Pathway lets Prospect High students test teaching careers
Second grade students in Amanda Fouch's class at Fairview Elementary School are seated on a colorful checkered carpet. Each of their heads is tilted in the direction of their teacher, listening attentively.
It's storytime, but the usual Mrs. Fouch is not seated in the reader's seat today. Today the students have a special reader -- Prospect High School senior Grace Cassaidy.
Cassaidy is in Mrs. Fouch's room as part of Prospect High School's Education Academy, a college-level capstone program that encourages high-achieving seniors to explore their interest in pursuing a specific career. Cassaidy -- a District 57 alum -- is considering becoming an elementary school teacher.
"I want to be a teacher because I want to make a difference in the lives of young students," said Cassaidy.
Cassaidy is reading "Chester's Way" to the group of students, a picture book by Kevin Henkes that celebrates friendship. While reading the story, she asks the students to make predictions about what they think might happen in the story, a skill that bolsters participation and comprehension.
Later, the students split off into groups to collaborate on a project related to Henkes' story.
Through her experience at Fairview and the Education Academy, Cassaidy can explore both a teaching career and the elementary student demographic by shadowing a seasoned teacher and gaining experience in curriculum-based teaching.
Prospect High seniors Maggie Luncsford and Molly Gilhooly are also participating in the Education Academy program. Luncsford worked alongside John Bonadurer, an eight grade English language arts teacher at Lincoln Middle School. Gilhooly spent her student teaching hours with Seth Parker, a physical education teacher at Lincoln.
According to District 214's website, Education Academy is a two-credit student teaching program at the college level. In addition to exposure to their chosen career pathway, Education Academy students are provided with experience in different settings, like special education and English language learners.
"It is extremely rewarding to see Lincoln students come back into our classrooms through Prospect's EdAcademy," said Bonadurer. "It is amazing that they are pursuing a path toward education at this crucial time in their lives.
"As high school seniors, they can also give great guidance to our eighth graders, who are about to start the next chapter of their lives very soon themselves," Bonadurer added. "My hope is that the EdAcademy leads Lincoln students toward the field of education as a career, and I would love for them to come back and teach here."