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Short of teachers? Make your own from high school students in your own district. This is the unique approach that underpins the two-year Urban Teacher Academy program at Central Campus.

Instructor Carole Henning receives students from the five high schools and suburban neighborhoods of Des Moines. In addition to regular classroom instruction, students observe teachers in their schools, participate in internships at local schools, and visit education departments at Grand View University and the University of Northern Ireland. Iowa.

The Teachers’ Academy is just one of over 50 courses available for Central Campus students. This is part of the Education and Leadership program, which also includes courses in early childhood careers, urban leadership, criminal justice, and sports arbitration.

“Teaching can seem easy when you are a student sitting behind a desk. But it’s like watching ice skating. Sounds easy until you try it. They can see what it is on the other side of the desk, ”Henning said.

During a visit to the Central Campus last month, the students were busy giving presentations on a variety of educational topics.

Hoover High School senior Pacia Markle wants to teach English in Japan. She taught the class a physical Japanese word game that looked like a game of musical chairs. She called out “meishi” for the noun and “toushi” for the verb as the students scrambled to find seats.

“I started taking Japanese at Central Campus when I was in first grade and it sparked my interest (in teaching),” Markle said.

Jordan Milligan, a junior at East High School, hopes to someday become a high school history and English teacher, or perhaps teach civics and government in college.

“I started studying law, but realized I didn’t like it. I love school and when I had the opportunity to take this course at the Central Campus, it confirmed my choice to pursue studies in education, ”he said.

This year he worked with a third grade class at Phillips Traditional School.

Teachers’ academy freshmen observe classes at Greenwood and Merrill this year, while sophomores complete internships at six elementary schools in Des Moines.

Courtnei Caldwell senior’s presentation focused on the lack of minority teachers.

“Can anyone guess what percentage of minority teachers are in the Des Moines school district? ” she asked. Someone guessed 20 percent. “No, it’s six percent,” she said, pointing out the need for programs like the teachers’ academy to train educators from all walks of life to reflect the diversity of students and the community.

According to Julie Rosin, a special consultant at Central Campus, the program was created in 2001 with a federal grant designed to increase the number of students pursuing a career in teaching.

“Des Moines was specifically selected to focus on preparing students for secondary careers (middle and high school), as these were the areas of shortage,” she said. “The urban teacher program was to build on the return of Des Moines students to the neighborhood as professionals.”

Cheryl Sypniewski was the program’s first instructor. She used to say to her students, “When you finish this program, you are either going to say, ‘Yes! This is exactly what I was hoping for ”or“ What was I thinking? “”

Some of his alumni now teach at Hiatt Middle School and King Elementary in Des Moines as well as in Johnston, Adel, Carlisle, Lynnville / Sully, Chicago and Kansas.

Students enrolled in the Urban Teacher Academy earn high school credits and up to five DMACC credits.

Teresa Peterson was a program instructor from 2012 to 2015.

“In the three years I was there, about 70 percent of the students completed the program with the intention of pursuing a career in teaching,” she said. “In addition to the college credits offered, one of the strengths of the program is the number of internship hours (field experience) that students complete. “

But even for students who aren’t pursuing a career in teaching, the program can provide valuable experience, she said.

“I had a student who wanted to be a child psychologist… and wanted to gain more experience working with children,” Peterson said. “Likewise, I had a student who was interested in pediatric nursing and after completing her science requirements (she) realized that gaining experience working with children was a part of it. missing. “

The Urban Teacher Academy has 68 students enrolled in the spring semester. It is open to juniors and seniors who have a GPA of 2.5 or better in their home school.

ABOUT THE SERIES

The Des Moines Register reviews some of the unique courses – from auto body repair to aviation technology – offered at the central Des Moines campus. The school attracts 1,500 students from 29 central Iowa school districts who take courses in 30 vocational and technical areas and 35 advanced courses not available at most traditional high schools.

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