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Teacher Cadet Program

 

What is the Teacher Cadet Program? 

The Teacher Cadet Program is a  year-long honors elective for college-bound high school students who want to learn about the teaching profession. 

 

How does the program work?

In the program, students spend the first semester studying the history of education, different learning styles, and teacher requirements. They also observe a variety of grade levels to get an idea of where they think they’d like to teach. Field experience comes in second semester when they get assigned to a class to work with teachers. Students learn the mechanics of teaching, creating lessons plans, and classroom management.

 

Newspaper Article on the Teacher Cadet Program

While the state prepares its action plan for addressing the teacher shortage crisis in Colorado, Widefield School District 3 is taking a more grass-roots approach with the Teacher Cadet program.

 

“It’s a great college prep course with heavy emphasis on writing and presentation skills and it gives students a taste of what teaching it like before going into a college educational program,” said Tiffany Shipp, Widefield High School Teacher Cadet instructor.

 

Shipp has been an instructor for the Teacher Cadet program, a year-long honors elective for college-bound high school students who want to learn about the teaching profession. The program originated in South Carolina and is currently in 35 states. It has been in the district on and off for about 12 years now.

 

“Some years it’s hard to staff due to funding and other years it’s lack of student interest. Typically it runs every other year,” said Shipp.

 

For Widefield High, it’s an off year, however, Mesa Ridge has 21 students enrolled in the course for the school year.

 

“I would love to maintain the momentum and run the class continuously year after year,” said  Krista Bruckner is the Teacher Cadet instructor at Mesa Ridge High School.

 

Bruckner has been a teacher for 18 years and has always had a passion for working with future educators.

 

“Education is an extremely important field for the future of our children. If no one becomes a teacher who will teach the kids as our present teachers are retiring or leaving the field for other opportunities? I love what I do and I believe this is what I was meant to do. I want to encourage others to follow their dreams and to see how fun and rewarding teaching really can be,” said Bruckner.

 

In the program, students spend the first semester studying the history of education, different learning styles, and teacher requirements. They also observe a variety of grade levels to get an idea of where they think they’d like to teach. Field experience comes in second semester when they get assigned to a class to work with teachers. Students learn the mechanics of teaching, creating lessons plans, and classroom management.

 

“They get a true picture of what it is like to be a teacher,” said teacher Stephanie Anderson.

 

Anderson is a first-grade teacher at Venetucci Elementary and has had several cadets observing in her classroom over the years.

 

Many of the cadets have helped me with instruction. I was able to have them work with a small group or monitor independent or partners groups. It’s always nice to have an extra set of hands in first grade!” said Anderson.  

 

Priscilla Bessick, music teacher at Widefield Elementary, remembers being a teacher cadet in high school.

 

“The program prepared me for the research, time commitment, and dedication required to be a teacher. I had to complete a lot of field experience hours, write papers, and learn about teaching techniques, student learners, and accommodations, all of which are extremely important in the teaching field. I also knew by the end of the program that I loved music education and wanted it as my career,” said Bessick.

 

Bessick believes the Teacher Cadet program may be more important than ever given the current teacher shortage in Colorado.

 

“The program is essential in preparing future teachers for the career. Teachers don't pick this profession for the pay, they pick it for the difference they make in their students' lives. We need quality teachers to develop leaders of the world, and this program gets those dedicated individuals one step closer,” said Bessick.

 

From a recruitment standpoint in the district, Shipp said the program creates an opportunity to “grow our own” and set future teachers up for success.  

 

Teacher Cadet applications will be available in January for next school year. Please contact Tiffany Shipp (WHS) at shippt@wsd3.org, or Krista Bruckner (MRHS) at brucknerk@wsd3.org.