SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: Educators Rising

By Patterson Federal Credit Union

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, this week’s Spotlight will focus on students who plan to become teachers and the educators who have had a strong impact on them. 

Students in Mrs. Ashley Wesley’s Foundations and Methods of Teaching classes are able to also participate in Educators Rising, an organization designed to offer more opportunities to students interested in going in to teaching as adults. According to their website, Educators Rising is a career and technical student organization (CTSO) with intra-curricular learning opportunities integrated into existing education and training programs.

Ashley Wesley, third from left, poses with students. | Submitted photo

Mrs. Wesley has been the advisor of this program for some time and noted that it has changed names on a national level, having previously been called Future Teachers of America. Three of her students visited with us about the program, what they have learned, their favorite teachers, and plans for the future.

Liyah Smith, a junior at Arkadelphia High School, plans to teach middle or high school English. She feels that is “a pivotal age for kids, and I could help them learn not only English but life.” Smith names Kelly Rogers, a seventh grade English teacher at Goza Middle School as her best teacher ever. She said that Mrs. Rogers was eager to teach them and helpful in the learning process. Mrs. Rogers was excited to hear that a student she taught four years ago remembered her that way and noted that “you never know which ones we really get through to.”

Kelly Rogers, English teacher at Goza Middle School
Liyah Smith, a junior at AHS

Lauren Jones, also a junior at Arkadelphia High School, intends on teaching fifth grade in the future. She is willing to teach all subjects although she prefers English. The best teacher that Jones has had is Coach Mark Coon, who teaches Political Science at AHS. “I have never learned more in any class besides his,” said Jones. 

Coach Mark Coon and AHS junior Lauren Jones

Caitlyn McGough, also a junior at Arkadelphia High School, plans to teach at the high school level in the future and names English and science as her preferred subjects to teach. She prefers those subjects because she believes teachers can make them more fun for students to learn than other subjects. McGough selected Coach Ben Barras, a social studies teacher, as the best teacher she has ever had, and when she named him Liyah Smith and Lauren Jones agreed wholeheartedly. “He taught the way I like to learn, said McGough, “and he was very knowledgeable and passionate about his subject.”

Coach Ben Barras and AHS junior Caitlyn McGough

In Mrs. Wesley’s teaching classes they have learned the basics of teaching and how to create lessons that appeal to students. They created lessons during Black History Month that they taught to students at Peake. They have also helped Mrs. Wesley to organize Teacher Appreciation activities for the high school faculty and staff. Next year Lauren Jones will also get to do a teaching internship at Goza Middle School through this program.

These students have learned a lot about teaching through this program but the biggest takeaway that the girls agreed on was what they have actually learned about the teachers that they learn from best. “The only classes I enjoy and learn in are the ones where the teacher knows the subject and is passionate,” said Lauren Jones. The other two girls agreed with her. Hopefully that knowledge at their age will help mold them into passionate, knowledgeable teachers for our future.

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