Student teachers anticipate first trip to British Virgin Isles

Amber Hall

For three weeks, three Missouri Southern education majors will go to the British Virgin Island of Tortola to participate in their student teaching program.

“It’s a great experience going to Tortola,” said Dr. Al Cade, department head of teacher education. “The students will see the subtle differences in language and culture, and they will also be in the situation where they are in the minority. The island is very unique in the sense that it lacks standardized commercialization.”

Cade and Dr. Glenn Coltharp, dean of the school of education, visited Tortola last spring to research the student teaching program.

This is the first year that the student teaching program in Tortola has been offered at Missouri Southern.

During the fall semester, the department of education held a seminar for the incoming student teachers, explaining about the new Tortola student teaching program.

Cade, Coltharp, and Keith Robertson, director of clinical experience, interviewed students who were interested in the program.

“We were looking for exemplary students who would be good Missouri Southern ambassadors to Tortola, especially since this would be our first trip,” said Robertson. “We wanted the ‘cream of the crop,’ the ‘best of the bunch,’ someone with people skills and who was articulate.”

They ultimately chose three students to represent Missouri Southern. Bridget Braeckel, elementary major, Greg Hatfield, physical education major, and Amy Throop, elementary education major, were selected to go to Tortola.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to not only see differences in culture, but to see difference in their education system, even if they are subtle,” Cade said.

The students will be teaching at a kindergarten through 12th grade private school, where they will be teaching classes pertaining to their majors.

“The school has a more diverse population,” Cade said. “The student population is like the United Nations over there. You have your students who are from the island, but then you also have international students as well.”

Even though teaching in a foreign country might be difficult, both Cade and Robertson believe that it will be beneficiary to the students and the faculty in Tortola.

“Ultimately, the student will see how education is handled in different countries,” Robertson said, “but they will find general similarities and that they train their youth to adapt to change the same way we do.

“The students and faculty can share new ideas with each other, and they can assist that school in improving their faculty. Hopefully, it could be a symbiotic relationship.”