Christoun and Leah Ebener ’16 launched the initiative last fall. Five recent graduates volunteered to be mentors in this pilot year, and faculty members plan to gradually expand the pool in future years.

Carthage students teaching kids at an elementary schoolThe program is designed for third-year students, giving them valuable feedback from professional educators well in advance of their student teaching assignments.

“Students who want to strengthen a particular aspect of their teaching can turn to a mentor for guidance,” says Prof. Christoun, assistant chair of the Education Department at Carthage. “With a little experience in the field, our alumni can help teacher candidates to choose a specialty, brush up on classroom management, and gain confidence with a specific subject, school setting, or age level.”

Participants visit their mentors’ classrooms at least biweekly to observe, teach mini-lessons, and ask questions between periods. Each mentee also compiles a journal with observations and research notes on whatever skills they’re looking to shore up.

Elementary education major Haley Ehlers ’20 made an instant connection with mentor Emily Gabriel ’16, who teaches a few miles from campus at Pleasant Prairie Elementary School.

“I have loved getting to see the knowledge she gained from Carthage put into action,” Haley says. “I like that we both have taken nearly all the same classes and can discuss the education program — which is unique! … I am very thankful to have her as a mentor, teacher companion, and role model.”

The mentoring program reinforces the Education Department’s emphasis on field experience. By the time they start the official student teaching semester, Carthage education students already have accumulated 135 hours (450 hours for urban education minors) in K-12 classrooms.

As an active participant in Ms. Gabriel’s class, Haley soaked in the full teaching experience.

“I was slowly immersed so that I got to truly see how the class worked. I get to know the students: their names, individualities, quirks, and the ways they learn best,” she says. “… I really value this, because it gives me a taste of what my future classroom will be like: one with a positive student-teacher relationship.”

The targeted mentorship supplements a College-wide network that’s coordinated by the Office of Institutional Advancement and The Aspire Center. Students in any major can apply to that broader Student-Alumni Mentoring Program.

Applications will be circulated in May to students who want to join the teacher mentoring program for 2019-20. The Education Department is also recruiting more alumni educators to serve as mentors for at least two years.

For more information, contact Prof. Christoun at lchristoun@carthage.edu or 262-551-2337.

Learning to teach