Strong Appetite for “Taste of Teaching”

Elective Courses Provide Avenue Toward Career

Alyssa DeSimone and Anthony Raimondi

Many elective courses are available to students at Leyden High School and some just may help you in choosing your future career path. Mrs. Jennifer Maldonado is an excellent example: she took, and now teaches, one such class.

Mrs. Maldonado attended West Leyden High School and is in her 11th year as a Family and Consumer Science Teacher at East Leyden. She was one of many to enroll in the Taste of Teaching class as a Leyden student. She explained the impact of the class: “Ever since I was a little kid I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I student taught [during the class] at an elementary school, which helped me understand that I then wanted to be high school teacher.”

During the course of Taste of Teaching students get to student teach on site, choosing between teaching at an elementary school, middle school, or at Leyden for a high school experience. The elementary schools include North, Passow, or Pietrini, and the middle schools available are Lincoln or Hester. Students can choose any grade to teach and the schools listed above to whatever fits their interest. Before going on site, Leyden teachers like Mrs. Maldonado provide expectations and opportunities to group teach and learn different teaching strategies. But the onsite portion is the real benefit, giving students a behind-the-scenes view of teaching, from copying papers to building lesson plans and grading student work. Being with students in their classroom fives potential future teachers the full experience from October through May. At the end of the year this class ends with a Mentor Appreciation Breakfast.

Since she’s been on both sides of the desk with Taste of Teaching, Mrs. Maldonado has a clear view of its benefit. She explained, “My goals for this class are to prepare for the college level and to make sure they are most successful and equipped for anything coming their way in the future. I want to make sure they have as many tools as they can to make their teaching career the best it can be.”

Many students have done what Mrs. Maldonado has done, moving from Taste of Teaching in high school to classrooms of their own. She stated, “This class is to give you a clear image of what a teacher does all day, everyday.”

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Stephanie Villegas

Taste of Teaching student, Stephanie Villegas, has taken many elective courses, starting with Child Development, which triggered her interest in becoming a teacher. Villegas said, “I was first able to take Child Development and then moved on to take Child Care Practicum, which really showed me how I love having such a huge impact on kids’ lives. Knowing I am the reason they are learning new things is such an amazing feeling.” Villegas hopes to get into one of the two colleges she has applied to, Saint Cloud and University of Northern Iowa, and pursue her career in Early Childhood.

Villegas is grateful to have already gained experience working with children. “At the end of the preschool year,” she recalled, “one of the students came in on the last day with three flower pots for his three favorite teachers, and I was one of them. It was very touching and made me happy knowing what an impact I had on him during the school year. These are the moments that I will remember forever.” She can’t wait to make more memories when she carries on with her future teaching career.