Semester’s student teachers set ‘high standard’ for future

Amye Buckley

He started his student teaching experience as an assistant, but just a few weeks into the program Derek Lahm is teaching his own class.

“That first day that I went to Carl Junction it was overwhelming – it was just crazy,” said Lahm, a senior teacher education major.

He was sent over to replace an instructor who quit. When Lahm arrived he had no lesson plans and didn’t know what the class had already covered, but he found he was not alone.

“The teachers of Carl Junction stepped up and they put lessons together for me for a week,” Lahm said.

Every semester seniors from Missouri Southern’s teacher education major head out to the field to student teach. While Lahm’s experience is unusual, Dr. Keith Robertson, director of clinical field experiences, said he is proud of the consistent product of young instructors coming through the program.

“This group is setting a high standard for others to follow,” Robertson said.

This semester students will spend 14 weeks teaching, in the future Robertson said he hopes future students will get a full semester of teaching experience.

“We’re trying to make it a longer experience, we’re trying to make it a more realistic experience,” Robertson said.

Georgiana McGriff, principal at Carl Junction High School, said she has two student teachers from Southern who are filling the role of classroom instructor. Twice this semester a teacher quit and she was able to make a call to Southern for a student to fill in.

“And they’re just awesome – they’re just great,” McGriff said. “Very excited, very progressive, very willing to go above and beyond and are just great teachers and I’m excited about that.”

McGriff described the relationship between Carl Junction and Southern as supportive with an effort to place every student teacher they can.

“There are real good vibes between all of us and they help us all the time and it’s a good partnership,” McGriff said.

Lahm, who is teaching social sciences and doing some coaching, said he tries to balance everything he learned about the classroom with doing the right thing for each of the students he teaches.

“It’s pretty overwhelming at first but when you get done with it it’s like, “Wow, I just taught,” Lahm said. “We’ve all been taught our whole lives. You don’t really understand the importance of a teacher until you do it.”