By: Abrar Al-Heeti
It is that time of year again: student teachers are beginning to take over at Centennial. Undergraduate college students who plan on becoming future educators have come here to expand their knowledge of teaching in the best way possible: by experiencing it first-hand. As History student teacher Joe Martinez says, “There’s nothing like being in the classroom.” Ryan Tripicchio, who was a History student teacher last semester, says that he gained, “A much better understanding of how school works,” from the experience, and that it was a, “good time to really understand the perspective of being a teacher.”
Tripicchio attended Illinois State University for undergraduate school, where he took general education classes for two years before deciding between the end of his sophomore year and the beginning of his junior year to join the college of education. He became a History major and began taking upper-level History classes. He student taught at a lab school before joining the Centennial teaching force in the beginning of this school year, where he worked under teachers Mark Sikora and Jeff Hasenstab, and even coached cross country with Greg Walters.
Martinez attended the University of Illinois and enrolled in the education program. He knew he wanted to be either a History or an English teacher, and eventually decided upon History. He currently student teaches for Andy Woods.
When asked if he was ever treated badly as a student teacher or was not taken seriously at any point, Tripicchio answered, “You’re gonna be disrespected,” adding, “It’s a part of the growing process.” Still, the positives outweighed the negatives, and he had a pleased perspective on the experience of student teaching, highlighting the privilege he had in having the, “chance to try different things” because of his position. The ability for him to step out of the traditional sense of learning in the classroom and to apply his skills and knowledge in the role of a teacher is something he and Martinez have come to greatly appreciate.
English teacher Joanne Nielsen says the student teaching experience helps students, “gain practical knowledge of their profession, since so much to education is theoretical.” It also gets them to ask themselves, “Do they actually like this? Do they like kids?”
Regarding plans for the future, Martinez has hopes of being a Social Studies teacher in the suburbs of Chicago, where he is from, while Tripicchio wishes to get his masters degree in History at some point. His goal is to grow and develop as a coach and teacher. With all their hard work and dedication, the futures look bright for these young teachers and others like them as they begin a new and important phase of their lives.